Physics  & Astronomy

& Astronomy

Understanding the Universe

If you think deep and dream big, UM’s Physics and Astronomy Department is the right place for you. Study physics and learn about the interplay of matter and energy; focus on astronomy and learn about the interworkings of the universe; or study computational physics and develop the skills required for computational modeling of physical systems. No matter what you choose, you will work with and learn from faculty performing cutting-edge research. 


students conduct live planetarium shows every week


of our students are hired as research assistants


students’ code in use at MINERVA & Los Alamos National Laboratory




  • Ahmed Diallo

    Ahmed Diallo, Class of 2000

    Currently a staff research physicist at Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Diallo leads one of the topical science groups on the NSTX-U tokamak experiment. Diallo received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Iowa in 2005 and had postdoctoral appointments in Switzerland and Australia before joining the staff at PPPL.

  • Amanda Deisher

    Amanda Deisher, Class of 2002

    Deisher is now working as a radiation oncology medical physicist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She received her Ph.D. in Physics from the UC, Berkeley in 2008 and had postdoctoral appointments at UCLA and Cern.

  • Anna Hughes

    Anna (Haugsjaa) Hughes, Class of 2004

    Hughes, a scientific programmer at the National Solar Observatory in Boulder, Colorado, received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Colorado in 2011.

  • Tristan DeBorde

    Tristan DeBorde, Class of 2007

    DeBorde, a yield engineer at the Intel Corporation in Beaverton, Oregon, received his Ph.D. in physics from Oregon State University in 2014.

  • Martens

    Martens, Class of 2008

    Martens has returned to her alma mater as a professor of geosciences. She hold's masters degrees from University College London and the University of Cambridge and earned her Ph.D. in Geophysics from Caltech University in 2016.

  • Collin Jones

    Collin Jones, Class of 2010

    After graduating from UM, Jones was hired by the Radiant-Zemax optical corporation as a physics applications engineer. He is currently vice president at American Truck Wash in Missoula, Montana.

  • Peter Burns

    Peter Burns, Class of 2013

    Burns completed his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Colorado, Boulder, in 2019. He published part of his dissertation research in an article in Nature Physics: "Harnessing electro-optic correlations in an efficient mechanical converter." (Burns is on left in photo)

  • Chani Nava

    Chani Nava, Class of 2015

    Nava is a graduate student in astrophysics at Harvard University. Nava is doing research on exoplanets and recently published in the Astronomical Journal: "Exoplanet Imitators: A Test of Stellar Activity Behavior in Radial Velocity Signals."