Samantha Lewis

Assistant Professor of Physics

Experimental physicist, engineer by training; developing novel microwave devices for dark matter searches and particle accelerators.

Electromagnetic waves are at the center of so much of our lives, like how we see and how we stay connected around the world. They are also the foundation of many kinds of physics experiments and facilities. We use these waves to study our world from the scale of the universe down to the sub-atomic level.

I work in the microwave/mm-wave range of the electromagnetic spectrum, developing devices for a variety of physics applications. At the moment, most of my research focuses on using advanced types of resonators to search for dark matter axions. I’m also interested in improving particle accelerators, which enable work from basic science R&D to industrial manufacturing to nuclear medicine. My research involves a mixture of simulation and hands-on work in the lab, plus participation in collaborations to build and run these large-scale physics experiments.

Physics is fascinating because it explains the world around us. It plays a role in many other fields of science, but also in technology, policy, and art (to name just a few) in ways that are not always obvious. I feel it’s essential for students to know how even the most fundamental physics ideas connect to the broader world and to issues that matter in their lives. I believe physics can be enjoyed by everyone, including those who may find themselves thinking, “but why does this matter?” In my classes, I tie the material back to concrete examples to help students appreciate the concepts they’re studying. I also believe collaboration is an essential skill for learning and for life, so I build in opportunities for students to work together and learn from each other. Outside of the main physics curriculum, I’m interested in the ways science intersects with society and hope to teach courses on this topic in the future.

I’m very invested in making academia more welcoming and supportive to students from all backgrounds. I was a first-generation college student and the first person in my family to get a PhD, so I have experienced how the “hidden curriculum” of academia creates hurdles and barriers for many students. I have a strong interest in mentoring students to help them navigate these challenges and find their own unique path through Wellesley. I’m also interested in exploring how assessments and narrow definitions of success limit who is allowed access to certain spaces, and how these metrics can be changed to eliminate those biases.

I have more aspirational hobbies than I have time for. As a former indoor kid, living in California made me enjoy hiking, kayaking, camping, and generally spending time outside. I love to cook and bake (pretty well) and to sew and knit (poorly). I did musical theater for over a decade and I still love to sing. These days I’m trying to learn to sing in new styles, and I hope to be able to make music with other people again soon. I have a cat named Noodle who also loves to “sing” whenever he’s not sleeping or eating.

Current and upcoming courses

  • The electromagnetic force, one of the fundamental interactions in nature, is responsible for a remarkably wide range of phenomena and technologies, from the structures of atoms and molecules to the transmission of nerve impulses and the characteristics of integrated circuits. This introductory course begins with the study of Coulomb's law of electrostatics and progresses through investigations of electric fields, electric potential energy, magnetic fields, and Faraday's law of magnetic induction. The course culminates in the study of light, where the deep connections between electricity and magnetism are highlighted. Interference effects caused by the electromagnetic wave nature of light are introduced. . Because this course does not have a lab, it does not typically satisfy the pre-health requirements.