Step into STEM

GAP participated in the 4th annual Step into STEM event hosted by Junior STEM on November 9th! This is an opportunity for student organizations on campus to showcase some cool demos and interact with kids from the Atlanta area.


GAP taught kids about magnets! We started by discussing what a magnet is, what they do, and how they interact with things in our world (including grapes!).

We then talked about how a magnetic field interacts with current flowing in a loop. We demonstrated a homopolar motor, and of course, a magnet falling down a copper tube.

All of the demos we came up with are ones that kids and parents can do at home together! We put together a pamphlet of our demos for parents to take home for future reference, which can be found here.

Thanks to Junior STEM for hosting this event! Excited for next year.

Third Mentoring Session of 2019

GAP held our third, and final mentoring session of the semester, on 11/08/19. We began with a brief discussion of Career Options, specifically about what we think is useful information to help guide your graduate school journey.

We then discussed special problems, a special opportunity for first-year graduate students to try out a lab that they may want to work in. It’s an opportunity for students to get to know the lab and the advisor, to determine if it’s the place they want to be in for the upcoming years!

We encourage all students to check out the Resources tab on our website to find the “Graduate Student Positions” page and the “Who Works for Whom?” page. These pages will help you figure out who is actively looking for graduate students and which graduate students work in which labs.

Thanks to all the mentors for making the mentoring sessions this semester so productive. We will see all the first-year students next semester for more mentoring sessions!

Best of luck on your finals!!

Jonas Cuadrado talks Data Science at Feedzai

On November 5th, Howey welcomed back former PhD candidate Jonas Cuadrado. Jonas has been working as a data scientist for 2 years at Feedzai, a company that uses machine learning algorithms to detect fraud and minimize risk in the financial industry. In his career talk, Jonas gave an overview of data science, detailed what he enjoys about his day-to-day work, and talked at length about the necessary steps to enter the field of data science with a background in physics. He was accompanied by an HR representative who accepted résumés and job applications.

We look forward to hosting more professionals in our series of career talks. Stay tuned for announcements about future speakers! If you would like to request a speaker from a particular industry or academic setting, please reach out to our career development chair, who can be found on the About page.

Physics Focus

GAP held our first Physics Focus of the year on October 29th! We celebrated the achievements of three graduate students who recently published papers in their fields by hearing about their results and eating yummy snacks! We had three presenters, who presented the following publications:

Johnathan Michel – Structural hierarchy confers error tolerance in biological tissues. Published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in February of 2019.

Brian McMahon – Doppler cooled ions in a compact, reconfigurable penning trap. Published to the arXiv in September of 2019.

Noah DeTal – Synchronization behavior in a ternary phase model. Published in Chaos in June of 2019.

We hope to continue hosting Physics Focus events to highlight even more of our publishing graduate students. If you publish a paper and would like to be featured in our next Focus, please reach out to any one of our officers, who can be found on the About page.

General GAP Meeting

On October 22nd, the GAP held our first General Meeting with graduate students to announce upcoming events and get some feedback. This was also a time for graduate students to get together and socialize, with yummy snacks!

Items discussed:

  • Physics Focus:
    • A new event held once a semester to celebrate the accomplishments of graduate students who have recently published a paper! The event will host 3 graduate students, each giving a short 10-minute talk followed by questions from the audience. This is a great time to advertise your work and receive feedback!
    • Reminder: If you have published a paper, GAP wants to know about it!
  • Workshop interest:
    • We inquired about what types of workshops people would be interested in so we can bring someone in from C2D2 to help us out. We did get some feedback on this, so look out for events!
  • We are still looking for an outreach chair! If you are interested in outreach and would like to be the point of contact for the GAP, we would love to have you! Send an email to drenniks@gatech.edu if you are interested.
  • A member of the United Campus Workers Union came to discuss a bit about union goals and a petition they are circulating in regards to lowering student fees. Please take a look here if you would like to see the petition and sign it.

Thanks to all the grad students who attended! We plan to have another general GAP meeting next month.

Second Mentoring Session of 2019

On 10/04/19, GAP held their second mentoring session of the year with the first-year students of the department. The overall theme was stress management, where GAP took the opportunity to hear how their first year has been going so we can figure out if there is anything that can be done to alleviate their stress or help them out in any way.

One thing we discussed was how to figure out if professors are looking for graduate students. GAP just published a list of the status of professors, which can be found here.

The focus of the mentoring sessions has broadly been about receiving feedback about how the first-year best practices are being implemented, something that GAP worked on last year. GAP is committed to following up with this best practices list, and if there is anything that is not being implemented, we will do our best to fix the situation.

Best of luck to the first years during the rest of the semester, and we will see everyone at the next mentoring session!

First Mentoring Session of 2019

GAP held their first mentoring session with the first year graduate students on September 13th to discuss Academics.

We talked about what graduate students need to do to complete their PhD and what to think about when applying for a Masters degree (see the PhD completion checklist; it’s not only for first year students!).

We then split into breakout groups with graduate student mentors, to discuss how classes were going and address any questions the first year students might have had. Thanks to the mentors for volunteering their time!

GAP is looking forward to the next session with the first year students, to discuss further guidance and support. Best of luck on your first exams!!

1st year best practices

In an effort to tackle issues experienced by former and current graduate students with the teaching of 1st year classes, GAP intended to implement regulatory measures aimed at improving the 1st year curriculum experience for graduate students.

Throughout the fall and spring 2018-19, members of GAP (James McInerney, Adrien Saremi, Danielle Skinner) presented propositions to the Chair of graduate studies Dr. Ballantyne. Our effort included several discussions with graduate student fellows and faculty members to bring forward a suggestive plan to the graduate committee. The submitted letter focused on the proper teaching of classes, the provision of appropriate resources for student learning and the improvement in the development of courses’ logistics. The document intended to serve as an agreement between the School of Physics and the graduate student body through GAP and shall be respected by professors teaching 1st year classes.

On February 28th, 2019, upon meeting with the graduate committee members, the points of the attached letter were accepted and included in the graduate committee’s Best Practice document, with immediate effect.

Prospect students visit – March 25th

GAP was happy to participate in welcoming admitted Ph.D students to the School of Physics. Part of the day included touring around our facilities and introduction to physics faculty members and research labs.

By the evening, prospect students were invited by GAP for dinner, the chance for them to check out restaurants and bars the city has to offer. We’d like to thank faculty members that financially contributed in making this event possible.

Physics Forum – APS March Meeting Practice Talks

GAP offered the opportunity to several graduate students to present their research ahead of the APS March Meeting Conference, happening in Boston this year. Talks were given in the format of contributed presentations, along with questions and comments designed to provide feedback to the speaker. We thank the following students for presenting their results:

  • James McInerneyInducing Chirality in Homeotropic Nematics via Confinement Geometry
  • Shashank Markande A Topological Perspective of Knitted Fabrics
  • Xiaojian Bai: A Quest to Quantum Dipolar Kagome Ice
  • Andrew SchulzMechanics of Elephant Trunk Wrinkles

In the future, we hope to re-conduct this session for presenters attending the APS March Meeting, and extend it to those attending the April Meeting and the Division of Fluid Dynamics Meeting as well.

We’d also like to remind that the Physics Forums remain an excellent platform for graduate students to present their research to the whole student body of our school, throughout the whole academic year. Schedule for Physics Forum can be found here.