Berkeley Physics Directed Reading Program
GOALS OF PDRP
The Berkeley Physics Directed Reading Program is a communal 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.
By connecting graduate students/post docs and undergraduates we intend to create a community with the shared goal of learning and producing more knowledge. This is a community based organization and can only be made possible through the volunteer work of the more senior members (mentors) and the encouraging passion of the mentees.
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/EPS graduate student in their respective department by meeting on a weekly basis and presenting a talk on their semester project near the end of the semester. Undergraduates are required to meet up with their graduate students/post docs weekly for a minimum of one hour. This meeting can also done via Zoom and you are able to meet more than 1 hour/week if you really dive into your topic.
Each group 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 graduate student can accommodate more than one student, they are allowed to guide a maximum of two students which are interested in the same topic.
Graduate students and undergraduate students can also sign up to be organized into a "Big PDRP Group" where you can work collectively with groups of 4 or more up to 10 max students at once. These usually have to be organized before the final pairing ahead of time with the organizers since it's a new format that we're trying.
The group is also allowed to explore topics in areas where nobody is in an expert in.
We expect the undergraduates to commit at least 3 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 undergraduate 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.
New for Fall 2023: Big Poster Session, no more individual presentations.
At the end of the semester (during RRR week), all undergraduates in their groups will meet up to give a talk in a giant poster session. We intend for the poster session to be attended by ALL PDRP undergraduates and all graduate students/post docs that can come. The poster session will be roughly 1 hour 40 minutes and we will divide all the undergraduates into three groups, each with 30 minutes to present to the other 2/3 who are walking around.
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. With most students being back on campus, this will take place in person by default however if a pair/triplet wishes to remain online, they may do so but the presentation will still be in person.
A mentor can accept a mentee for at most 2 continuous semesters.
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.
Every year, we recruit one new incoming graduate student to help with the organizing. Please email us if you are interested!
The current organizers of Fall 2023: Tehya Andersen, Andrés Franco Valiente, Emil Albrychiewicz, Abel Shiferaw, Jacquelyn Ho
The organizers of Spring 2023: Tehya Andersen, Andrés Franco Valiente, Emil Albrychiewicz
The organizers of Fall 2022 are: Haoxing Du, Jacquelyn Ho and Tehya Andersen
The organizers between Fall 2020 - Spring 2022 were: Andrés Franco Valiente, Haoxing Du and Jacquelyn Ho
Please send all other questions about the program to firstname.lastname@example.org directly.