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PANDA Network

peer mentoring program, work as a peer mentor, PANDA organizing committee, incoming students

What is the PANDA Network?

The PANDA Network is a peer mentoring program in the Physics & Astronomy Department. It pairs incoming physics majors with upper-class mentors. The goal of PANDA is to strengthen the sense of belonging of undergraduate students in the Physics & Astronomy Department by fostering positive peer relationships, promoting inclusivity, and connecting students to resources that will be useful throughout their undergraduate careers and beyond.

How can this help me as an…

…incoming student?

As part of the Undergraduate Seminar course that you’ll take (PHYS 1980 – hopefully early in your career here), students are grouped into small cohorts along with a team of upper-class peer mentors. 

Members of your cohort will get to know each other through activities over the course of the semester, and you’ll work together on ways to enhance your experience in our department. Example topics include how and who to ask for a letter of recommendation, strategies for choosing classes, and how to get involved in extracurriculars.

This is in addition to the traditional curriculum of this seminar, which includes writing personal statements and CVs, and learning about the research of the department from faculty.

And it’s not all “work”, either – your mentors want to get to know you as a person, and for you to get to know them. There’s plenty of time during the semester for you and your cohort to share hobbies, play games, and de-stress together.


…upper-class student?

There are two main ways to be involved in the PANDA Network, use your expertise to help our incoming students, and gain professional experience of your own.

One is to work as a peer mentor, collaborating with one or more mentor partners to run discussions with a cohort of students taking the introductory PHYS 1980 seminar (see some example topics above). The main goal of the mentors is to make their cohort feel welcome in our department and feel prepared for a great experience as physics majors.

The other way is to serve on the PANDA organizing committee as a student member. The committee oversees the program logistics, provides training for the mentors, and prepares background material and guides to help the mentors facilitate discussions. The committee also includes faculty and staff working with the student members to achieve these goals.

Both roles – mentors and committee members – are excellent ways to help our incoming students benefit from your experience and strengthen our undergraduate community.


How to apply:

All students who have taken the PHYS 2210-2220 intro sequence (or equivalent) are encouraged to apply as PANDA Network mentors and/or committee members. Both mentors and committee members are paid at an hourly rate of at least $15, with expected time commitments of 2-6 hours/week throughout the semester. Applications for the Fall 2023 semester are open now: click here (if this form is closed, check this space later in the semester for an updated Spring 2024 application). Contact Professor Gail Zasowski at with any questions.