Physics professor working with a student


Brittany Hauke

Top-Notch Opportunities

“I chose Coe because of the opportunities for research,” Martha said. “I was invited by the Physics Department to participate in glass research two weeks prior to the start of my first year.” Martha Jesuit ’21 researches Tellurite glass with Coe physics professors. She is the recipient of an Outstanding Undergraduate Research Award and a scholarship through the Society of Physics Students.

Why Physics at Coe?

Coe’s internationally recognized Physics Department provides comprehensive and balanced training to prepare for graduate work, industry professions or teaching. Graduating classes of 15-20 students puts us within the top 2% of physics departments nationwide and helped earn us the 2021 Award for Improving Undergraduate Physics Education from the American Physical Society. Coe is the only school in Iowa to have earned this national award!

Real research experience with award-winning professors

  • Since 1986, the department has received continuous research grants from the National Science Foundation. Additional funding has come from NASA and Fortune 500 companies including Corning, Inc. 
  • Dr. Steve Feller and Dr. Mario Affatigato each have been awarded the American Physical Society Prize to a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution. Coe Physics is one of only two programs in U.S. with two winners of this award.
  • Our state-of-the-art laboratories host over $2 million worth of research equipment for you to gain hands-on experience.
  • More than 300 Coe students have performed summer research in our labs, where you will have opportunities as early as your first year. We have published more than 170 peer-reviewed papers with our undergraduate students.

Open the doors to top graduate schools and Fortune 500 companies

  • Since 1979, all Coe physics majors accepted to graduate school have received full fellowships, stipends and scholarships.
  • Our alumni network and research collaborations provide pipelines for internship and employment opportunities. Our students recently performed research at laboratories in Brazil, Canada, Italy and England, as well as CERN. 
  • Many of our alumni either have their own start-up companies or are at top positions in companies and national laboratories including Google, Corning, Tesla, Advanced Materials, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Fermi National Laboratory, Rockwell Collins, McKinsey, DARPA and Argonne.

Enjoy a close-knit environment with peers and faculty

  • The Coe Physics Club is included on the Society of Physics Students (SPS) outstanding chapters list year after year. Throughout the year, you’ll be invited to the Playground of Science, Trivia Contest, Impersonation Contest, Physics Competition, Poker Tournament, weekly ice cream socials and annual trip to the Field of Dreams.
  • We host traditional department parties at faculty homes, including an orientation party, Thanksgiving party, Christmas party, graduation party and summer research party.
lisa mcdonald

Highly Qualified

Lisa McDonald ’17

“Coe helped me gain a broad knowledge of all the major areas of physics rather than a narrow focus on one field. As someone whose occupation is making science accessible and understandable to the general public, this broad base makes me qualified to pursue many more job possibilities.”

A physics and communication studies major at Coe, today Lisa is the Associate Managing Editor for the American Ceramics Society.