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Butler University Bulletin

Physics and Astronomy


Gonzalo Ordonez, PhD, Department Chair


  • Xianming L. Han, PhD
  • Brian W. Murphy, PhD, Director, J. I. Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium

Associate Professors

  • Dan W. Kosik, PhD
  • Gonzalo Ordonez, PhD

Instructors and Lecturers

  • Natalia Andreev, MS
  • Richard B. Brown, MS, Associate Director, J. I. Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium
  • Jennifer L. Poor, PhD

Professor Emeritus

  • Marshall Dixon, PhD

Department Website

Why Study Physics and Astronomy?

Physicists (including astronomers and astrophysicists) seek to understand the fundamental workings of the physical world from the tiniest particles known to the entire universe. Majors develop mathematical, computer, and problem-solving skills to solve problems in areas such as classical mechanics, electricity, magnetism, thermodynamics, relativity, optics, and quantum mechanics. The skills mastered by physics majors are an excellent foundation for many professions in science, engineering, medicine, business, and law. Graduates find opportunities for employment in education, industry, and research. A bachelor’s degree in physics is also excellent preparation for pursuit of an advanced degree not only in physics but also in other fields such as computer science, engineering, medicine, and law.

Why Study Physics and Astronomy at Butler?

  • Majors participate in research experiences at about twice the national rate.
  • Our students have 100 percent placement for those who seek undergraduate research/internship positions.
  • Our student-faculty ratio is small: 9:1.
  • Faculty members have expertise in atomic physics, geophysics, astrophysics, nuclear physics, computational physics, and condensed matter, allowing students a number of choices for on-campus research.
  • The department directs the Holcomb Observatory and Planetarium, which is home to a robotic 1-meter-class telescope. Butler University is a member of the SARA (Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy) consortium, which operates two remotely operated telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. These three telescopes are available for our faculty and students for remote observing research as well as on-site visitation.
  • Students have the opportunity to work in our Laboratory for Laser and Quantum Physics, which houses a YAG laser-pumped tunable dye laser, to study interactions between light and matter.
  • Students can earn a degree in engineering (mechanical, electrical, computer, biomedical, energy, or motorsports) concurrently through our Engineering Dual Degree Program (see Engineering Dual Degree Program).

Physics and Astronomy Student Learning Outcomes

Students majoring in physics and astronomy at Butler will gain a working knowledge of the basic concepts and theories of physics, which they will demonstrate by applying them to novel situations. They will learn to make inferences and deductions about physical systems using critical thinking, problem-solving techniques, mathematical and computer modeling, and laboratory experiments. They will gain the skills to conduct lab or modeling experiments, to analyze measurements, and to evaluate uncertainty, and they will learn to communicate their findings both through speaking and through writing.

Degree Programs

  • Major in Physics (BA, BS)
  • Major in Astronomy and Astrophysics (BA, BS)
  • Major in Physics with Engineering Dual Degree Program (see Engineering Dual Degree Program)
  • Minor in Physics
  • Minor in Astronomy