This semester the Physics and Astronomy Department sent a student to the finals of the Three Minute Thesis competition. Kavya Mukundan, a fellow astronomy graduate student, won at the departmental level and continued to the finals for our university, placing third and winning a scholarship to continue her important work on galaxy morphology.
In the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) contest, graduate students attempt to explain their research and its importance to a general audience (ie, non-experts) in only three minutes. This requires a very different sort of approach than most talks, where the emphasis is on details that other experts of the field may be interested in. Mrs. Mukundan practiced her talk specifically on non-physicists to be sure everyone could understand it. She believes it's a useful exercise for researchers in general, "I got to think about my research from different viewpoints. While it is true that we live in our own little academic bubble, reaching out to general people and letting them know why what we do is important is crucial. Because they are the people who decide the fate of scientific funding or policy. And as scientists, it’s our responsibility to make complex things simple for others. "
This past Sunday, November 6th, PAGSA partnered with the Society of Physics Students (SPS) to host a department wide picnic at Lake Nicol! Undergraduates, professors, family and friends all gathered at the scenic lake for games, food, a nature hike, or just to meet new people in other areas of the department. With a turn-out of nearly 50 people, this was our biggest off-campus event yet!
Although we provided catering platters, some people also brought home-made goodies to share! We certainly have some chefs among us, because the food was delicious.
Thank you too everyone who helped organize the event and give rides to those who needed them!
If you attended the event, please feel free to fill out this brief form about the experience! We value your feedback and hope to have more events like this in the future, so let us know what you think!
Lake Nicol feedback survey
Do you know how much football relies on physical intuition? Our players must be applied physics experts! Last weekend PAGSA partnered with the Society of Physics Students (SPS), our undergraduate counterpart, to come up with some fun physics demonstrations to show off at our booth. With the help of the campus machine shop, we made a see-saw with an adjustable fulcrum and invited children to guess where to put the fulcrum so their weight could lift a "dinosaur" (well....physics student in a dino costume). We also had a Van de Graaff generator, and a magnet that launched small metal tubes into the air, or heated them rapidly, depending on the nature of the metal. Very cool!
Pictured above: some of our scary physics dinosaurs.
On October 14th 2022 Bhuwan Nepal successfully defended his thesis, "Study of Magnetization Dynamics for Neuromorphic Computing Device Applications" and became Dr. Nepal!. His work uses simulations of complex magnetic activity to understand particular materials; these materials may allow us to create much more efficient computers by mimicking some properties of the human brain.
He's currently in California working for Headway Technologies Inc. in direct relation to his research. He says he really appreciates how work with magnetic materials has very practical applications that benefit everyday people, such as giving us the technology in magnetic tape, hard drives, and credit cards.
On October 3rd, student Weidong Jin successfully defended his dissertation and became Dr. Weidong Jin! His research concerns the highest energy light; gamma rays. The same processes that produce exotic phenomenon like neutrinos and gravitational waves also produce these rays. Dr. Jin has spent the last 5-6 years studying multi-messenger astronomy, focusing on followup observations from IceCube (neutrinos) and LIGO/Virgo (gravitational waves). This area has many exciting opportunities-- grad student research projects can have an immediate impact on cutting edge science. When asked about his time as a grad student, Dr. Jin emphasized the importance of attending conferences; "you can talk with experts in your field, present your research results, and even receive postdoc offers!" (I hope everyone experiences that last one).
If you see the doctor around campus, be sure to congratulate him!
I'm extremely late making this post, but thank you to all the PAGSA members who coordinated and organized our welcoming event for new students! Even if you just came to the event to show your support, we thank you for your time and for helping us show incoming students we are excited to have them here! And of course thank you to all the new students who came, it was great to meet you all!
We're pleased to announce PAGSA's first annual Incoming Student Welcoming Event! We're hosting an informal chat between incoming and older students over some snacks/maybe pizza in GL227 from 3-4 pm August 29th. New students, feel free to ask us any questions-- older students, try to be informative! Some parts of grad school are difficult, and incoming students could use your frank and honest advice.
If you plan on attending, fill out this Google Form to RSVP and let us know about any dietary restrictions. Contact Jacob Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Aditya Upreti (email@example.com) if you have any additional questions.
PAGSA hope's everyone has a great year, and we all look forward to getting to know our new colleagues!
With summer coming to a close, we at PAGSA want to welcome new and returning students to our campus! Although we want to celebrate that...we also don't want to forget qualifying exams are on the way! Good luck to everyone taking them, and be sure to check out our qualifier help section if you haven't already!
Hello PAGSA members! Now that this year has come to a close, it's time to meet and transition people into their new roles and discuss our plans for the coming year. Because many of us our out of town, we'll hold the meeting on Zoom, June 21 at 10AM. The Zoom invite is in a WhatsApp message in our officer's channel. If you don't have this invite, contact Aditya Upreti.
Thank you to everyone who could join us for our first bi-annual celebration for new doctorates! And thank you to all our members, who have made this organization possible. Good luck to those of us setting out into the job market-- you have already done great things!