Virtual Happy Hour

Image of attendees' sprites in gather.town virtual meeting
Gather.town IZ

This semester, join us Thursdays at 6pm EDT for a virtual Happy Hour in our gather.town IZ space!

See the School of Physics slack, or your GT email for the link to the space. You can join from Firefox or Chrome with video, or audio only from a mobile browser.

See the calendar below for the dates of all happy hours and other GAP events this semester! If you would like to add these events to your own calendar, see the Events tab for instructions.

AMA with David Ballantyne

Candid *screenshot* from AMA event with David Ballantyne

On November 12th, 2020, GAP hosted another Ask Me Anything Session, this time with Prof. David Ballantyne. Prof. Ballantyne answered questions about his life, career, and hobbies. Sharing insight into what it means to be an academic, and how he has been handling being at home during the pandemic, sharing also that he has created some of his own music (can be found here on SoundCloud).

Expect more AMA events with School of Physics faculty during the Spring 2021 semester.

AMA with Predrag Cvitanović

On October 8th, during the regularly scheduled GAP virtual Happy Hour, we held our first Ask Me Anything (AMA) session with special guest, Prof. Predrag Cvitanović. Answering questions submitted prior to the event as well as questions from the chat, Predrag shared interesting life stories, insight about being a global citizen, and advice about being a happy and successful graduate student and physicist.

Screen Shot from MS Teams AMA with Predrag showing people laughing as Predrag makes a joke

November, 12th at 6pm EDT, join us for another AMA session with guest Prof. David Ballantyne, Astrophysicist, Associate Chair for Graduate Studies in the School of Physics, and improv comedian! Look out for the announcement via email/Slack/the Facebook group the week before for a link to the meeting and one for submitting anonymous questions.

Physics Focus

GAP held a physics focus on March 10th to continue to showcase some of the recently published work by graduate students and eat some food! We had four presenters, listed below.

Zack Jackson – A robot made of robots: Emergent transport and control of a smarticle ensemble

James McInerney – Curved boundaries and chiral instabilities – two sources of twist in homeotropic nematic tori

Deborah Ferguson – Measuring Spin of the Remnant Black Hole from Maximum Amplitude

Adrien Saremi – Topological elasticity of flexible structures

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.

Last Mentoring Session!

On February 28th, GAP held our final mentoring session of the year for the current first-year graduate students. We focused this session on Special Problems, the importance of a good relationship with your advisor, and what the next steps are. These mentoring sessions have been extremely useful for GAP to get to know the first-years and understand how their year has been going. They have been very friendly and talkative, it’s been so fun meeting with them throughout the year!

After hearing some feedback about how classes are going this semester, we discussed summertime! This is the first semester without a heavy workload, and you will find yourself with a much more relaxed schedule. This can bring stress to some people who are used to lots of deadlines and structure. This is an opportunity to learn about your field, stay organized, and set up a new schedule for yourself and your advisor. Please reach out to any of the mentors if you would like any advice.

Finally, we talked about your relationship with your advisor. This is one of the most important things in graduate school that can make your life much easier. It’s important to have clear, consistent communication, and goals that are aligned. If you do not feel supported, evaluate why the relationship is not going as expected, and make efforts to improve the relationship or consider switching. This is again something the mentors can help with.

Thanks for being such an awesome year! We are super excited to see how your year ends up. We will see you at the end of the year party, and hopefully within GAP leadership soon!

GAP Career event – Dr. Matthew conrad

GAP continued its series of career events, where former Ph.D students present their current professional situations, what’s life like after grad’ school and how did they reach that point. This time, we invited GT alumnus Dr. Matthew Conrad.

Matthew is a former member of the Graphene group here at Tech, who used to work with Ed Conrad and he is now a R&D scientist in the materials department of Wolfspeed, a Cree Company, specialized in the manufacturing of more efficient power and wireless devices. Matthew described how his use of neural networks and AI to help his work to dislocation counting in materials.

About Wolfspeed: Wolfspeed is a manufacturing company specialized in wide bandgap semiconductors. Their products use silicon carbide (Sic) and gallium nitride (GaN) power devices. Their clients cover a wide range of multiple markets including military and aerospace, communications and industrial applications.

Stewart Long Visits to Discuss Nuclear Engineering

On November 22nd, Stewart Long, visited the School of Physics, to discuss his current career as an Engineering Program Manager. This was not his first time at the School of Physics, because he received his Bachelor of Science from the school back in 1975! It was great having him visit and the students had a lively discussion about the state of nuclear power, engineering, and managing a team.

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.

Preparing graduate physics students for their careers