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The Department of Physics at William & Mary is part of Arts and Sciences. It "consists of thirty members on the instructional faculty, together with approximately fifteen additional physicists in purely research positions. The research areas in the department include atomic, molecular, and optical physics, computational physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear and particle physics, and plasma and non-linear physics. Related research areas include accelerator physics (in cooperation with Jefferson Lab and material characterization (in cooperation with NASA-Langley Research Center). The department offers a wide range of undergraduate and graduate courses of instruction. It also has strong links with the interdisciplinary Applied Science Department and Computational Science Cluster."

Prior to its establishment as an individual department, Physics, as with the other sciences, was organized under the chair of Natural Philosophy and Mathematics since 1712. Created as a department in 1907, Professor W.H. Keeble served as the first chair of the Physics department, from 1907 to 1919.(Young) Professor Roscoe Young became department chair, in 1919, after Professor Keeble stepped down. Under Professor Young, enrollment in Physics increased, particularly due to the newly admitted women students. Under the presidential leadership of Alvin Duke Chandler and department chair Dr. Melvin A. Pittman, the department developed graduate studies in Physics. In the Fall of 1959, the Physics department welcomed its first graduate students.

Physics is located in Small Hall. It was temporarily relocated to Millington Hall in 2009-2010 during the renovation and expansion of Small Hall.

Chairs of the Department

  • W.H. Keeble, 1907-1919
  • Roscoe Young, 1919-
  • Melvin A. Pittman


  • Department of Physics webpage
  • Roscoe Conkling Young, "Physics at William & Mary," Alumni Gazette 10.2(1942): 12-13, 29-30.
  • Physics folder, University Archives Subject File, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, William & Mary.


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A note about the contents of this site

This website contains the best available information from known sources at the time it was written. Unfortunately, many of the early original records of William & Mary were destroyed by fires, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information in this website is not complete, and it changes as we continue to research and uncover new sources.