Here are a few things to keep in mind during your graduate career at SU:
It is to your advantage to participate in as many activities as time allows. Consider attending seminars and journal club meetings (the journal club meetings are generally better for beginning students) as well as visiting faculty to talk with them about their research. See Finding a Research Advisor below.
As a TA or a fellow, you will receive a certain number of tuition credits. It is to your advantage to use all of these. You will need a certain number of credits to graduate. Later in your career, you are likely to be supported on a Research Assistantship from your advisor who will not wish to pay extra for course credits. Note that it is possible to transfer some tuition credits received during the academic year to the summer session. Independent study courses, thesis, etc. are good ways to use these credits. Talk to your academic advisor about the possibilities.
Suppose you would like to particpate in a course but either a) you do not have the tuition credits to pay for it or b) you will not have time to complete the homework. In this case, consider "auditing" the course. According to page 8 of the Fall 2001 Time Schedule of Classes [I'm not looking up the exact page again in future years, but it is probably close by], ``Graduate students, who have appointments as graduate assistants, graduate associates, and graduate fellows are eligible to audit courses during the Fall and Spring Semesters at no additional charge.'' (This must be on the web somewhere too, but I don't know where! If you do, please tell me!) An audit is simply an official record that you particpated in the class -- no grade is assigned. Audits are good for the department as well as for you. Records of auditing students combined with those of fully registered students document student interest in a course, helping the department to justify the teaching of smaller enrollment advanced courses to the University administration.
If you have an idea for how to improve graduate life in the department, please contact the graduate affairs committee (Mark Bowick, Joe Schechter, Paul Souder) or the GSO. Consider becoming involved in one of these groups, or with the colloquium committee. Active participation in the life of the department is the best way to feel at home.
Students will have two types of faculty advisors during the course of their studies. The most important of these is the Research Advisor who will guide the student through the original research that leads to the Ph.D. The Research Advisor is chosen through a process of negotiation between the student and a faculty member with whom the student wishes to study. The student should approach a variety of faculty and explore the various options during the first and second year of graduate studies. Students are expected to have found a research advisor by the end of the second or the beginning of the third year of graduate studies. Depending on the students' preparation, a student may find advisors and begin research earlier. See the departmental research page for a description of some of the research activities underway in the department. Click here for a list of faculty who describe themselves as currently looking for new graduate students and/or research assistants.
The second advisor is the Academic Advisor. New graduate students are assigned an academic advisor to help them choose appropriate coursework, to consult on various issues, and to allow them to form a personal relationship with one of the faculty. The academic advisor will follow the student's progress and assist of difficulties arise. Academic advisors may or may not have expertise in the particular field in which the student wishes to study, but should be able to help the student make contacts with those who do. A student's academic advisor typically does not become their research advisor, although this may happen from time to time.
Students may also contact members of the Graduate Committee for help and advice. Faculty members serving on the graduate committee are Mark Bowick, Joe Schechter and Paul Souder. The role of the Graduate committee is to monitor and improve the graduate student environment and experience in the department, as well as to advise individual students as the need arises. Do not hesitate to contact any member of the committee with a comment, suggestion, or question.
As described above, this is a negotiated process between the student and
the potential advisor. The student should take responsibility for this
process and actively seek out potential advisors. Faculty
are happy to talk to students about available positions and
opportunities long before any firm commitments need to be made. Although some
students may not enter into a formal relationship with an advisor until the
beginning of their third year, students should begin exploring the various
possibilities soon after their arrival in
If you plan to present a paper or poster at a conference, you should apply to the Physics Department for travel support. Typical support is dependent on available funds, purpose and supporting document and recommendation from research adviser. It is suggested that these travel funds be requested as early as possible while there are funds available to disburse.
Travel support is available for only one conference per fiscal year (July 1 through June 30). Please contact Diane Sanderson for the current forms (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This web page prepared by Don Marolf. Edited & revised by Diane Sanderson ( August 15, 2007) and Mark Bowick (Nov. 15, 2005).