Michael Brown studies magnetic reconnection in his Swarthmore Spheromak eXperiment (SSX). Condensed matter physics is done by Peter Collings (now emeritus, but still active in his lab), who studies liquid crystals, and Catherine Crouch, who studies model cell membranes. Hillary Smith works on materials physics and energy storage materials. Cacey Bester studies granular materials.
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. Radio astronomer Jesse Rivera works on dusty star forming galaxies. Multi-wavelength astronomer Natalia Lewandowska studies highly magnetized and fast rotating neutron stars known as pulsars.
Physics Education Research
Catherine Crouch and Ben Geller work together on evaluating the effectiveness of physics instruction, focusing presently on the role of life science examples in the introductory physics curriculum for biochemistry and biology majors. Both also participate in other educational assessment efforts at the College.
Each faculty member has a lab in the Science Center. Experimentalists Crouch, Bester, and Smith 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.