Research Groups

Research Groups

Experimental Physics

Michael Brown studies magnetic reconnection in his Swarthmore Spheromak eXperiment (SSX). Condensed matter physics is done by Peter Collings, who studies liquid crystals, and Catherine Crouch, who works on mesoscale systems. Two different groups do optics and atomic physics, with Carl Grossman studying single-molecule fluorescence and Frank Moscatelli working on diffusive optical imaging applications in medical physics. Carol Guess works on experimental low-energy nuclear physics, studying the internal structure of and reactions between nuclei.

Theoretical Physics

Amy Graves works on simulations of condensed matter systems. Tristan Smith works on questions in cosmology (the composition and evolution of the universe) and gravitational physics.


Swarthmore's emphasis has traditionally been on stellar astrophysics. David Cohen studies x-rays from hot stars and young stars. Eric Jensen works on star formation and circumstellar disks, including x-rays from young stars, along with Cohen. Both Jensen and Cohen use the Peter van de Kamp Observatory to study transiting exoplanets.

Research Facilities

Each faculty member has a lab in the Science Center. Experimentalists Crouch, Grossman, and Moscatelli have their labs on the ground level of the Science Center, directly below the Eldridge Commons, while Brown and Collings have theirs on the first floor of the department, down the hall from the department office. The theorists, Smith and Graves, and astrophysicists, Cohen and Jensen, have computer rooms/labs on the first floor of the department as well. We have a 24-inch telescope (with a large-format CCD camera, two full filter sets and an H-alpha filter, and a high-resolution spectrograph) on the roof of the Science Center - in the Peter van de Kamp Observatory.