The University of Utah
Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah

2018 Graduate Student Research Symposium a Great Success!

The second annual Department of Physics & Astronomy Graduate Research Symposium took place Friday, March 31, 2018 at the University of Utah Guest House.

The idea behind this event is to bring all graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and all career and tenure track faculty together to foster communication, collaboration, and the exchange of ideas. This event provides first year graduate students an excellent opportunity to get to know our research programs, and professors are able to advertise their research projects and open research positions, all in a more relaxed atmosphere, outside the classroom, thus encouraging more student/faculty interaction.

There was a great turnout, with 50 student poster presentations and close to 100 total attendees. The event stimulated vigorous scientific discussion and was also quite fun.

The award winners for best poster presentation are:

  • 1st Place - Vijith Jacobpoovelil from Dr. Gail Zasowski's research group with his poster:
    "Stellar Doppelgangers & the Power of Chemical Tagging"
  • 2nd Place - Sanduni Fernando & Jason Martineau from Dr. Jordan Gerton's research group with their poster:
    "High Information Point-Spread Functions for Color Sensitive Localization Microscopy"
  • 3rd Place - Megha Agarwal from Dr. Eugene Mishchenko's research group with her poster:
    "Binding Energy & Lifetime of Excitons in Metallic Nanotubes"
  • Honorable Mention: Kevin McCarthy from Dr. Valy Vardeny's research group with his poster:
    "The Effects of Galaxy Assembly Bias on Redshift-Space Distortions"

Vijith Jacobpoovelil

Jason Martineau

Megha Agarwal

Kevin McCarthy

If you see these students around the department, please congratulate them for their achievement!


More photos available here:



Society of Physics Students: New Officers

The University of Utah Society of Physics Students has held elections for the 2018-2019 school year and we are excited to announce the results:

President- Jared Coles

Vice President- Galen Bergsten

Treasurer- Maria Stokes

Outreach Coordinator- Maile Marriott

Outreach Coordinator- Jesse Snow

Secretary- Sage Yaeger

Historian- Zane Gerber

Historian- Jordan Lybarger

We look forward to your involvement in our activities for the remainder of this semester, and under new leadership next year. Thank you for your support!
The SPS leadership team



Results of the Department of Physics & Astronomy Review Released

In October 2017 we experienced the tragic death of one of our graduate students.  As a department we vowed to learn from this tragedy and to improve our graduate program. The university commissioned an outside review of all issues and concerns related to the experience of graduate students on our campus.  More details are available here. We are strictly following the department-related recommendations of the review and directives from the administration to help our students succeed in the best way we can.


Science Night Live with Dr. Sophie Caron

Wednesday, April 4, 2018  @ 5:30 p.m. - Science Night Live with Dr. Sophie Caron! "Brains Don’t Play Dice – or do They?" at Sky SLC (149 Pierpont Ave) in downtown Salt Lake City!


"Science Night Live public lectures offer a casual social and educational event in downtown Salt Lake. All events are held at Sky SLC (149 Pierpont Ave), beginning with a social at 5:30 and a lecture at 6:00 p.m. Free and open to the public! Must be 21 years of age or older."

with Dr. Sophie Caron,
Department of Biology, University of Utah

Brains Don’t Play Dice – or do They?

Date & Time: Wednesday, April 4, 2018 at 6:00pm (Social begins at 5:30pm)

Location: Sky SLC (149 Pierpont Ave)
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Animals are endowed with a range of sensory systems that gather information about the outside world. This information is processed by the brain and, sometimes, stored as a memory. Animals constantly use memories of past experiences to adjust their behavior. The smell of a nutritious fruit, for instance, will become attractive while that of a sickening chemical will be avoided. We know a great deal about how sensory input is received and processed by various sensory organs but we know much less about how experiences are stored as memories in the brain. How the brain — and in particular neuronal networks — is organized to provide both the flexibility and specificity required for memory formation is the topic I will be discussing.

Science Night Live is free and open to the public 21 or over. Please arrive early, as seating and parking will be limited. Click here to learn more about the Science Night Live lecture series.


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