Berkeley Physics Directed Reading Program



The Berkeley Physics Directed Reading Program is an academic program constructed in order to allow undergraduates in the physical sciences to read on special physics topics that isn't a part of their standard coursework with the assistance and guidance of a graduate student in the department. Generally the EPS, astronomy or physics department.

There are several topics and courses which are not always offered on a semester basis and we recognize the benefit that arises when taught directly by another physicist. We wish to provide an opportunity to explore interesting subjects such as specialized topics in biophysics, condensed matter physics, mathematical physics, chemical physics, EPS, geophysics, fluid dynamics, astrophysics, chemical physics, gravitational physics, plasma physics, AMO, cosmology, ​quantum field theory, string theory, quantum information and essentially anything else while providing an additional pathway where undergraduates can connect with graduate students.

Furthermore, we're aware that the barrier of entry to theoretical physics research is extremely high during undergraduate years and we hope DRP helps bridge that gap. This does not restrict the program to only theorists. We encourage everybody to join.



The mentee will work closely with a physics/astrophysics graduate student in the department by meeting on a weekly basis and presenting a talk on their semester project near the end of the semester. Mentees are required to meet up with their mentors weekly for a minimum of one hour. During the pandemic, this meeting is recommended to be done via Zoom.

Each group of mentee/mentors will decide on a project at the start of the semester after the application period. Due to education research, it's known that physics learning is most effective in peer groups thus if the mentor can accommodate more than one student, they are allowed to guide a maximum of two students which are interested in the same topic.

We expect the mentee to commit at least 4 hours a week working on their reading project. The required time can be filled up through either problem solving, reading or discussion. We expect the mentee to keep track of this via an honor code. Anymore time invested is certainly allowed and up to the motivation of the individual which we expect to be very motivated as the demand for the a spot could be very high in any given semester.

At the end of the semester (during RRR week), we expect the mentee to give roughly a 10 minute talk on what they have learned for the semester. Being able to communicate physics is an important ability to have in academia and thus one of the other outcomes of the program is to improve this skill. In light of the covid-19 pandemic, this presentation will be given via zoom.

Alternatively due to the current pandemic, if the student does not have access to a stable internet provider. A short LaTeX summary of what they've learned can be turned in.

(Click on Previous Projects for examples.)



Directed Reading Programs have been traced back to UChicago in 2003. Since then, several similar programs have arisen to help undergraduates in mathematics departments obtain experience in preparation for advanced study. We have not found a program that has chosen to do this with physics specifically and thus we hope that Berkeley can spearhead the way in order to help undergraduates in physics be more exposed to technical research areas.

The current organizers as of Spring 2021 are: Andrés Franco Valiente, Haoxing Du and Hannah Weaver

If you are a mentor or a graduate student that wishes to help with the administration of the program, please contact any of the current organizers:,

Please send all other questions about the program to directly.



All questions can be sent to:


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