Department Contact Information

Physics Department

Location: 180-204
Phone: (805) 756-2448
Fax: (805) 756-2435
Chair: Karl Saunders

Support Physics

Website Update

Student Resources


On this page...

Here you can find a quick reference to many different kinds of support within the Physics program.

Mentoring and Support

  • First year Experience

The Cal Poly Physics Department has introduced a First-Year Experience course for all physics majors who are new to Cal Poly, including first-time freshmen and transfer students. The First-Year Experience meets weekly for 2 hours to build our physics community (connecting with faculty, alumni, and other students) and help students develop their physics identities.  Through hands-on activities and group discussions students practice the skills, tools, and habits of mind that physicists use when confronting physical systems and problems.  They explore career opportunities for physics majors to help them connect their life goals and interests to physics.  Students who take the course will emerge with a better sense of their place in our department and the wider physics community and feel empowered to make physics welcoming to all.

  • Neutron/Neutrino Program for Incoming First-Year Students

The Neutron-Neutrino program is our department’s peer mentoring program. Every incoming physics student (the Neutrino) is paired with a 3rd year or higher physics student (the Neutron). The Neutrons are here to help their Neutrinos learn, grow and succeed in the Cal Poly Physics community. The program's goal is to build a sense of community between the incoming student and the department, as well as provide them with support and encouragement throughout the first year at Cal Poly. If you have any questions or would like more information about this program, please contact the Women in Physics club (, which founded and organizes this program.

  • Diversity/Equity/Inclusion

In this department, we strive to create an environment where you can bring your whole self to classes, research, mentoring, and life. The team that coordinates our department’s growth in giving you the best environment to thrive is the Physics Department Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Our team is also part of two national efforts to train departments on implementing change that centers minoritized students, staff, and faculty: The APS IDEA network teaches us evidence-based skills and strategies for implementing deep, lasting, department-wide change towards a more equitable and inclusive community. The AIP TEAM UP program coaches us on planning and implementing changes that remove obstacles that Black physics students face, changes that will also benefit other minoritized groups. Inclusion starts with the membership of this important committee. We have students, staff, and faculty represented on this committee, all as full members. We welcome and rely on your input in our decision-making. You can let us know if you see or feel anything that is wrong, or share any ideas you have for improvement by contacting the whole Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (, Kat Gillen (, faculty), Michelle Wardrop (, staff), Karl Saunders (, department chair), or any of our student club officers who can contact us on your behalf – whatever you feel most comfortable with. The clubs’ contact information is: Minorities in Physics (, Women in Physics (, and SPS ( You can find more about our clubs below under Clubs and Social Life.

This is a site for First-Gen students to learn about campus resources, and the broader first-generation community at Cal Poly. College opens up numerous possibilities, opportunities, and new questions. This page offers first-generation students a portal to learn about these resources, link to additional information from various colleges, and introduce you to Cal Poly faculty, staff, and administrators who were also the first in their family to graduate from college.


Mustang Success Center - for first year students

The Mustang Success Center provides an inclusive environment that supports first time freshmen students with their transition and integration into Cal Poly. The center’s staff provides accessible academic advising that guides students to clear pathways of success and timely graduation. 

Through individual appointments, group advising sessions, and workshops, the advisors help students: 

  • Understand University policies and procedures 
  • Offer a full range of proactive academic services 
  • Refer students to appropriate campus resources 
  • Provide leadership in coordinating College and University programs that support student success. 

CSM Advising - for continuing and transfer students

CSM Student Services provides academic advising services to students within the college and pre-health advising to all students throughout the university.

Academic advising services include:

  • assistance with developing long-range academic plans
  • interpreting university and college policy and procedures
  • articulation agreements
  • study abroad planning
  • scheduling classes
  • financial aid SAP appeals
  • helping you to understand your degree & graduation requirements
  • academic coaching for students experiencing academic difficulty
  • and more!

Pizza Advising Event

Every fall, Physics holds a lunchtime meeting with an opportunity to review important information and meet with the department chair and your faculty advisor.

Physics Department Advising

For Physics major coursework advising, contact your physics advisor (or the department office if you are unsure who your advisor is).

Thinking about Changing your Major?

Senior Project Information

Clubs and Social Life

Physics Majors

The Cal Poly Physics Department has approximately 200 majors. During the academic year, most of them can be found studying, emailing, socializing (or sleeping) in their dedicated student room known as "h-bar," (180-639).

Society of Physics Students (SPS)

There is an active SPS chapter on campus. Information about their activities may be found on their Facebook page.

Sigma Pi Sigma

Sigma Pi Sigma is a National Physics Honors Society. Membership information may be found here. Please contact the Cal Poly chapter advisor, Dr. Thomas Gutierrez, for more information.

Cal Poly Women in Physics (CPWiP)

Cal Poly Women in Physics (CPWiP) is a student club affiliated with ASI and the Cal Poly Physics Department.  The club was started in 2009 with the goal of providing support for female physics majors, who represent less than 15 percent of all students in the department. Social events, professional development, conference attendance, and research opportunities are promoted by the club for the benefit of all physics majors, regardless of gender. Visit the club Facebook and Instagram pages for more information. Please let us know how we can help, and we hope to see you at our next event! The faculty sponsor of Cal Poly Women in Physics is Dr. Katharina Gillen. For more information, contact us at

Minorities in Physics Club:

The purpose of the Minorities in Physics Club is to act as a resource and provide a space for physics students to engage in discussion of issues regarding diversity and inclusivity such that their collective voice is represented and they become empowered in their ability to thrive in academia.

The advisor is Dr. Louise Edwards, who can be contacted at The club email is for those interested in joining or have any questions.

Cal Poly Astronomy Club:

The Cal Poly Astronomy Club is a student-run organization that meets, socializes, and observes things astronomical using the telescopes in the Cal Poly Observatory.

Astronomy Club's Facebook page

Observatory's Facebook page

Feel free to contact Dr. David Mitchell with any questions.

Study Abroad Opportunities for Physics Students

Cal Poly International Exchange Programs offer students opportunities to study their academic disciplines at partner universities for up to one year.

Courses Pre-Approved for Transfer Back to Cal Poly

Here is a list of physics department courses pre-approved for transfer back to Cal Poly. Other course substitutions may be possible upon consultation with the department chair.

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