Physics and Astronomy at Sonoma State
For many years Sonoma State University has been among the leaders in the California State University system in the percentage of undergraduates majoring in physics. The department offers a traditional, mathematically rigorous program leading to a B.S. in physics; a more applied curriculum leading to a B.S. in physics with a concentration in applied physics; and a flexible B.A. program with two advisory plans (algebra and trigonometry or calculus). The department also offers minors both in physics and astronomy. All programs stress fundamental concepts and techniques, offer an unusually rich laboratory experience and intensive use of computers, and require a capstone course as a culminating experience.
The department is well-equipped with lower-division teaching laboratories and facilities for intermediate and advanced laboratory courses, undergraduate research, special studies and capstone projects. The Darwin facilities include thin film fabrication systems such as sputtering, thermal evaporation, chemical vapor deposition and electrodeposition, a Hall measurement system, a 17-Tesla superconducting magnet system, an adaptive optics and astronomical instrumentation development laboratory, and a nuclear low-level counting laboratory. Physics majors also use the multidisciplinary Keck Microanalysis Laboratory in Salazar Hall which includes a scanning electron microscope, atomic force microscopes, an x-ray diffractometer, and a confocal microscope.
The department operates a teaching observatory on the SSU campus and a NASA-funded, remotely operated research observatory at a darker site in northern Sonoma County. The department is also developing a new observatory at the Galbreath Wildlands Preserve in southern Mendocino County.
Among the more than 400 physics graduates of SSU are physicists, astronomers, geophysicists, professors, pilots, teachers, and a great many engineers and computer professionals. As the nation moves to meet the technological challenges of our time, the demand for well-educated men and women with an undergraduate education in physics continues to grow.