Unique #: 57905
|The Pizza Seminar is held irregularly from week to week, to introduce both graduate and advanced undergraduate physics students to themes of basic research going on here in the Physics Department of the University of Texas at Austin. Usually the seminars do not begin until several weeks after the beginning of each semester. It is getting fairly rare to have more than six or seven speakers per semester, so check the schedule link above regularly, since it is updated as soon as new speakers and dates are added. [Posters announcing the seminars used to be placed on bulletin boards near the elevators on all the floors of PMA. Since the coming of the Pandemic, notification of seminars is via e-mail sent to all physics graduate students and faculty.]
On a typical Monday, especially in the Fall semester, you might find about 20 people in the audience for the week's seminar, of which a few are undergraduate senior physics majors, and around 10 are first-year graduate students, while about 5 are graduate students or postdocs in the speaker's research group. There are sometimes one or two "civilians," people from the greater Austin community who want to know about the speaker's research and its applications, and also several physics faculty members directly interested in the speaker's research.
Students registered CR/NC obviously must receive the equivalent of full attendance credit, in order to receive course credit. Those students who are registered for a letter grade, in addition to required attendance credit, have to do seminar-specific class work. For each faculty lecture, students registered for a letter grade must submit to Coker via e-mail within two weeks of the lecture a report on, and synopsis of, the content of the lecture. These reports should be in the form of an attached pdf file. BE CAREFUL! Every semester typically at least one student thinks he or she is registered CR/NC when he or she is actually registered for a letter grade, and thus flunks the class!
If you register for the class Credit/No credit, your entire grade is based on attendance at every scheduled seminar. If you miss even one pizza seminar during the semester, you could expect a grade of NC, if few seminars are held that semester!
Each semester, faculty from many different research groups will talk about current research and what is involved in doing it, as well as immediate or near-future opportunities for students. Note well: It is current departmental policy that graduate students should have chosen a research area by the end of their first year.
The atmosphere is informal. Graduate students relatively new to the department are especially encouraged to attend, but junior and senior physics majors will also find the presentations of great interest. In the past, advanced undergraduates have sometimes made up about 50% of the audience at the Pizza Seminars.
The Pizza Seminar tries to do several things simultaneously.
(1) It provides a chance to hang around with cohorts and faculty outside of formal classes.
For those of you who have yet to find a faculty research advisor for your thesis or dissertation, reflect that by far the most important decision facing you in graduate school is the choice of a specific research area. You're about to stop doing homework problems where the answer was obtained so long ago no one knows who to credit, and plunge into the bottomless depths of open-ended questions. Your entire future career as a physicist will be determined by a single decision... it's wise to seek information widely before making that decision.
Even if you already think you know what area you want to do graduate research in, you may find while listening to the Pizza Seminar lectures that
(1) there is something going on that interests you as much as, or even more than the topic you are currently leaning toward, or
(email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org)