Since 2008, the number of physics undergraduates has jumped from 34 to 153. The graduate program is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the country. One thing that attracts so many students to the UCSB physics department is the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research. Mason (pictured below) graduated last weekend, and has worked in David Weld's lab for a year and a half on a project that will have a significant impact on future research conducted in the lab. The project involves the construction of an external cavity diode laser, as well as the design of a frequency-doubling system for that same laser, for ultra-cold strontium experiments. The number of declared physics majors this year is twice the size it was three years ago. "We could easily be catching MIT in the future as the department producing the most physics bachelor's degree candidates in the country by the time this group is finishing“ said Michael Witherell, vice chancellor for research at UCSB.