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Graduate Student Advisory Committee (GSAC)

The Department of Physics & Astronomy's Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC) serves to provide support and advice to all current and prospective graduate students in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah, from the application process to course work, research, and graduation. More specifically, GSAC:

  • Provides advice and council regarding coursework, research, graduation, and career planning for prospective, incoming, current, and defending graduate students
  • Makes recommendations to the department and university in the Retention, Promotion, & Tenure (RPT) process for departmental faculty
  • Organizes the Graduate Research Seminar and Graduate Student Socials
  • Provides recommendations and support in development of new departmental policy

For more information about GSAC, current and upcoming events, and more, please see below. If you have any questions, please contact us!

GSAC Newsletter

GSAC recently sent out an email to all grads with important information for several start-of-semester activities. For those who were not able to access this email, please see the GSAC Blog for more info!

Introducing Virtual Grad Lounge and Weekly Social Hour!

social hourBeginning Spring 2021, GSAC is excited to offer a virtual graduate student lounge, since the physical lounge space in South Physics is temporarily closed due to CoVID restrictions. This space, hosted via, is available for all graduate students 24/7 as a place to study, work together on homework or research, socialize, and more!

As well, GSAC will be using the grad lounge to host weekly Grad Social Hours on Fridays at 5pm, beginning Jan. 29th. These weekly Social Hours will have virtual games, movies/shows, general socializing, and BYO food and drinks. Come join us and socialize with your fellow grads!

Spring 2021 - Grad Social Small Groups

example flyerGSAC and the Grad Social Committee is continuing to help organize Grad Social Small Groups! This shift due to CoVID restrictions will allow smaller groups of students to connect over common interests such as rock climbing, hiking, video games, and more!

Graduate Research Seminar

We are excited to announce the Fall 2020 GRS sign-up! All talks this Fall will be on Thursdays from 3-4pm MT, held via Zoom, as shown in the schedule linked below. Please use this link to sign up! In addition to the usual grad student talks where grads give 15-60 minutes talks in preparation for conferences, qualifying exams, dissertation defenses, etc., GSAC will be inviting folks from outside the department to give professional development talks, like the following:
  • Experts with Physics Ph.D's who have transitioned to careers in industry
  • Folks from the Graduate School to discuss fellowships, applying to jobs, preparing dissertations, etc.
  • Faculty from other departments/universities who identify as members of underrepresented minorities (URM)
  • Faculty from other departments/universities to discuss networking at conferences

Sign Up for GRS Talk

Graduate Student Socials

GSAC is excited to continue partnering with the Grad Social Committee to host Graduate Student Socials! Because of CoVID restrictions, GSAC and the Grad Social Committee have shifted gears to provide a new type of social event, the Grad Social Small Groups!

Grad Social Small Groups

These small groups are more focused groups of individuals who share a collective interest.  Instead of having large, in-person socials like we normally would, we are now hosting more self contained groups that can meet more often and form tighter bonds.

There are four preliminary small group ideas, but if you have another idea and want to lead the way (social video games, skiing, kite flying, dog parties, etc.) let us know and we can put feelers out to gauge interest!

Sign ups require name and contact information, as well as filling out your availability for the rest of the year.  In general availability will entail checking whether or not you are free to participate during a given weekend.

We are looking for excited individuals to help organize and plan events for these small groups! If interested, please reach out to Ben Gibson.




This group is for people who want to get outdoors.  You can be a beginner with no experience, or have just gotten off the Appalachian Trail, doesn’t matter.  The goal is to set up at least one hike in the SLC area every weekend, depending on interest.  We figure this one will be popular, so we will do our best to accommodate everyone. Sign up  and we will start planning your next excursion. Happy Trails!



Outdoor Rock Climbing

We have lots of avid climbers in this department, so this group is intended to get them up rocks as much as possible. Currently the plan is to do climbs every weekend as long as weather permits. Sadly the U’s Campus Recreation Services are not renting out climbing equipment, so this group will be limited to people who already own at least shoes and a harness. Ropes, belay devices, and all the other gadgetry will be provided by members of the group. Sign up here to find your fellow rock rats!



Virtual Dungeons and Dragons

This group is for anyone interested in the penultimate table game, DnD. Everyone from the experienced dungeon master, to the level 8 fire mage, to the newcomer who doesn’t know why there are 7 different dice is welcome here.Members of this group will meet weekly to learn the game, level up their characters, and achieve everlasting glory! Sign up here and include your experience level to start questing today!



Virtual Meet and Eat

This group is more laid back for those of us who just want to have conversations that aren’t about research or classes. This group will meet periodically throughout the week via Zoom to have lunch and chat. We think this will be a good chance to have a break during the day and get some non-academic socialization in; we all need some of that right now. Sign up here with your availability weekdays between 11:00am-2:00pm to talk, eat, and unwind!




GSAC Leadership

Each year, GSAC holds elections with the entire graduate student body to elect new GSAC leadership and members. Each official position is a one-year term, and graduate students are invited to serve in either official positions or as general officers.

The official positions of GSAC, and brief descriptions, are given below:

Chair: Oversees all aspects of GSAC organization and activity. This includes coordinating and overseeing GSAC's RPT process, GSAC's web presence, coordination of strategic plans with departmental staff and faculty, acting as member of College of Science Council, etc.

Chair-Elect: Supports and shadows GSAC Chair to become familiar with all aspects of GSAC. Oversees the Graduate Research Seminar.

Treasurer: Maintains and tracks all GSAC finances, including for Peer Mentor Program, Graduate Student Social, Graduate Student Lounge, Graduate Research Seminar, etc. Organizes and maintains the Peer Mentor Program.

Social Coordinator: Oversees the Graduate Student Social Committee. Organizes, attends, and runs all Graduate Student Socials. Supports departmental efforts focused on recruitment efforts and activities for prospective and incoming graduate students.

Historian: Maintains, organizes, and distributes records of all GSAC meetings and correspondences within GSAC, as well as with departmental faculty, leadership, and students.

Meet the 2020-2021 GSAC Leadership

Jason May (Chair)

Jason May is a fourth year Ph.D student in the department. His research focus is physics education research (PER), where he studies student engagement with scientific practices in interdisciplinary laboratory settings. In his free time, Jason enjoys cooking with his wife, gaming, and playing with his dogs.

Hannah Fritze (Chair-Elect)

Hannah is a 2nd year graduate student in Dan Wik’s group working on observational X-ray astrophysics research on intermediate mass black holes. She has previously done experimental work at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab, and currently serves as chair-elect of GSAC. Raised in the Bay Area, CA, she attended Wesleyan University for undergrad. Her hobbies include playing Dungeons & Dragons, hiking, reading, and playing board games.

Allyson Brodzeller( Treasurer)

Allyson is a 2nd year graduate student and the current treasurer for GSAC. She received a B.S. in physics and mathematics from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Currently, she is working with Professor Kyle Dawson studying the diversity of quasars and has recently become involved with the DESI collaboration. She enjoys cooking, hiking and just about anything involving animals or wildlife.

Ben Gibson (Social Coordinator)

Ben is a 2nd year grad and this years GSAC Social Coordinator. He is originally from North Carolina and did his undergraduate at Florida State University, where he got a BS in Physics. His research is with Dr. Gail Zasowski, with whom he is attempting to unravel the chemistry and kinematics of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31). He is a member of the SDSS Collaboration and works primarily with APOGEE data. His hobbies include rock climbing, golfing, music, hiking, and photography.

General Officers

Tamara Young

Tamara is a returning graduate student engaging in Physics Education Research (PER) with Dr. Lauren Barth-Cohen from the Department of Educational Psychology. Her recent research efforts include understanding how students mechanistically reason about complex physical phenomena.

Isaac Brown-Heft

Isaac is a 4th year graduate student in Yan (Sarah) Li's group doing experimental spin optics on hybrid perovskites. He has been involved with GSAC for three years, and served as GSAC chair for the 2018-2019 academic year. Raised in Eugene, OR, he attended University of Oregon for undergrad. His hobbies include music, drawing, video games, skiing, and backpacking.

Check out our GSAC blog for recent newsletters, graduate program updates, and other information!

GSAC always welcomes graduate students to contact us regarding questions, comments, or concerns. We meet with prospective and incoming students to discuss planning and managing coursework, choosing research groups, campus life, and more.

Please email us at or use this Google Form to contact us with any questions, comments, or concerns. If you wish to remain anonymous, please use the Google Form, which has options for anonymity.