Chemical Physics

Academic Program Introduction

Drawing upon aspects of chemistry and physics, we study the structure and properties of atoms, molecules, and materials. The major offers a richer foundation in physics than the standard chemistry major and significantly more experience in experimental and theoretical chemistry than the usual physics major. Core elements of both chemistry and physics inform our experimental, theoretical, and modeling work.

The overarching goal of the major is to apply the quantitative methods usually associated with physics to systems of chemical interest. These systems range in size and complexity, from atomic nuclei to biological molecules and nanomaterials.

Learning goals

  • Develop solid foundations in, and reliable facility with, the principles of chemistry and physics. Recognize the physical situations each field is suited to address and the interconnections between the two fields.

  • Develop the ability to integrate concepts and techniques from chemistry and physics in the context of interdisciplinary problems associated with systems ranging from atomic nuclei to biological molecules.

  • Develop strong quantitative skills and facility with the mathematical and computational techniques at the center of modern science and learn to apply those skills in problem-solving contexts in chemistry and physics.

  • Gain experience with laboratory practices throughout the curriculum with an emphasis on applying the scientific method, learning the skills of thoughtful experimental design, and exploring independent experimentation.

Programs of Study

Chemical physics major

Students will be prepared for postgraduate study and/or public/private sector employment in fields informed by the principles and methods of chemistry and physics.

Research highlights

  • Two students work at a 3D printer. One of them is holding a thumbs-up.

    In Professor Rebecca Belisle’s lab, students synthesize and investigate lead halide perovskites to understand the limits of their performance as solar cells. Their work focuses on the study of the fundamental properties of these novel semiconductors and how those properties relate to solar cell device performance.

  • Two students in a dimly lit room look at an open laptop. Another open laptop shows a 3-D model of a molecule.

    Students in the Radhakrishnan Lab develop, analyze, and apply computational tools to better understand how biological molecules interact and to design novel interactions. Doing so can help in the design of novel therapeutic molecules to treat disease

Beyond Wellesley

Beyond Wellesley

Our chemistry and physics graduates work in a variety of fields, including biotech, the pharmaceutical industry, medicine, engineering, academia, and government. Chemical physics majors are prepared for these industries as well as master’s and doctoral studies. Recent graduates have attended the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford, the University of Chicago, Harvard, and the University of New South Wales (Sydney).

Chemical Physics Program

Science Center
106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
Christopher Arumainayagam, James Battat
Program Co-Directors
Carol Gagosian
Academic Administrators