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Seth Hopper
Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Seth was born and raised in North Carolina. He came to Earlham as a student in 2000, joining my sister who was three years ahead of me. He graduated in 2004 with a double major in Physics and Computer Science. Subsequently, Seth entered graduate school at University of North Carolina where he studied black holes. After finishing his Ph.D. in 2011, Seth took a series of postdoctoral research fellowships in Germany, Ireland and Portugal. He returned to Earlham to teach in 2017.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 138



206 Center for Science and Technology

Office Hours
Wed. 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM; Fri. 1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

Website Link


  • Physics and Astronomy
  • Pre-Engineering


  • Ph.D., University of North Carolna, Chapel Hill
  • B.A., Earlham College

Selected Courses:

PHYS 115 Encounters with the Cosmos

PHYS 280 Computational Astrophysics

PHYS 425 Classical Mechanics

PHYS 435 Electricity & Magnetism

PHYS 480 Senior Seminar

It’s an exciting time to be working in astronomy. The era of gravitational wave astronomy dawned on September 14, 2015, when two merging black holes were observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO: ligo.org). It was the first direct evidence for the existence of both black holes and gravitational waves. The signal had been traveling toward Earth for billions of years when it was detected by the most sensitive instrument that humans have ever built. My research is one part of the large international effort to detect such gravitational radiation. Working with students, I perform simulations to model the radiation that is emitted by black hole systems. It’s challenging work that requires knowledge of physics, math, and computer science. It also demands collaboration with scientists from around the globe. The final results are fulfilling as we contribute to this research on the frontier of astronomy.

Selected Works

Seth Hopper. “Unbound motion on a Schwarzschild background: Practical approaches to frequency domain computations.” Physical Review D, 97, 064007, March 2018.

Vitor Cardoso, Seth Hopper, Caio F. B. Macedo, Carlos Palenzuela, Paolo Pani. “Echoes of ECOs: gravitational-wave signatures of exotic compact objects and of quantum corrections at the horizon scale.” Physical Review D, 94, 084031, August 2016.

Seth Hopper, Chris Kavanagh, and Adrian Ottewill. “Analytic self-force calculations in the post-Newtonian regime: eccentric orbits on a Schwarzschild background.” Physical Review D, 93, 044010, February 2016.

Thibault Damour, Federico Guercilena, Ian Hinder, Seth Hopper, Alessandro Nagar, and Luciano Rezzolla. “Strong-Field Scattering of Two Black Holes: Numerics Versus Analytics.” Physical Review D, 89, 081503, June 2014.

Seth Hopper and Charles Evans. “Gravitational perturbations and metric reconstruction: Method of extended homogeneous solutions applied to eccentric orbits on a Schwarzschild black hole.” Physical Review D, 82, 084010, October 2010.

Helping students find their passions is a truly rewarding experience. I came to Earlham as a first-year without a clear goal, but was inspired by my professors to pursue a career in academia. Now, I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to guide today’s students as they make similar discoveries.

I am the faculty advisor for Earlham’s astronomy club, COSMOS (Collection of Students Monitoring Outer Space: epress.earlham.edu/cosmos). We lead monthly public observation night at Earlham’s observatory and take trips to local areas of observational interest. Additionally, we are engaged in student projects involving solar and radio observation right here on campus!

I enjoy playing Ultimate frisbee with here on campus, taking walks with my dog Echo in Earlham’s back campus, and singing karaoke in any appropriate location.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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