Post-Swat Plans for Swarthmore Astro/Physics Students
Saturday 4 June 2005 at 3 pm
A Post-Swat Plans for Astro/Physics Students meeting was held at Swarthmore during Alumni Weekend 2005 in the Science Center room L26.
Refreshments were served. Alums offered advice for current students based on their post-swat job, grad school, life, etc experiences. All interested students (presumably on campus for summer research) and profs attended.
Each alum gave a little description of what they've been doing since Swat and offered some advice to current undergrads. Then students asked questions and discussion was generated. At the begining and end of the meeting, current students, profs, and alums chatted one-on-one over snacks.
Thanks to all these alums who spoke: Andrew Fefferman '03, Roban Kramer '03, Robert McFarland '02, Mark Romanowsky '03, Stephanie Tonnesen '03, Beth Biller '00, Jacob Krich '00, Slava Lukin '00, Thalia Mills '00, Laura Pomerance '00, James Deane '90, Jim Moskowitz '88, Ines Cifuentes '75, and John Goodman '60.
Please note that Lou Hand '55 had hoped to speak with students but could not attend the meeting. Please feel free to find his contact information in the alumni blurbs section and write to him if you would like to chat.
Thanks to all students and profs who attended. Special appreciation is extended to Victoria Swisher '05 who helped publicize and organize the event.
Email contact: Robin Smith '03 (robinleslie-at-alum.swarthmore.edu).
Wednesday 20 April 2005 at 4.30 pm
Robin Smith distributed a version of Lisa Larrimore's grad school handout including revisions by Viva Horowitz and additions of grad school alternatives and fellowships advice.
Alum speakers included Robyn Harshaw '03, Joan Hoffmann '98, Jim Moskowitz '88, Peter Yim '86, and Susana Deustua '83. Senior speakers included Preety Sidhu, Lauren Willis, Viva Horowitz, Bo Hu, Katie Schlessinger, Aongus Murchadha, Nathan Shupe, and Cameron Higby-Naquin.
Contact meeting organizers Robin Smith '03 and Preety Sidhu '05 with comments and feedback (robinleslie-at-alum.swarthmore.edu).
Thanks to all who attended our Post-Swat Plans for Astro/Physics Students meeting at Swarthmore in Dupont 133. Seniors spoke about their job app and grad school experiences, and many interested students and profs attended!
Andrew Fefferman distributed his revised version of Lisa Larrimore's grad school info handout.
Senior speakers included Andrew Meade, Mike Loeb, Stephanie Tonnesen, Rabi Whitaker, Roban Kramer, Melaku Muluneh, Matt Landreman, Abram Falk, Mark Romanowsky, Andrew Fefferman, and Robin Smith.
Meeting organizers: Robin Smith '03 and Andrew Fefferman '03.
At a meeting in Dupont 139, seniors spoke about their job app and grad school experiences, and many interested students and profs attended!
Lisa Larrimore distributed a grad school info handout that has since been revised and posted on this website.
Senior speakers included Nick Ouellette, Kevin Setter, Lisa Larrimore, Robert McFarland, and others.
Meeting organizer: Lisa Larrimore '02.
Here is a list of Swat astro/physics alums in a variety of careers with blurbs about their experiences and contact information. Don't hesitate to email these alums with any questions. They are happy to serve as mentors for Swat students embarking on careers!
Dina Aronzon '05 (Dina.Aron-at-gmail.com)
I was a Chemical Physics major at Swat. I am living in Cambridge for a year and working as a Research Assistant in the Medical Oncology department of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. After the year is over, I plan to spend the summer traveling before beging graduate school in applied physics at Harvard (I deferred).
In general, I would really recomend taking a year off if you're thinking about graduate school. Feel free to email me with questions regarding applying to graduate school, deferring, looking for a science job, or anything else.
Good luck and remember, there's a whole wide world out there and nothing is harder than Swat! - May 2005
Kellan Baker '04 (kellan.baker-at-gmail.com)
translating and editing scientific papers written in Russian but translated to English...currently living in Moscow - March 2005
Steven Bardwell '71 (sbardwell-at-lbmsys.com)
After graduating from Swarthmore in 1971, I received a PhD in theoretical plasma physics from the University of Colorado in 1976. Since that time, I have had a computer consulting business specializing in printer drivers in Marshall, NC. - May 2003
P Timothy Barker '69 (tbarker-at-wheatonma.edu)
Rob Biggar '91 (rob-at-rentec.com)
When I graduated from Swarthmore, I was very into physics and confident in my abilities to tackle anything graduate school could hit me with.
For some reason I did not apply for an NSF grant. I really should have done that.
I went to Cornell University where I was completely knocked for a loop. For one thing, I discovered that my education had not been as broad as I thought. In particular, it was pretty weak in Classical Mechanics, especially the classical Hamiltonian and Lagrangian.
More importantly, at Cornell (as with many places) you have to work your way through by being a TA. Nothing in my Swarthmore experience prepared me for this (it is not the same as a seminar, trust me). The teaching ended up sucking up all my time, and my coursework was terrible. Also, I didn't hook up with a good study group which is key to handling unfamiliar material.
My first summer I started doing research involving micro-mechanical oscillators and magnetic thin films. Here I should have spent much more time picking the brains of older students and others in the field working at other universities, as well as thoroughly reading the literature, instead of spending all the time in the lab, which is what I did.
In the end I graduated at a time when the market for Professors was poor, and my research was not too hot. I'd spent a lot of time programming, and we were in the midst of the tech bubble, so I got a few offers for programming jobs.
I ended up taking a job I'd heard about from my brother doing programming and finance.
I like doing finance; it is exciting being involved with the evolution of financial markets worldwide. I also find the analytic skills that are necessary in physics are extremely useful here, and are lacking in many people in business. This can be true when trying make sure obscure clauses in contracts are not to your disadvantage or when determining how the idiosyncratic rules of a foreign market are going to affect your ability to trade there. On the other hand, I miss the comradery of the big conferences and I miss actually building and designing physical _things_.
Good luck to you all! - May 2005
Beth Biller '00
astrophysics major at Swat - May 2005
Gerald Blum '64
Elise Arle Brooks '89 (elisembrooks-at-yahoo.com)
I graduated in 1989 with a double major in math and physics. I applied for math graduate school, but I decided not to go, because I didn't think "I can't think of anything else to do" was a good enough reason to go. After a short stint at a Christian soup kitchen in Chester, I started working as a software tester, otherwise known as software quality assurance engineer, quality assurance analyst, or software test engineer. I really enjoyed the work and did it for a total of 12 years, at 4 different companies. I would encourage the students to consider this profession. Since 2002 I have been a stay-at-home mom. Eventually I plan to return to software work. - April 2005
Joanna Brown '02 (brownjo-at-origins.colorado.edu)
Peter Calingaert '52
Majoring in physics, I realized by the beginning of my senior year that I was more interested in the use of mathematical models than in experimental science. I moved into applied mathematics, dug into computers, and became a computer professional -- grad school, academe, industry, academe, retirement. A one-page biography is available by link from my home page (vide infra). - April 2005
Professor Emeritus of Computer Science
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
George Caplan '69 (gcaplan-at-channel1.com)
George Caplan is an Instructor in Science Laboratory in the physics department at Wellesley College. He joined the faculty in September 2000. From December 1976 to August 2000, Mr. Caplan was a computer systems engineer at Nova Biomedical in Waltham, MA. While at Nova, he designed and wrote all of the software for "Nova 1", the first microprocessor-based clinical analyzer to use ion selective electrodes for the measurement of sodium and potassium. In 1993 and 1994 Mr. Caplan was adjunct professor of physics at Massachusetts Bay Community College in Wellesley Hills, MA. In 1997 and 1998 he was a consultant to the Boston Calculus Project, an NSF funded project to expand and improve calculus classes in the Boston Public Schools. Before working at Nova Biomedical, he was employed as an engineer by several other firms including Wang Laboratories. He also worked as a laboratory curator in the physics department at Boston University.
Mr. Caplan holds a B.A. degree with high honors in physics from Swarthmore College. He also holds an S.M degree in applied physics from Harvard University.
An avid cyclist, he is a member of the League of American Bicyclists, the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, and the Charles River Wheelmen. He has served as a board member and as publicity director for the Boston Support Group of the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. See www.channel1.com/users/gcaplan. - April 2003
Carl Chen (gangchen-at-mit.edu)
I just completed my PhD here at MIT in the area of electrical engineering, more specifically, in the area of nanolithography. Be happy to provide whatever advice that I am capable of about life after Swarthmore. I am at the Space Nanotechnology Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. See http://snl.mit.edu and http://www.mit.edu/~gangchen. - May 2003
Carl Sagan Chair for the Study of Life in the Universe, SETI Institute: http://www.seti.org
Associate Professor (Research), Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305 USA
Co-Director, Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University: http://cisac.stanford.edu- May 2003
Ines Cifuentes '75 (icifuentes-at-pst.ciw.edu)
My story of what I did after Swarthmore where I majored in physics and took astrophysics courses at Haverford is long and complicated. I got an MS in geophysics from Stanford University, worked for two years at the US Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California studying seismicity of Guatemala and Nicaragua. I then went to Columbia University where I became the first woman to get a PhD in seismology--it was a classic horror story of a woman in science. Suffice it to say that my advisor tried to throw me out, he did cut off my funding so that I finished as a spouse because my husband who had finished his PhD before me was working as a research associate at Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory. I did a postdoc in Paris at the Institut de Physique du Globe; I had a NATO fellowship and an NSF fellowship. I came back to the US with my family which now included a 6 month old son. I had an NSF grant and was able to continue doing research at the Carnegie Institution where I had done most of the research for my thesis. Once the money ran out I found myself paying to do seismology because I still had to pay the babysitter. Since we're not independently wealthy I realized I had to find a paying job. Maxine Singer '52 was president of the Carnegie Institution and was looking for someone to help write a proposal to NSF to start a teacher training program. I took a leap of faith and ten years later I direct the Carnegie Academy for Science Education where we are working with the DC Public Schools to transform schools into ones where children are successfully educated. It is the hardest work I have ever done. - May 2003
Dave Connors '03 (email on Alumni Relations Directory)
For the last two years, I have run a regional campaign office for the State PIRGS (Public Interest Research Groups) where I have done fund raising and grassroots organizing. To date I have raised over $2 million and have won a number of campaigns including: passing the Clean Cars Act in New Jersey, establishing a renewable portfolio standard in Colorado, and preventing Washington state from becoming the national dump site for low level nuclear waste. Doing astrophysics research for three years at Swarthmore was incredibly helpful in preparing me for my current job. Doing research I learned the tools that I now use to design and run effective fund raising experiments and to understand large quantities of performance and campaign statistics. Next fall  I plan on attending graduate school to study library and information science. - March 2005
Patrick Connolly '01 (connolly-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
working in US Patent office - May 2003
Laura Cornell '86 (lcornell-at-mindspring.com)
After my graduation in '86 as a physics major from Swarthmore, I taught two years of high school physics at Moorestown Friends School in Moorestown, New Jersey. From there I moved to California, later becoming a Spanish bilingual elementary school teacher. I currently work part time in the public schools as a resource teacher in conflict resolution and part time as a yoga teacher. I have completed a Masters' degree in East-West Psychology and am working on a PhD in Humanities. My dissertation is a collaborative project with other yoga teachers on ecology and Yoga. So as you can see, my career has been all over the map, but I have loved every bit of it, and the best is still to come. I'd be happy to be a contact for Swat students. - May 2003
Julie (Schwendiman) Crockett '97 (julie-at-crocketts.org)
After three summers of REU, I kind of knew that grad school wasn't for me, but I half-heartedly applied to grad school anyway (my physics GRE scores were ridiculously low-- partly Swats fault, and mine, simply bc most of that memorization stuff had to be learned out of class) since my only role models at Swat were the professors, and that seemed like the 'thing to do'. I ended up deciding to teach math/physics at a private school (Middlesex w/ summers at Exeter), and along the way found many science Swatties who had pursued the same path.
After three years of boarding school life, I was somewhat exhausted and ready to focus my energies elsewhere. My husband had just finished his MS in CS at MIT, so we moved to Seattle for him to work for "the devil" (aka Mr. Gates). Since then, I've started my own Tutoring and Educational Consulting business, started a family (Lincoln was born on 10/16/03), and started and almost finished a Master's Degree in Physics at UW (the classes for which were much easier than my Swarthmore classes...4.0s all the way through...talk about a confidence boost!).
Currently I'm writing my thesis on effective teaching of the photoelectirc effect using inquiry-based learning. I'm also revising my resume and sending out applications to community colleges in hopes of finding a part-time teaching positions this coming fall. For more updates (specifically for my classmates, it's fun to read what everyone's up to, visit www.crocketts.org which unfortunately is down at the moment but will be back up for sure by 05/05/05).
Advice to graduating students: Look for other options than a 5-7yr commitment to grad school. Including teaching, opportunities abroad, econ/finance, and grad school in less competitive areas (history/philosophy of science, science education, terminal master of science/physics programs, comp sci, etc.). And, of course, consider the few programs in the country where you can get your PhD in physics while doing research in PhysEduc (like @ UWash).
Also, directly after graduation is your chance to try 'something else'. Once I had taught for 3 years I had a hard time getting my foot into the door to do other things (like Consulting, Finance, etc.) which would have been much easier to get into right out of grad school. - April 2005
A Scott Currie '88 (scott.currie-at-nyu.edu)
Although I did teach high school physics for a quick minute over a decade ago, I've since left the astro/physics field behind completely. I'm currently completing a doctoral dissertation on avant-garde jazz at New York University, and performing occasionally on saxophone with an improvising orchestra I've organized in New York City (we just played a series of engagements with pianist/composer Cecil Taylor if that's of any interest...). Best regards to John Boccio and Frank Moscatelli, along with the rest of my '88-'89 physics cohort! - May 2003
I'm now finishing a doctorate in ethnomusicology at NYU (diss. title Sounding Visions/Improvising Freedom: a comparative ethnographic study of avant-garde jazz in New York and Berlin) and have been performing occasionally as a saxophonist with the Sound Vision Orchestra in projects with artists like Cecil Taylor, Marty Ehrlich, Bill Dixon, and Alan Silva. My very best to John Boccio and Frank Moscatelli, who had a great impact on my life and outlook (if not my eventual choice of career). - April 2005
Charles Danforth '95 (charlesdanforth-at-gmail.com)
I graduated in 1995, spent a year as an errant fortran programmer at the University of Kentucky and another seven at Johns Hopkins getting my Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Now I'm a postdoc at the University of Colorado at Boulder observing of interstellar and intergalactic materials, climbing mountains, and generally enjoying life. For more details: http://casa.colorado.edu/~danforth. I'm happy to talk to any and all Swatties and am excited that Preety Sidhu '05 will be joining us here in Boulder next year.
As for advice on the future, here are what meager words of 'wisdom' I can provide:
Get a good background on the basics--E&M, quantum, stat mech, mechanics, and math methods--before branching out into whatever specialty you're interested in. This goes for astronomers as well as physicists. I learned too much astronomy and not enough physics as an undergrad and spent a year or two bolstering my physics background in grad school.
Grad school is not for the weak. It's a neccessary step if you really want a career as a professional scientist, but it's not a lifestyle to put yourself through on a whim. Grad school is NOT a continuation of the carefree days of Swarthmore. There are many other choices besides the academic one open to you. On many of these you'll make more money and have more flexibility than in a purely academic career. That said, grad school can be a time of great adventure and intellectual and personal growth. In any case, a year off in the 'real world' is highly recommended to give some perspective to your choices.
Make lots of connections in lots of different areas of physics/astronomy. Sad as it may be, networking is an extremely important part of the job. Similarly, try lots of different avenues of science and stay diverse even when you're being pigeon-holed by your increasingly focussed thesis research. I've worked on plasma physics, dust, asteroids, supernova remnants, and quasars in addition to my main research focii. - April 2005
Merav Datan '84 (datan-at-igc.org)
After graduating Swarthmore I entered graduate school at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel but discovered that even though I loved the physics, I did not like what appeared to be the available options for further work - mainly military applications. So I left graduate school but continued to take classes at the Hebrew University in math (thinking that maybe a more theoretical approach would be better) while working at the Ethiopian Consulate in Jerusalem. Eventually I decided to try international law, finished Columbia Law School in 1994 (a physics and math training were useful for analytical thinking and seemed to convince others - admissions officers? professors? - that I could think), then found work in New York with various non-governmental organizations affiliated with the United Nations and working on nuclear disarmament. I have also done some consulting for the UN on disarmament and for a former Canadian foreign minister on prevention of an arms race in outer space. The physics training was definitely useful for the combination of international law and nuclear physics relevant to this work. I am now in New Zealand planning to start postgraduate legal studies. - May 2003
Petrina Dawson '76 (petrina_dawson-at-standardandpoors.com)
After graduating with a Physics and Math degree in '76, in the words of the poet (Tom Lehrer) I started "sliding down the razor blade of life" with a teaching position in a private high school--Algebra II, Physics and 9th grade Science Concepts. I enjoyed my teaching very much, but the free time to available money equation did not balance well enough for me--too much free time and not enough money. Therefore I moved on to better pay as an engineering/research technician, first at Pullman-Kellog(chemical engineering firm) and at Exxon Research. In this position I did modeling (programmable Wang calculators and then on PC) of chemical atmospheric dispersion and Fischer-Tropsch catalysis--the later intended to improve the gasoline output from crude. During this time I continued to consider graduate school opportunities: I was offered the chance to do a PhD in Physics while working at Exxon.
By chance, this offer came about one month after I had been accepted to Law School as an evening student with the intention of becoming a patent lawyer or an environmental litigation, both of which would benefit from my scientific background. After two years of evening law school I changed my direction away from patents and transferred to Yale Law School to complete my legal education. Who knows what would have happened if I had instead followed the PhD route?
Graduating from Yale in '83, I joined a major NY law firm, and soon thereafter I started working on structured finance: an area of the law that required some mathematics, and the logic of science. I have practiced in that field ever since, moving to Standard & Poor's in '91 and becoming General Counsel in '99. I use my logic, scientific knowledge and problem solving skills everyday, even though I have forgotten the language of "Math" and "Physics". I still understand some of the financial modeling better than others and like my tangential work with financial modeling, stochastic equations and Merton models. But for my Differential Geometry or Quantum Mechanics: every time I look in the book, I am filled with regret that I have forgotten this ancient languages that I spoke so well at twenty.
Maybe it is fitting that, the student who almost gave Professor Mangelsdorf a heart attack (when she leaned too close to a high voltage tube in the basement of DuPont), and is in part responsible for significant re-decoration of the Physics labs for April Fool's Day in 1975, should end up solving word equations! - May 2005
Irving Dayton '48 (daytoni-at-peak.org)
I graduated from Swarthmore in 1948 and received my Ph.D from Cornell in experimental nuclear physics. For the next nine years my career proceeded in a fairly conventional fashion: two years on the Princeton faculty, three years in the steam-boiler industry (nuclear-powered steam boilers, that is) and then four years back at Swarthmore as Assistant Professor of Physics. I probably could have stayed at Swarthmore for the rest of my life, but fortunately other factors intervened and my career took a different, and for me a much more satisfying turn. I went to Montana State University as Professor and Head of the Physics Department. My charge was to overhall the undergraduate program, get faculty research going, and start a Ph.D program.
Basically, this is what happened, and after five years I was made Vice-President for Academic Affairs, a position which I held for ten years. During that time the University improved in quality and broadened its scope to include degree programs in the liberal arts. This was probably the most satisfying period in my professional life, and I felt that I was very productive, though I was not doing any physics.
The Board of Regents then asked me to come to the central office as chief academic officer for the Montana University System. (At that time Montana State got a new president--Bill Tietz, who had been a student at Swarthmore the same time I was, and had been Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Colorado State University.) After five years they made me Commissioner of Higher Education (Chancellor) of the Montana University System. This involved more politics than I was comfortable with, and after four years I spent a year as Acting President at Montana College of Mineral Science and Technology. Then, after twenty-five years as an administrator I retired, happy to leave all the unsolved problems to someone else.
My message to students is, if you think you might want to become a university administrator, DO NOT get a graduate degree in higher education administration or some such thing. Develop in your professional field, and take on more responsibility when the opportunity arises. You will find out if you have the talent and desire to be an administrator, and if you do, the jobs will start finding you. - April 2005
James Deane '90 (jrdeane-at-mac.com)
I'm happy to talk to future, current or graduated Swarthmoreans about what a physics degree can get you in several different arenas. I went to the University of Hawaii in 1990 in astrophysics, directly after matriculating from Swat. I got my PhD and did a post-doc (in London, UK), then decided to leave academia and went to business school (Cornell) to figure out what to do in the private sector. I therefore hold both a PhD and an MBA, which is nothing I considered while I was actually in grad school. After B-school I worked as a private consultant/contractor, first for a "distance learning" startup company in Ithaca and then for Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico. Since the fall of 2003 I've been at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, doing "technology transfer" & intellectual property management. We patent inventions that arise from university research, and then license them to companies who pay for the right to turn them into products. It's a blend of business, law and technology that I love, and never knew about while I was taking classes in DuPont! - April 2005
I think I have some interesting points of view on careers in and out of astrophysics, given where I've been. In any case, I've explored this issue a lot, i.e. technical backgrounds in non-academic fields, and am always happy to swap stories. - May 2003
Susana Deustua '83 (deustua-at-aas.org)
I attended Swarthmore College where I majored in Physics and minored in Astronomy and History, graduating with Honors. A PhD in Astronomy from the University of Michigan followed. I was a post-doc at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, then research scientist at the Space Sciences Laboratory at UC Berkeley. I taught at Case Western Reserve University in the Astronomy Department before joining the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Physics Division as a staff scientist where I worked with the Supernova Cosmology Project, led by Dr. Saul Perlmutter, which discovered the acceleration of the universe in 1998. I am currently the Director of Educational Activities of the American Astronomical Society, and Co-I of ComPADRE, a joint National Digital STEM Library project of the AAS, APS, AAPT and AIP. I am a member of the SNAP (SuperNova / Acceleration Probe) Collaboration where I lead the Calibration Group. SNAP is a proposed space experiment to investigate the nature of the dark energy which seemingly accelerates the expansion of the universe. - April 2005
James Dolan '02
finishing MA in medical physics, considering medical school, doing a PhD at Columbia University
Allyn Dullighan '01 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
studying astronomy and computer science at MIT - May 2003
Jonathan Dworkin '89 (jed2113-at-columbia.edu)
Stephen Eubank '79 (eubank-at-vt.edu)
I applied to grad schools in my senior year, got accepted but deferred for a year. I spent the year basically bumming around, and have never regretted it. I found in grad school that I didn't have as much background in details of specific models as people from more tech schools, but that wasn't a big problem. I recommend staying open to trying new things - I've met faculty on the verge of retiring who are still working on the same thing they did their dissertation on. I've moved from particle theory to fluid dynamics to chaos to natural language processing to computer simulation and am now in the middle of a detour into epidemiology. I've worked in small centers, government labs, and started up a company. I've been on the hiring side, and my tip is to work on things that interest you. If you're really lucky, you'll find your way to topics that interest many others as well. In addition to being more fun, it will enable you to make a much better presentation if you really care about what you're doing.
My "career" has been fun, although I have to be prepared to explain myself to people who question my depth. I regret that I haven't been in a position to have much impact on the way the world works. Don't overlook careers in policy or translating science to policy-makers. Not that all technical problems have technical solutions, but there are an enormous number of issues coming up that are best addressed by teams of people with a variety of backgrounds including science.
And as an advertisement, I have recently moved from Los Alamos to a small but very active group called the Simulation Science Lab in the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech, with an adjunct professorship in the Physics Dept. there. We are a group of mathematicians, computer scientists, economists, and physicists. We simulate the workings of large urban areas, transportation systems, telecommunications networks, commodity markets, and disease outbreaks. The March issue of Scientific American has an example of our work. I am always looking for summer undergraduate interns, graduate students (through Va Tech), or post-graduates. My world is a little hectic right now, since I'm in between New Mexico and Virginia, but feel free to get in touch with me. - April 2005
Andy Faber '67 (andrew.faber-at-gte.net)
So don't feel that you must be a physicist. There are many alternative careers that may prove equally satisfying without wasting your education. - April 2005
Sandy Faber (faber-at-ucolick.org)
Sandra Faber is University Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a staff member of the UCO/Lick Observatory. She is an observational astronomer with primary research interests in cosmology and galaxy formation. Some of her major discoveries include the first structural scaling law for galaxies, large-scale flow perturbations in the expansion of the Universe, black holes at the centers of galaxies, and the role of dark matter in galaxy formation. She was one of three astronomers who diagnosed the optical flaw in the Hubble Space Telescope, and she played a major role in its repair. She established the scientific case for the Keck Telescopes, which inspired the current wave of major ground-based telescope building all over the world. Since 1994 she has been Principal Investigator of the DEIMOS spectrograph, a large optical multi-object spectrograph for the Keck 2 Telescope. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and serves on the boards of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and Annual Reviews. - May 2003
Abram Falk '03 (falk-at-fas.harvard.edu)
summer 2003 research at CERN, then physics grad school at Harvard
Andrew Fefferman '03 (adf24-at-cornell.edu)
physics graduate school at Cornell, doing low-temperature physics research with Jeevak Parpia
I decided to come to Cornell because I was interested in low temperature physics. There were two colloquia at Swarthmore that got me interested in low temp: a talk by Bob Hallock on superfluidity and one be Kristine Lang on STM and high T_c superconductors. There is a description of my research at http://people.ccmr.cornell.edu/~andrew/. Any questions, feel free to send me an e-mail. - April 2005
Benjamin Felzer '87 (bfelzer-at-mbl.edu)
Following Swarthmore, I spent a year working for Computer Sciences Corporation at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center helping to track near earth satellites. Then I went to graduate school at the Geology Department of the University of Colorado-Boulder and received a Masters Degree using reflectance spectroscopy and remote sensing to study mineralogy. Next I went to the Geology Department at Brown University where I received a Ph.D. using climate system models to study paleoclimate issues related to the glacial/interglacial cycles. My postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO involved studying Arctic paleoclimates. I spent 2 years at NCAR as a Project Scientist helping to coordinate the use of climate scenarios for the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. Next I spent one year in Washington DC as a manager involved in funding hydrology research at NOAA's Office of Global Programs. Finally, for the past two years, I've been back in research as a research associate at the Ecosystems Center of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA. I am now using ecological and biogeochemical computer models to study how human disturbance and climate change are affecting the terrestrial carbon cycle.
I also have a www page at http://www.mbl.edu/eco42/Personnel/bfelzer/benindex.html that contains my complete CV (though I need to update it to include my current research).
I can help advise any students who are considering careers in the earth sciences, as well as those who might be interested in policy-oriented options. And if anyone is interested in questions related to global warming and climate change, please let me know. - April 2005
John Futterman '77 (futterman1-at-llnl.gov)
John Futterman is a physicist at the University of California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He has worked in underwater acoustics at the University of Texas at Austin's Applied Research Laboratory, in telecommunications systems engineering at AT&T Bell Laboratories, and in nuclear weapons design, counterproliferation systems, and (at present) in-situ sensing systems with his current employer. He recently led a Laboratory Directed Research and Development project in automated image understanding, and is currently proposing a project (in collaboration with faculty at UC San Diego) to develop quantum computing algorithms for searching large graphs. He got a PhD (1981) in for his work in General Relativity from the University of Texas at Austin. - May 2003
Cameron Geddes '97 (cgrgeddes-at-lbl.gov)
Cameron Geddes obtained a B.A. degree in physics from Swarthmore College in 1997 for work on spheromak plasmas. From 1997 through 1999 he was a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory working in the Nova laser plasma physics group. He received the M.A. degree in 2003, and Ph.D. in 2005, at the University of California Berkeley where he was supported by the Hertz fellowship. He is a physicist in the l'OASIS group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory working on laser driven particle accelerators. Research interests include intense laser interactions with plasmas, laser driven advanced particle accelerators and radiation sources, and fusion. External interests include rugby and sailing. Contacts always welcome from students, especially those considering UC, Hertz, the national labs, and plasma physics. More information: http://loasis.lbl.gov/, http://geddes.home.mindspring.com - April 2005.
Ben Geller '01 (bdavidgeller-at-yahoo.com)
masters program in Philosophy of Science at Columbia; Fulbright for CAS in theoretical physics at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge University; teaching physics at Columbia; physics PhD program in fall 2005
Joey Genereux '01 (joeygenereux-at-yahoo.com)
studied for physics degree at UCIrvine, computer science work, chemistry grad school at Caltech
Neil Gershenfeld (neilg-at-cba.mit.edu)
James B. Girton (girton-at-sigmaxi.org)
NOAA/UCAR C&GC Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Physical Oceanography,
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA 02543
I'm one of several recent Swarthmore physics graduates who decided to go to grad school in physical oceanography, and I've been quite happy with the results. It took me almost 8 years (at the University of Washington, Seattle) to finish the Ph.D., but in the process I wrote several grant proposals, went on a number of research cruises (everywhere from Iceland to Fiji), set up collaborations with researchers from several different countries, and essentially designed an entire field project for my dissertation work. I'm currently in the middle of a postdoc at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and applying for permanent jobs (mostly in "soft-money" research at university, government or private labs). Assuming that I do stick with my current plan to do observational physical oceanography, the number of job options is fairly limited (although so is the number of qualified applicants) but just about all of the institutions that I'm considering are in great locations and doing very interesting work. Oceanography and other earth sciences (including atmospheric science and geophysics) may not be the first things that phys/astro graduates think about as career pathways, but these fields contain (to my mind) some of the most fascinating and relevant areas of modern scientific research going on. And an undergraduate physics degree is really the best preparation for grad school in these areas.
Some places to get more info might be the American Geophysical Union (www.agu.org) and American Meteorological Society (www.ametsoc.org/AMS), as well as WHOI (www.whoi.edu) and other research institutions. Another thing Swat physics majors should consider early on is the possibility of summer internships to get a feel for research areas they might be interested in. I basically "discovered" oceanography through summer positions at Princeton (www.gfdl.noaa.gov) and University of Hawaii (www.soest.hawaii.edu) after my sophomore and junior years. These programs tend to come and go so you need to do a bit of searching to find out what's currently available (although I do know that WHOI has a summer undergraduate fellow program). - April 2003
Bill Goldstein '77 (goldstein3-at-llnl.gov)
He is the Associate Director for Physics and Advanced Technology at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. As an extremely successful alum with a broad perspective on science in the service of the national interest, he would be a prize person to invite back to Swarthmore to talk to the science majors about their careers. -John Futterman '77 - April 2003
John M. Goodman '60 (john-at-aGoodMan.com)
He went directly from Swarthmore (B.A. in Physics with High Honors) to graduate school at Cornell University, earning there a Ph.D. in Physics (major = Experimental Physics; minors in Theoretical Physics and the History of Science). He then got a teaching position at Harvey Mudd College followed by ones at the Joint Science Department of the Claremont Colleges and California Institute for the Arts. At that point he left academia (at the college level) and joined a team setting up an alternative public high school in Irvine, CA. After that he founded and, for five years, operated an interactive science museum, also in Irvine, CA. Concurrent with these activities, he has maintained a consulting practice with clients including _Scientific American_ magazine, Charles Eames design studio, and many others--mostly with smaller companies. He also taught seminars "on the road" on personal computer maintenance and upgrading for an educational training company, wrote grant proposals, and did a variety of design and writing projects. Another phase of his career included writing seven published "trade" books (i.e., ones sold at Barnes & Noble, and the like), most of which were considered "best sellers" in their genre. These books focused primarily on the technologies used in personal computers. At present, he is attempting to launch one or more new business(es) to exploit some of his inventions. In all of these activities he has found his Swarthmore physics training to have been an invaluable preparation. - April 2003
I am happy to speak with any students seeking advice about physics in their future after swarthmore. Please do not hesitate to contact me. - April 2005
Jessica Gorman (jgorman-at-sciserv.org)
Tim Gray '01 (tgray-at-princeton.edu)
After graduating from Swarthmore in '01, I went directly into the Plasma Physics program at Princeton University. I am currently doing my thesis research on the spherical torus CDX-U studying the effects of lithium-coated first walls. Students are more than welcome to email me if they have any questions.- April 2003
Carl Gwinn '82 (cgwinn-at-physics.ucsb.edu)
Gerrit Hall '04 (cuberhall-at-verizon.net)
Katherine Hall (Katherine.Hall-at-synarc.com)
Louis Hand '55 (hand-at-ccmr.cornell.edu)
After graduation from Swarthmore as a math major, with a physics minor, I went to Berkeley in mathematics. I quickly found that I had neither the interest nor the ability to do graduate work in math. (Too bad, because I had loved the subject at Swarthmore.) I transferred to Stanford as a grad student in physics. It seems my timing was pretty good, since things were just taking off at Stanford. I started as a theorist, but again found that the world needs only a handful of theoretical physicists, and that I was not one of them. So I went into experimental high energy physics (particle physics), where I prospered as Panofsky's graduate student, being left mostly alone to learn the subject from other grad students and postdocs.
I left Stanford with a Ph.D. in 1961. Jobs were, unlike now, easy to get. (My generation was born during the Depression at the bottom of the birth rate curve.)
I went to Harvard as a research fellow. By some miracle I ended up the next year as an instructor, which was the entry point on the academic ladder at that time. Right after I went to Harvard I made a visit to Cornell to see how Robert Wilson did his elastic electron scattering experiments, so met Wilson. That was important because, in 1963, two years later, I got a letter from Wilson offering me tenure and an associate professorship at Cornell. I turned it down, because I knew nothing about Cornell, and loved Cambridge and Harvard. I waited to see what Harvard would do. They promoted me to Assistant Professor, with consideration for tenure in 5 years. I decided that I had better reconsider Cornell, so I wrote to Wilson and asked if the job was still open. It was, and this time I accepted it, and went to Cornell in 1965. My teaching experience at Harvard was superb, however, and I hated to leave.
While at Harvard, the best idea I had was to conceive of looking at muon pairs produced by hadrons. At the very end just before I moved to Cornell, I was injured in a large liquid hydrogen bubble chamber explosion in the summer of 1965. It took quite a while before I recovered, including about three weeks in the Mass General Hospital.
Unfortunately, I knew very little about Cornell. Wilson himself was fading away after 20 years as Lab Director. (He became the founder of Fermilab.) After an unproductive four years at Cornell, in 1970 I decided to propose a Fermilab experiment for the new lab, then called the "National Accelerator Lab". (This was done while I was spending a semester on leave at Princeton.) I spent much time at NAL (near Chicago) during the 1970's. One year I served as head of the User's Executive Committee, which represents over 50 Universities in the US and Canada.
The experiment I proposed for Fermilab (NAL) took over five years to carry out. This is the other experiment I have invented of which I am inordinately proud! It was deep inelastic muon scattering to test the idea of scale invariance, an idea which led to the quark model. We discovered a scaling violation, nowdays understood as due to "asymptotic freedom", a consequence of quantum chromodynamics. (This was the subject of the 2004 Nobel Prize to the theorists who first understood it.) Doing that experiment was an incredible adventure, with highs and lows which I have no time to describe here. We were pioneers at Fermilab, along with some others. What an experience! I gave talks at several major international conferences.
I spent a one-year sabbabtical at Oxford in 1980-1981 on Guggenheim and SRC (British) Fellowships. In the 1980's I worked about half my time in Germany at the DESY lab near Hamburg, and later spent one semester at CERN during the turn-on period of LEP. Right now I fund my own research at Cornell and am a member of the Center for Materials Research, studying better ways of making superconducting accelerators.
In 1998, Cambridge University Press published a textbook on classical mechanics "Analytical Mechanics" which came out of the course on that subject I taught at Cornell for junior(honors) physics majors. I wrote this with Janet Finch. The book is still in print, and presently is being used at Cal Tech and Berkeley and several other places around the world.
The trend in high energy physics went towards very large groups out of necessity. Groups are now numbered in the hundreds, even thousands. Not my cup of tea!
Cornell is a good place, and is one of the best places to study and do physics. There is incredible diversity among the faculty and the students. I was glad I came here in the end, although I missed Harvard for a long time.
I started phased (half) retirement in 2003. Right now I teach in the Spring Semester in the Advanced Lab.
Regards to all Swarthmoreans. - April 2005
Robyn Harshaw '03 (robynh-at-gmail.com)
biochem/biophysics PhD student at University of Pennsylvania Medical School
Peter Hastings '01 (winslow-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
working in California for a video-game software design company - Spring 2003
Joan Hoffmann '98 (joaner-at-ccmr.cornell.edu)
PhD from UC Berkeley in Jan 2005, postdoc at Cornell, both with Seamus Davis
Chris Hohenemser '58 (chohenemser-at-clarku.edu)
After receiving a Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis I went on to teach at Brandeis University in Massachusetts from 1965 to 1971. After that i continued to teach physics at Clark University in Massachusetts. Overall I was principal adviser to 15 Ph.Ds. Nearly all of these of obtaining jobs or in Industries or universities, and all followed my advice not to work on classified research. I told them that that was equivalent of selling your soul to the devil.
In 1971 I was a co-founder Clark's inter disciplinary Environmental Science and Policy Program. This program had an undergraduate major, and it also had an M.A. program. Since 1971 this program has graduated over 200 undergraduate majors, as well as about 30 M.As. This success of the program dependent on collaboration between Scientists and Geographers. Fortunately Clark has an excellent geography department, several of whom have achieved election to the National Academy of Sciences. The program is in direct competition with programs at Duke, Carnegie-Mellon, and Harvard.
My work over the years has been in experimental physics on phase transitions, and allowed me to be recognized as an expert in that field. In my judgment my greatest achievement was the establishment of a Transition Year Program at Brandeis. Under this program inner-city kids with a poor educations were given an extra free year of pre-college training in preparation of their college career. If you write to Brandeis University and aske for its T Y P program, they will give you more information. Almost all the students in the program were poor blacks from the inner-city of Boston, and received a full year of pre- college preparation through the TYP.
Unfortunately at age 50, (1987), I was struck by MS and had a limit my teaching to occasional, individual students on the undergraduate level.
You should know of my address: 2178 Washington Street, Eugene OR, 97405. I can only meet with Swarthmore students at that address. Perhaps my most direct contribution to Swarthmore is a fact that the college would be well advised to adopt something like TYP. It's expensive, but well worth it. For a college as wealthy as Swarthmore this should be financially possible. - April 2005
John J. Hopfield '54 (hopfield-at-Princeton.edu)
I was Swat class of '54, majoring in physics. A wonderful department of four professors--Bill Elmore, Dennison Bancroft, Winthrop Wright, and Wayne Garrett, located in Trotter. I arrived thinking I might major in physics or chemistry, but had Elmore as frehman advisor. He looked at me, at the 3x5 card with my information on it, and remarked while crossing out a line on the card 'I don't think we need to consider chemistry'.
It has served me wonderfully. I began in the center of physics, and am now technically in the biology department at Princeton, doing theoretical research on the physics of how biology operates, particularly interested in the brain. I was always most intrigued by questions in science where the zero-order description of phenoma was not theoretically understood, and moved this interest from condensed matter to biology about 35 year ago. (Note that I am a living fossil, and therefore offer no advice to anyone. The first paper I wrote was closer in time to the Bohr atom than to my most recent paper.)
There is some more information on my career at the web site http://genomics.princeton.edu/hopfield/Biography.html
Out of date, of course. The recent unlisted detail I am happiest about is that, in spite of having wandered far from the center of physics, physics itself is broadening its scope. This is so much the case that I was recently elected the vice president of the American Physical Society, and will serve as president in 2006. - April 2005
Viva Horowitz '05 (viva-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
physics graduate school at UC Santa Barbara
Edward Hsu '89 (edhsu2000-at-yahoo.com)
physics PhD from Princeton in 1995
Ben Huff (bhuff-at-physics.ucsb.edu)
physics grad school at UC Santa Barbara
Milos Ilak '04 (milos.ilak-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
PhD program in engineering at Princeton
After having the luck not to get funded to work on space systems design at MIT, I joined Princeton's Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I realized that deep fundamental knowledge in at least one area is invaluable no matter what one chooses to do later, and Princeton is the place for that kind of education, although I plan to also do some practical work later in my career. I have started working with Prof. Rowley on modeling turbulent fluids from the point of view of dynamical systems, a direction of research which brings together fluid mechanics and some tools of applied mathematics that have only recently entered the fluids community. Swarthmore's Physics background has been very useful, as my department is much closer to physics than to engineering in terms of the depth of both the coursework and the research efforts (for example I will be examined on an advanced version of Physics 111 seminar for my general exam). I have been very happy with the academic environment, which to an extent is similar to Swarthmore's, unlike the other grad schools I considered. - April 2005
Akira Irae '03
Keith Jahoda (kjahoda-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
Mark Janoff '04 (mjanoff-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
Bruce Jenkins '75 (bruce.jenkins-at-hp.com)
- After Swarthmore, worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (Woods Hole, MA) for a year as a research assistant
- Went to Berkeley for grad school in physics; changed after one quarter to Electrical Engineering
- Got an MSEE from Berkeley in 1975
- Went to work for HP in 1975; I still work there. I worked for a while as an engineer, then as an engineering manager. Since then I have had a large variety of roles. I am currently a quality manager.
I would be happy to talk to Swarthmore undergraduates about my experiences and provide any guidance that I can. I can be reached via email at this address or on my cell phone at 760-419-0787. - May 2005
Patrick Johnson '89 (P.M.Johnson-at-phys.uu.nl)
Ornstein Lab, Soft Condensed Matter Group, Universiteit Utrecht
Princetonplein 5, 3584CC Utrecht, Holland
After Swarthmore, I spent several years doing a variety of things, including studying painting and teaching high school physics and chemistry. The high-school teaching re-sparked my interest in physics, so I went back to grad school for my PhD in physics. I was a post-doctoral fellow at Utrecht University in Holland doing work in colloids and optics, and now I am in Amsterdam. - Spring 2003
David Jones '93 (dj.at.yvr att gmail dotNOJUNKcom)
After Swat, I was fortunate enough to receive a Churchill scholarship and studied one year in Cambridge for an M.Phil (by research) in Engineering. I then went to MIT and received my PhD in Electrical Engineering in 1998. In hindsight, I would have taken off ~1 year off between Swat and grad school as I was completely burned out when I finished. Subsequently, I went to JILA in Boulder CO as a post-doc for two years and had an extremely rewarding time in and out of the lab. Joining the lemming telecom crowd of late 1990s-2000, I went to work for a startup. But then I quickly saw the writing on the wall and after 1 year returned to JILA as a research scientist on soft money. One of the biggest problems I found in industry was substantially amount of pressure placed on the integrity of research (and my work in particular). After another 2 years at JILA, I took a tenure track position as a physics professor at University of British Columbia. I consider the area where I live to be nearly tantamount to everything else, and my choices as a post-swat really enabled me to follow this path. I also consider myself very lucky to have been able to rejoin the academia path and end up as a professor. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me...and good luck! www.physics.ubc.ca/~djjones - May 2005
Danielle Keifert '04 (danielle-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
teaching middle school science at a private school in NYC - March 2005
Tom Kornack '98 (www-at-kornack.com)
I'm still at Princeton, trying to finsih my PhD before the end of the summer. My thesis will be a new lower limit on CPT symmetry violation using tabletop atomic physics. It turns out that my experiment is also the most sensitive magnetometer in the world (better than squids), is pretty good at measuring brain activity and is also a really good gyroscope! After graduation, I'll try to take a little bit of time off before getting married and then starting a post-doc to continue the work that I've been doing.
My best advice to folks thinking of physics graduate school is as follows: Think about what you really want to do; completing physics graduate school requires making some serious sacrifices in free time, self esteem, health, personal relationships and earnings. I think it's essential to deeply investigate alternative careers before graduate school. Prospective graduate students should know that research physics is nothing like problem sets: almost nothing has a concise, compact answer, there is no real deadline for your work (it can drag on) and it's rarely possible to just move on to the next thing. On the positive side, you get to work on very interesting stuff, graduate school is full of interesting people, and you get a serious feeling of accomplishment when you're done (if you liked that feeling after honors). And you can find very high performance stray kittens behind the Helium tanks. - April 2005
Roban Kramer '03 (roban-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
astrophysics graduate school at Columbia
Tom Kramer '65 (kramer-at-cme.nist.gov)
Jacob Krich '00 (jkrich-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
I graduated in 2000 and have been studying math at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship for the three years since. I finished my MMath (yes, an odd name for a degree) in June 2003 and started working on my PhD in condensed matter physics at Harvard in Fall 2003.
Anyone who has any questions about taking a detour is welcome to ask and I suppose I can also let people know what it's like to transition back to the physics world. - May 2003
Matt Landreman '03 (mlandre1-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
summer 2003 research at University of Minnesota, Rhodes scholarship physics research at Oxford, currently traveling in South Africa for March-May 2005
Lisa Larrimore '02 (larrimore-at-physics.cornell.edu)
summer 2002 at CERN, physics graduate school at Cornell University, nanotubes research with Paul McEuen, 2004 NSF graduate fellowship recipient, website: http://www.physics.cornell.edu/~larrimore/
Gene Leboy '57 (elleboy-at-sunline.net)
June 1957: AB (physics) Swarthmore College
Sept 1957 - Sept 1959: Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, Univ. of Penna., Phila., Pa., nuclear physics (no degree)
Sept 1959 - Jan 1969: Research Investigator, Dept of Physics, Univ. of Penna. High Energy nuclear physics. Scintillation detection, bubble chambers, design and construction of automated reduction equipment for bubble chamber photography and direction of group utilizing same, spark chambers, Cerenkov counters. Saxonburg (Univ of Pitt), Brookhaven, Berkeley, CERN, Argonne, Forrestal, Stanford.
Jan 1969 - Dec 1974: Scientific Director, Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI). Medical device evaluation. Hospital safety, effectiveness and efficiency evaluation.
Jan 1975 - Dec 1982: Director of Clinical Operations, Geometric Data Division, SmithKline Corporation. Complex automated hematology instrumentation product Quality Control and Quality Assurance. Hospital clinical trial design and implementation, statistical analysis, pattern recognition of disease related morphology in formed elements of the blood.
Dec 1982 - Jan 1984: Shipwright, Sailing Vessel Moshulu. Repair of rigging, decks, accommodation of 4,000 ton, 358-foot black iron, four masted barque built in 1931. In charge of crew carrying out restoration of vessel to original condition. (The Moshulu is now a restaurant docked in Philadelphia!)
Jan 1986 - Dec 1988: Consultant to President, Geometric Data Division, SmithKline Corporation. Development of new product concepts, design, FDA approval of new product additions and modifications.
Dec 1988 - Jan 1991: Vice President, Research and Planning, PhosphoEnergetics, Inc. High field magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy. Clinical trials of safety, effectiveness of MRI/Spectroscopy product.
Feb 1991 - Aug 13, 2004: Writer of fiction. Three publications. (Bipolar Expedition, ISBN 0-595-30495-8; Going Critical, Northern Breezes, July 2002, pg. 18; Open Channel, BoatU.S. Magazine, July 2002, pg. 13.) Purpose and theme is to teach The Scientific Method to the reader without his knowing that he is being so taught.
Aug 14, 2004 - Apr 2005: Dealing with results of Hurricane Charley - May 2005
Alfred Lee '84 (alleeiv-at-hotmail.com)
David N. Levin '64 (d-levin-at-uchicago.edu)
Professional life (or lives) since 1964: After graduating from Swarthmore, I received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Harvard and did research in the quantum field theory of elementary particles until 1977, when I entered medical school at the grand old age of 35. After receiving an M.D. and completing radiology residency at the University, I joined the faculty and eventually became a Professor of Radiology. For many years, I served as Director of MRI, splitting my time between clinical work and research in medical physics (3D brain imaging and computer-aided brain surgery). In 1999, I gave up my clinical practice in order to co-direct the University of Chicago's Brain Research Imaging Center, which specializes in the use of functional MRI to localize brain activity. Meanwhile, over the last several years, I became intensely interested in issues of human perception, and this led to the invention of a new approach to automatic speech recognition that utilizes some mathematical methods from my post-doc years in theoretical physics. So, now I have raised some "seed capital" to start a small company that will attempt to commercialize these ideas.
What have I learned from this checkered career? Well, although I have certainly had my share of disappointments, one thing that has not let me down is the science and technology itself. Nothing prepared me for the stunning beauty of the ideas of 20th century physics, and the rate of progress in science in general has exceeded my wildest expectations at graduation from Swarthmore. I also discovered the value of a broad graduate and post-graduate scientific education. Because of the proverbial vicissitudes of life, I ended up working in fields that I had never anticipated, and, in each case, graduate training in physics was very helpful. - April 2005
Eric Levy '04 (ericlevy-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
Bruce Lichtenstein '02 (brucel-at-mail.med.upenn.edu)
biochem/biophysics PhD student at University of Pennsylvania Medical School
Jairam Lingappa, MD PhD (jwl8-at-cdc.gov)
Bldg. 6 / Rm. 284
Respiratory and Enteric Viruses Branch, Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases
MS-A34, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30333
Tel - 404-639-2680, Fax - 404-639-4960/1307
- Spring 2003
Lauren Hopkins Lischer '98 (lauren.lischer-at-mac.com)
I went to work on Wall Street after graduation and spent 5 years at Merrill Lynch on the equity trading floor. - April 2005
Mike Loeb '03 (loebm-at-upstate.edu)
medical school at Syracuse
Slava Lukin '00 (vlukin-at-pppl.gov)
2002 NSF research fellowship recipient, plasma physics grad school at Princeton, doing theoretical plasma thesis research in T-15 at LANL.
After a year of unwinding / continuing research / private tutoring, I spent the first two years of my Princeton University physics PhD program at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, also in the company of Tim Gray'01. Having completed the required course load and having passed the quals, at that point I was free to choose a thesis advisor and a research topic. It so happened, that I ended up working on my PhD thesis as a graduate research assistant in the Plasma Theory Group at the Los Alamos Nat'l Lab, where I have been for the past two years. Contrary to popular beliefs, far from all work done at Los Alamos is military and/or secret. And about half of all post-docs working here are foreign nationals and do pure science.
I will be coming back to Princeton sometime in September of '05 to finish up my thesis, so if anyone has any questions about life there (or in Los Alamos), you are welcome to contact me by e-mail. - Spring 2005
Tim Malarkey '89 (tim-at-lbmllp.com)
Seth Major '91 (smajor-at-hamilton.edu)
I'm a theorist in quantum gravity. It is a backwater field with a vibrant community, a good deal of recent excitement, and little money. Small colleges are a nice setting for this kind of work since I am free to pursue my interests without being tied to recent fads in physics. I've been a teacher and researcher at Hamilton College for five years with brief stints at the Perimeter Institute in Canada. Since I fell in love with general relativity at Swarthmore (thanks to John B!) I went to Syracuse, followed my advisor to PennState, and finished in 1997. After teaching at Deep Springs College (micro and amazing) for a semester I did a postdoc at the University of Vienna, Austria. It was then back to Swarthmore for an all too brief year before coming to Hamilton. I have had strong support for research here - additional leave time and a postdoc - although the teaching load is significant. Nonetheless its been a hoot working with undergrads on quantum gravity. (See my web page and Michael Seifert and Kevin Setter on this page.) I'm happy to chat about physics theory or this version of the academic route. Despite all the warnings along the way and the grad school grind, my experience in physics has been rich, unexpected, and deeply rewarding. - May 2005
Ben Mates '04 (John.Mates-at-colorado.edu)
grad school at Colorado
John Mather '68 (John.C.Mather-at-nasa.gov)
I've been a member of the Employment committee of the AAS, so we encourage students of all generations to come to the meetings and learn things from career workshops that we arrange. See www.aas.org for the meeting calendars and links to the job register, etc., and www.aas.org/comms/employ.html for the Employment committee. One of the concerns I have had as an observer of the training of students is that most schools don't have many faculty with experience outside academia, and hence the curricula are pretty strongly oriented towards preparing for more academic positions. Needless to say, not all those who want such jobs will find them. I strongly encourage students to learn about the commercial and government worlds and to ensure that they have more skills than those required for writing professional astronomy papers. These include team leadership, project management, budgeting, scheduling, public speaking, entrepreneurial skills, government policy, etc., along with the more obvious and now commonplace computer skills. Astronomers have ended up in a tremendous range of positions, from stock analysts to petroleum prospectors. And, at long last, there are a couple of physicists in the Congress and Senate (Vern Ehlers and Rush Holt).
There's also an amazing site discussing job rumors: meltingpot.fortunecity.com/enfield/207/ that is done anonymously. For Swarthmore students it's probably more important to read some of the excellent books on life as a professional scientist. Physics Today reviews these from time to time. The Physics Today web site at www.physicstoday.org leads to aip.jobcontrolcenter.com with a link to a book by John Rigden called Landing Your First Job.
I'd be happy to talk by phone and email with interested students.
Allen McBride '03 (amcbride-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
I'm in Oak Ridge now, working as an intern at ORNL. I'm going to become an ecology student at Duke soon, but I can't say exactly when. - July 2004
Robert McFarland '02 (robertnm-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
I am currently in physics grad school at the University of Maryland College Park where I am doing experimental research in silicon-based quantum computing. This semester I have also been getting involved with the philosophy of physics program here. - Spring 2003
Andrew Meade '03 (ameade1-at-swarthmore.edu)
I was a student teacher in Fall 2003 at Friend's Select in Philadelphia. I'm planning on teaching high school physics and or science at least for a few years. I'm interested in alternative high/middle school programs which engage students in the design process and hypothesis constructing and testing. I think that good teachers are in wide demand and there is a shortage of science teachers, so I feel like it's a place I can really contribute. - Spring 2003
Genevieve de Messiers '04 (genevieve-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
PhD program in astrophysics at University of Virginia
Chris Miller (cmiller-at-brandeis.edu)
Professor of biochemistry and HHMI investigator at Brandeis University. Always willing to answer questions that Biochem-directed students might have. Please see: hhmi.org - May 2005
Matt Miller '04 (mmiller1-at-gmail.com)
2004-5 Fulbright in Iceland 2004-2005
I began my senior year at Swarthmore not knowing what I would do the next year. I thought graduate school was somewhere in my future, but it definitely didn't appear to be thing I would do right after graduation. In fact, I wasn't even sure what I would study in grad school. Would it be physics, astrophysics, or planetary science? And what kind of research would I pursue? Certainly, during the summer between my junior and senior year I had given much thought to these questions, and, in some cases, I came up with some answers. I knew I wanted to explore the earth sciences more and conduct astronomy research in fields in which I had no experience. Grad school did not seem like the right place to do this exploration, so I looked into various fellowship programs and decided that a Fulbright to Iceland would be a good place to start to think about my future career in science.
On the whole, my Fulbright was an excellent science and cultural experience. During my time in Iceland, I had the opportunity to take classes in geophysics, glaciology, volcanology, and various other earth science subjects that I never had the time to explore at Swarthmore. I also had the time to be involved in some interesting research projects, like mapping earthquake fractures and measuring the gravity anomaly of a volcano. Furthermore, I was able to match my physics and astronomy training at Swarthmore with some new earth science topics by turning a few class assignments towards my own interests, such as volcanoes on Io and glaciers on Mars. Personally, I often found the rigorous physics curriculum at Swarthmore a little stifling at times, and, for me, the Fulbright was the chance to finally pursue these extra academic interests. It was also a chance to live abroad for the first time. (I also didn't think I had time for a foreign exchange program while I was at Swarthmore.)
As a Fulbrighter, you should expect freedom and flexibility to pursue the goals you present in your grant proposal. Once you receive your grant, no one will be checking to make sure you do everything you said you would do in your grant proposal, but you are expected to be responsible and productive with your grant. In each host country, there is a Fulbright office that is there to help you achieve your project goals in any way possible. In Iceland, the Fulbright Commission organized cultural events and dinners in addition to helping grantees with basic things like registering for classes and finding the cheapest grocery store. That said, there isn't too much pressure to work on your project all the time. After all, the heart of the Fulbright mission is cultural exchange, and you should feel like you have plenty of time to engage in cultural activities, make friends, and travel around your host country.
Because a large part of your Fulbright experience will be cultural exchange, you should be prepared to be a cultural ambassador for the United States. Sometimes this part of the exchange is fun, mostly because you get to be the intelligent, well-spoken, and passionate American some foreigners don't know exist. At other times, dealing with an overbearing image of America and Americans is difficult and frustrating. I particularly enjoyed being abroad during a hotly contested U.S. presidential election. Icelanders are especially interested in American politics and culture, and this was even more evident in the weeks coming up to the election. For a good two/three weeks before the election, any Icelander (grocery store clerks, bartenders, hairdressers, professors, etc.) who suspected that I might be an American asked me who I was voting for, who I thought would win, and what I thought would happen if Bush or Kerry won.
Overall, I really enjoyed my Fulbright experience in Iceland. I ate the best salmon in the world at least twice a week, went hiking on glaciers and volcanoes, met lots of interesting people, and had the time to think about and do some interesting science. If you are thinking about applying for a Fulbright Grant, be aware that a successful application may take months of work. Therefore, I recommend you start the application process early, preferably during the summer before your senior year at Swarthmore (if you plan to do a Fulbright directly after graduation). If you're planning a research-oriented Fulbright object, there are some extra things you might have to do to make your application successful. For instance, you might need to contact researchers abroad, ask them if they're interested in pursuing research with you, and then later obtain a letter from the researchers abroad confirming that you will be working with them. In any case, start thinking about the Fulbright early, come up with an interesting but feasible project, and then go talk to the chairperson of the Fellowships & Prizes Committee at Swarthmore. He or she will have lots to say about your project and will do everything possible to help you create a successful application. - April 2005
Thalia Mills '00 (ttm9-at-cornell.edu)
physical chemistry research for physics graduate study at Cornell
Morgan W. Mitchell '90 (mwmitchell2-at-hotmail.com)
Swat, class of '90. After graduation, took a year off, working as a programmer in an engineering company. Then I did a long Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, 1991-1999. Post-doc for one year at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris 1999-2000. Two years as a visiting assistant professor at Reed College, 2000-2002. Two years, one as post-doc and one as Research Associate, at the University of Toronto 2002-2004. I have recently started as a research professor at the Institut de Ciencies Fotoniques in Barcelona, Spain. All that time I have been doing experimental quantum optics, atom trapping and cooling, quantum information, things like that. I still have a binder labelled "Quantum Reality" from John Boccio's quantum mechanics class. - April 2005
Jim Moskowitz '88 (jim-at-jimmosk.com)
I'm an astrophysics major from the class of '88. After Swat I spent 14 years working at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, working on various forms of informal science education, from performing science shows to making a Materials Science activity station that's being used at museums across the country. I left that job in 2003 and use a completely different part of my brain right now, running an ebay business from home selling obscure classical CDs. - April 2005
Melaku Muluneh '03 (melmul-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
physics research at Caltech 2003-5, starting physics graduate school at Harvard in Fall 2005
Robert N. Oerter '83 (roerter-at-gmu.edu)
I got my Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1989, studying supersymmetric particle theories. After two years on a postdoc in Italy, during which time I ate a lot of good food but didn't get much physics done, I found myself jobless and returned to the DC area. I taught at Howard University for a while, filling in for folks who were on sabbatical. In the meantime I was doing research with the chaos group at Maryland. This led to a job at the Naval Research Lab doing underwater acoustics. Finally, I got a teaching position at George Mason University, where I have been since 1997. I have written a book, The Theory of Almost Everything, which is an introduction to the Standard Model of Elementary Particles. It will be published in August 2005. - May 2005
Marjorie Olmstead '79 (olmstd-at-u.washington.edu)
From Swarthmore I went to graduate school at UC Berkeley (MA '82, Ph.D. '85), where I did my thesis on the way in which atoms rearrange on the surface of silicon when a crystal is broken in half. I then spent about 20 months at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, where I began to study the formation of interfaces between dissimilar materials, a subject on which I am still working. I joined the physics faculty at UC Berkeley in '86, but then moved to the University of Washington in Seattle when they hired both myself in physics and my (then future) husband in Zoology. My research is still focussed on the balance between kinetics and thermodynamics on the atomic scale when depositing one material on another, and the properties of the resultant nanostructures.
Last year, I became the director of UW's Nanotechnology Ph.D. Program, whereby students in any of 10 participating departments can get a Ph.D. in "home department" and Nanotechnology by fulfilling extra interdisciplinary requirements. I teach at all levels -- from introductory mechanics to graduate courses in semiconductor physics -- and have undergraduates, masters and PhD level students in my lab group. I have also developed a course jointly with a colleague in women studies on issues for minorities and women in science and engineering. We have two charming, intelligent children (born in '95 and '97). - April 2005
Nano PhD: http://www.nano.washington.edu/education/index.html
Neil Ottenstein '84 (otten-at-toad.net)
I went to the University of Maryland at College Park and got a PhD in 1990 in Theoretical Nuclear Physics. I then got a job with Computer Sciences Corporation - a contractor to NASA at Goddard Space Flight Center. Last year I started working with a.i. solutions: http://www.ai-solutions.com/. They took over the contract that CSC previously had at GSFC. I have been mostly doing flight dynamics, though I have also done some systems engineering for the science side of Landsat 7 mission.
On my web page http://www.toad.net/~otten/, I have a link to some of the various missions I have worked on. - April 2005
Nick Ouellette '02 (nto2-at-cornell.edu)
After graduating from Swarthmore double majoring in physics and computer science, I went directly to Cornell for graduate work. After initially thinking I wanted to do condensed matter theory, I eventually wound up working with Eberhard Bodenschatz studying hydrodynamic turbulence both in simple and complex fluids. Using ultrafast cameras, we have designed the first high Reynolds number Lagrangian particle tracking experiment. We're producing the first experimental tests of theories posed sixty years ago. At present, I'm interested in the so-called statistical geometry of turbulence and the coarse-grained dynamics of multipoint correlations, as well as more generally the visualization and analysis of huge 3D data sets.
Not having ever done any fluid dynamics before my second year of graduate school, I'm finding it very exciting to jump headlong into a new field, especially since fluid dynamics has recently experienced a renaissance in the physics community after being purely an engineering field for so long. My advice to graduating physics majors would be really to explore your options -- there are certainly lots of fields you don't know anything about but that are really fascinating! - April 2005
Lewis Pyenson '69 (loup-at-louisiana.edu)
Research Professor, Center for Louisiana Studies, University of Louisiana at Lafayette - April 2005
Laura Pomerance '00 (laurapomerance-at-hotmail.com)
In June I'll begin a new job in the Science, Technology and Congress department of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. After Swarthmore, I taught middle-school science for a couple of years before volunteering for my Congressman's campaign showed me that I wanted to work in politics. For the past three years, I have worked as the legislative assistant to a member of the Maryland legislature, as a staff assistant for a California Congressman, as a reporter for a science newsletter and as a field organizer in Iowa for the Kerry-Edwards campaign. - May 2005
Fran Poodry '92 (fpoodry-at-speakeasy.net)
I graduated in '92, and was a substitute teacher until being hired both by the School District of Philadelphia and a private orthodox Jewish school. I've been teaching high school physics ever since, meandering from Philly to south Jersey and back to PA.
Somewhere along the way I managed to pick up an MSEd degree from Temple U. I now teach in West Chester, PA at the high school level, and I teach introductory physics labs some evenings at St. Joes, in Philly. While I have toyed with the idea of going to grad school for a PhD in Physics Education Research, I never actually get around to doing it. It's still an interest of mine, however, and I can tell you where the good PER graduate programs are and who to talk to. - April 2005
Amy Reighard '01 (areighar-at-umich.edu)
Currently, I am a physics graduate student at the University of Michigan, studying high energy density laboratory astrophysics with Dr. Paul Drake. My experiments involve radiative shocks passing through a collapsed layer of material. We recently diagnosed the first radiatively collapsed layer ever for this kind of experiment, and are moving to study the instabilities the shock may excite in the dense layer. This work should help us understand the structure and dynamics of supernova remnants. I do my experiments on the Omega Laser at the University of Rochester, with collaborators from Lawerence Livermore National Labs.
The only other thing I have done since graduating other than graduate school related research and course work was an interesting summer job: after graduating and before moving to Michigan I spent a summer working as a laborer for an excavating company. For ten hours a day, I laid sod, dug ditches, ran a rolling machine, installed water service, and other things that physicists don't generally do. I highly recommend it. - Spring 2003
Jerry Ravetz (jerry_ravetz-at-lineone.net)
I came to England in 1950, did Pure Mathematics and then soon switched to History & Philosophy of Science and eventually Science Studies.
I now have a rather shadowy academic existence as a retiree of long standing. But I'd be pleased to talk to anyone contemplating grad work over here in that direction. - April 2005
Casey Reed '05 (casey.reed-at-gmail.com)
Next year I will be teaching high school physics and astronomy and coaching cross country at Saddle River Day School in Saddle River, NJ. I found this job through Educational Resources Group, an organization that works with independent schools and with candidates searching for teaching positions. I have been interested in teaching for a while now because I really like mentoring and working with people -- in my time at swat I took several education and psych courses. - May 2005
Mark Romanowsky '03 (romanows-at-fas.harvard.edu)
physics grad school at Harvard, 2005 NDSEG fellowship winner
I'm now in the research group of Federico Capasso in the applied physics department at Harvard. He's got a lot of really interesting projects going on (as well as one or two that I never have understood at all!). My project is to investigate the Casimir force between various materials, in particular trying to find a way to make the strength of the force change due to phase transitions in the materials or other reversible changes. Unfortunately, it isn't going to really get off the ground for about another month because I have to use a high-demand, super fancy AFM, and that is when my allotted time starts. In the meantime, I'm learning some microfabrication techniques for MEMS, and I've recently started kicking around some ideas concerning surface plasmons.
I'm willing to share my thoughts on grad school with any interested undergrads. - April 2005
Lizzie Rothwell '02 (lizzie-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
teaching in Jordan - Spring 2003
Rachel Sapiro '04 (resapiro-at-umich.edu)
I'm currently studying physics at the University of Michigan, with a two-year fellowship awarded by FOCUS (an NSF foundation for research in atomic/molecular/optical physics). I'm in Georg Raithel's research group, working on his optical lattice experiment, which we are turning into an optical lattice/Bose-Einstein condenstate experiment. Some of his other experiments involve Rydberg atom trapping for quantum computing, and trying to make a continuous stream of BEC (basically, a laser but with atoms instead of photons). - April 2005
Ted Schadler '81 (tschadler-at-forrester.com)
Physics: A convoluted path that included professional musician, masters in computer science, software developer, entrepreneur, business school, and software industry analyst has led Ted to his current position as a Principal Analyst for Forrester Research, Inc. in Cambridge, MA. Ted analyzes consumer technology markets and the music industry to advises executives serving those industries on marketing strategy. - April 2005
Colin Schatz (cschatz-at-holton-arms.edu)
Holton Arms School
Alison Schirmer (aschirmer-at-westminster-school.org)
David Schlossberg '01 (daves-at-tophat.gsfc.nasa.gov)
I graduated from Swarthmore in the spring of '01, with an honors major in physics and a minor in engineering. After 17 years of continuous schooling, I decided I needed a short break before thinking about grad school. Through a physics department alumni connection (thanks, Joel Offenberg!), I landed a job at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center testing optical detectors for a new Hubble Space Telescope instrument. Recently, I have been accepted to several graduate programs and am now considering which program best suits my interests. - Spring 2003
Sam Schulhofer-Wohl '98 (sschulh1-at-gmail.com)
I am working on a Ph.D. in economics at the University of Chicago. Between Swarthmore and graduate school, I worked for five years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor in Illinois, Alabama and Wisconsin. - April 2005
Julie (Schwendiman) Crockett '97 see Julie Crockett
Michael Seifert '01 (seifert-at-uchicago.edu)
I'm pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, studying general relativity with Robert Wald. My projects have included examining the stress-energy of quantum fields in curved spacetimes as a possible source of dark matter; attempting to define asymptotic properties of Kaluza-Klein-type spacetimes; and a study of star-like solutions in higher-order gravity theories. I'm currently in my final year of an NSF graduate fellowship. - April 2005
Richard Setlow '41 (setlow-at-bnl.gov)
I received a B.A. in Physics in 1941, with minors in Math. and Chem. I applied and was admitted as a Graduate Student to the Yale Physics Department. I was supported by various stipends and during World War II became a teaching assistant and then an Instructor in Physics, teaching elementary laboratories and courses, and doing research in UV Spectroscopy. I received a Ph.D in 1947 and became an assistant Professor and taught more advanced courses and a graduate course in Spectroscopy. I became interested in the field of Biophysics and joined a Biophysics group in the Physics Dept. That group became a Department and I became an Associate Prof. in both Physics and in Biophysics- -doing lots of research on the effects of UV on biological systems. My Swarthmore and Yale backgrounds made me expert in many fields. An interested reader could follow my academic and research progress in an article in Mutation Research, vol.511 (2002), pages 1-14 entitled "Shedding light on proteins, nucleic acids, cells, humans and fish". I was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1973.
Two of my children were graduated from Swarthmore, and 2 grandchildren (Cortland Setlow and Sally O'Brien) are now attending the college. - April 2005
Kevin Setter '02 (kevinsetter-at-yahoo.com)
Part III Mathematical Tripos at Cambridge, Jack Kent Cook scholarship recipient, grad school in theoretical physics at Caltech
Craig Shockley (craigshockley-at-yahoo.com)
I am currently serving with Peace Corps in Benin. It's an Information and Communication Technology kind of post. I taught high school physics for four years before coming here. - April 2005
Larry Smith '68 (write to robinleslie-at-alum.swarthmore.edu for e-mail contact info)
Forrest Gump was right . . . you never know what you'll find next. Went on to U of Wisconsin Graduate School, still in physics. Got draft notice, and had to leave after an MA. Joined U.S. Navy, and spent 2-1/2 years in Albuquerque, New Mexico! Have done almost no physics since then. Found myself getting into large-scale analysis & planning -- operational testing for U.S. Air Force acquisitions, radioactive waste management, weapons system program management, site decommissioning and environmental remediation, large-scale project management. Semi-retired now, working part time. - April 2005
Robin Smith '03 (robinleslie-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
summer 2003 research at CERN, Fulbright quantum optics research at ENS Cachan, France 2003-4 (see website); Summer 2004 research at LANL, theoretical physics study at Cambridge, summer 2005 research at ATT, starting physics graduate school at Cornell in fall 2005
John Taber (taber-at-iris.edu)
I took a geophysics course at Bryn Mawr my senior year at Swarthmore, and that convinced me to go on to the University of Washington where I got a PhD in seismology. From there I went to Columbia University (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory) where my research area was earthquake monitoring in the Aleutian Islands, Alaska. I then spent 12 years in New Zealand, where I focused on seismic hazards and became more and more involved in science education and realized my passion is education, not research. That led to my current position in Washington, DC managing the Education and Outreach Program for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS). We provide seismology-related educational resources for all levels, ranging from middle school, to university and the general public (http://www.iris.edu/about/ENO/).
I'd be interested in acting as a mentor, particularly for students who aren't sure if a research career is right for them. - April 2005
Walter Taylor '62 (wtaylor-at-euclid.Colorado.edu)
I was indeed a physics major at Swarthmore (but we didn't have astro-physics then, so I don't know about that). Toward the end I was leaning more toward mathematics, and I think had enough work in mathematics that I could just as well have been a math major. In any case, I continued on in mathematics, leaving physics behind (with some regret) after graduation. In fact, by two or three years after graduation, it was clear that I was migrating into areas of mathematics that are (so far as we know today) quite far from physics. Nowadays, I can't really say I know much about physics.
If there is someone near me in Colorado who wants to talk things over about math, I would of course be glad to help. - April 2005
Chaz Teplin '96 (Charles_Teplin-at-NREL.gov)
graduate school at University of Chicago, now at University of Colorado at Boulder, see http://www.Spot.colorado.edu/~teplin - May 2005
Shiva Thiagarajan '05 (shiva-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
I'm going to be working for a business strategy consulting firm, Kaiser Associates, in Washington, DC. I don't think I ever intended my Swat physics major to take me further into physics; I chose it because physics is fun, and, I hate to admit, I've always wanted to do something that would make me alot of money. I think physics gives me skills (like problem solving, analytic thinking, and whatnot) that would help me do that. For others thinking about physics as a doorway to the business world, I'd congratulate them on a wise choice (but would tell them to take a couple economics/finance classes too), and advise them to really talk up the physics major and the work it entails with prospective employers. Also, feel free to email me. - May 2005
Stephanie Tonnesen '03 (skt2105-at-columbia.edu)
taught physics and astronomy in Hong Kong for 2003-4 before astrophysics grad school at Columbia. People can email me with questions.
Search Associates: I lucked out getting a job teaching physics and astro, but there are tons of math opportunities available. and you get to travel, and you get to practice interviews. For me, anyway, it was absolutely the right thing to do.
Search Associates comes every year to recruit at Swat. The guy's name is (or at least was) John Fry. As long as they keep their ears open in the fall they will hear about info meetings with Search Associates. They are really easy to work with. You decide that you want to teach abroad. With just a bachelors you are mostly stuck with internships, which mean less money, but a few people got teaching positions. internships are one year, teaching are two.
anyway, once you decide that you want to do this, you sned in your resume, but you also write john fry a more personal email about yourself, with anecdotes, etc. he describes it well. if they think you have a good shot of getting an offer, he tells you so (some people were turned down) and then you pay 100 dollars to go to this huge international job fair. there you just try and get tons of interviews. but be careful! when i went, i was dumb and so didnt read about the first school i interviewed with (it was also early in the morning, so i have some excuse) and then when he said why do you want to come to hong kong i had no answer. doh! i ended up going there, but only because their number one choice turned them down (Sara Cole). once you are offered, _and_ accept a job, then you need to pay another 200 dollars. they are pretty lenient about this.
as far as the deals you may get, i got two offers. In Casablanca I was offered a two-way plane ticket, a room in a two person apartment, free bus to work, free lunch, and 7,000 USD--although only some in US money and I would have had to figure out how to change the rest through underground channels because of certain laws there. although apparently it was frequently done.
In Hong Kong I was offered a two-way ticket, room in a two person apartment (although another intern got her own apartment I was happier with a roomate), and 20,000 USD. apparently this is about the best offer you can expect for an internship.
I went to Hong Kong, made some friends (one of whom I keep in touch with) traveled a bunch (although not as much as I shoudl have), learned that I really do enjoy teaching although it frustrates the hell out of me, and also learned that I do not want to live my whole life abroad. All in all, good for a year. Oh, and most of the interns were offered a second year of internship at my school.
I managed to convince one of the other interns to go on a few trips with me--we had such a great time. - April 2005
Valerie Thomas (valerie.thomas-at-wap.org)
This year I am working in Congress, as a Congressional Science Fellow sponsored by the American Physical Society, and that I am working for Representative Rush Holt, who was one of my physics professors at Swarthmore. Next year I'll be joining the faculty at Georgia Tech, in the School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, with a joint appointment in Public Policy.
After graduate school, I worked on nuclear arms control issues for a number of years, and then on environmental issues, mostly at Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies. For a long time I didn't use much physics, doing work that was mainly policy analysis. Now I am increasingly drawing on my physics heritage, while still working on policy problems.
I was, basically, miserable in graduate school; I did my Ph.D. work in high energy theory. But I am very glad I did it, and I would, I think, do it again if given the opportunity. (And, of course, I would do a much better job the second time around. Hans Bethe, Nobel prize winner and head of the theory division in the Manhattan Project, apprenticed himself to a string theorist at the age of something like 80. I might be tempted to do something similar.)
Making headway in academia has been hard, perhaps especially because I am doing soft, non-disciplinary, technology policy work. Being a woman probably makes it harder too. But there have been enough opportunities for me to keep going, sometimes just barely, and I've been able to work on great topics with great people. This kind of path is probably harder than a more standard career, but in the longer run very satisfying.
Please extend my regards to John Boccio if you see him. - April 2005
Eric Usadi (Eric.Usadi-at-npl.co.uk)
- studied violin & freelanced in New York for 1 year
- grad school at Columbia
- postdocs at Open University (UK) and Cambridge University
- optical physicist at The National Physical Laboratory (UK)
I'm happy to be contacted, particularly by anyone not sure about whether to go to grad school, a position I found myself in during the year following graduation. - April 2005
David Vanderbilt (dhv-at-physics.rutgers.edu)
Professor of Physics at Rutgers: http://www.physics.rutgers.edu/~dhv - April 2005
Karli Watson (karli-at-its.caltech.edu),
Rabi Whitaker '03 (rabi-at-sccs.swarthmore.edu)
teaching science in NYC, astronomy research
Ursula Whitcher '03 (ursula at math dot washington dot edu)
I majored in math with minors in Latin and physics. I'm currently in a math Ph.D. program at the University of Washington. I'd like to work somewhere along the interface of geometry and topology. Many interesting geometric-topological questions come from areas of physics such as string theory and general relativity. - April 2005
Jason Wiggins '04 (martianspacer-at-yahoo.com)
physics graduate student at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - September 2004
Albert J. Williams 3rd (Sandy) '62 (awilliams-at-whoi.edu)
I straddled the Engineering/Physics fence my Freshman year at Swarthmore but when I found that I could take the electronics courses in Engineering without committing to Engineering as a major, I became a Physics major permitting me to take all the physics offered, plus chemistry, and more liberal arts courses than would have been possible as an Engineering major. Graduating in 1962, I went on to Johns Hopkins in Physics where I became a spectroscopist under the tutelage of Bill Fastie and John Doering, the former a giant without degree (of any kind) and the later a Professor of Chemistry (upper atmospheric chemical physics to be specific) and I built an electron spectrometer to study the optically forbidden transitions that are excited by solar wind electrons to make auroras. I loved instrumentation, both optical and electronic, but had little enthusiasm for quantum mechanics, and since physics in the late 20th century was no longer classical, I sought an offshoot where classical physics was still valued. Oceanography was taught at JHU and I was enthusiastic about boats, if not yet the sea, so I snuck off and took a course in Wind Waves and backed it up with Introductory Fluid Mechanics. Fastie found out and made me drop Wind Waves at the end of the semester but let me finish Fluid Mechanics, in hindsight possibly the most relevant course I took.
JHU offered me a position in the Oceanography Department to measure waves and currents after my graduation in 1969 but encouraged me to try for a Post Doctoral appointment at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. WHOI took me on, in the Ocean Engineering Department, where I built instruments to measure optical microstructure from double diffusive mixing, breaking internal wave turbulence, bottom boundary layer stress to erode sediment, and upper boundary layer stress associated with air-sea interaction. In my department, more scientists and engineers were trained in physics than in engineering in the 1970's and 1980s as contrasted with Physical Oceanography where many were trained in Mechanical Engineering (where they still teach fluids). Three years ago I retired, after working my way up the ranks to Senior Scientist and being chair of the department for five years. NSF had become tired of my suggestions that we could better understand deep-sea sediment transport by instrumenting the bottom with large arrays of expendable current meters that measured stress so I stopped asking and now work on the current measurement technology about half of my time, the rest doing reviews, serving on committees, and mentoring junior colleagues. After retirement, it is all fun. - May 2005
Luke Wolcott '04 (terekitadha-at-hotmail.com)
After graduation I finished hiking the Appalachian Trail. Then I did some construction work and volunteered for the democratic cause. Next I spent four months in India and five weeks in New Zealand. Now I'm sailing to Japan, via Samoa and Guam. From there I'll travel through China, Tibet, and Nepal, back to India - where I'll stay until I'm broke. Then I'll enroll in the PhD math program at University of Washington, Seattle, in fall 2006. - April 2005
H. John Wood '60 (howard.j.wood-at-nasa.gov)
Dr. H. John Wood is an astronomer and serves as an optical engineer for the Optics Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Since June 1990, he has been Optics Lead Engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) Project. He led the team that successfully determined the optical prescription of HST while on orbit. He then led NASA's effort to develop and test the corrective optics for HST. In addition to his work on Hubble, he currently serves as Science Liaison in the Instrument Synthesis & Analysis Laboratory for new Earth Science and Space Science instrument engineering design at Goddard.
A graduate of Swarthmore College, Dr. Wood earned the M.A. and Ph.D. in Astronomy from Indiana University. He has been at Goddard Space Flight Center for 20 years. In addition to the Hubble Project, he has been Lead Optical Engineer on other Goddard projects: the Mars Observer Laser Altimeter and the Diffuse Infrared Background Experiment aboard the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). Earlier he was assistant to the director at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (Chile) for two years. He held a Fulbright Research Fellowship for two years at the University Observatory in Vienna, Austria. He also served five years as a staff astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Chile. His career began with six years on the astronomy faculty of the University of Virginia at Charlottesville.
Winner of the 1992 NASA exceptional service medal and the 1994 NASA exceptional achievement medal for his work on COBE and HST, he is the author of 50 research papers in astronomy and space optics. He was invited by the Optical Society of America to edit special editions of Applied Optics and Optics and Photonics News on the HST first servicing mission. He was co-chair of the HST Independent Optical Review Panel that was charged with the determination of the optical parameters for the HST while on orbit.
I would be glad to answer any questions from physics/astronomy majors. - April 2005
Michael Wood '80 (Michael_wood-at-alum.swarthmore.edu)
After graduating with honors, I attended the University of Illinois for 1 year and then transferred to the University of Pennsylvania. Illinois at that time was only interested in using students for teaching assistants before rejecting 2/3. It was a really competative environment which I did not appreciate. At the University of Pennsylvania I passed the prelim exams, but ultlimately decided that I did not want to go into academia, so I finished an MS and went to work for IBM in studing reliability of semiconductors. After more than 10 years I switched careers within IBM and I am now involved in the design of microprocessors. I have worked on both the power pc and s/390 microprocessors. I am currently the electrical lead designer for an advanced core to be used in computers several years from now. I have always found my physics background to be tremendously useful even though many are surprised when they hear that is what my degree is in. I would be happy to talk about my experiences. Tie line 295-6532, (845) 435-6532 - April 2005
Peter Yim '86 (yimpj-at-umdnj.edu)
After graduation from Swarthmore, I taught science and math for 2 years at Friends Academy on Long Island and then taught physics for 2 years at the American High School in Quito, Ecuador. I then attended graduate school in Biomedical Engineering at the Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where I got my masters and doctorate. Then I spent 5 years at the National Institutes of Health in the Diagnostic Radiology Department as a post-doctoral fellow working on the development of computer methods in radiology. Then I took my current position as Assistant Professor at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. - April 2005
Back to top.
Undergrads or recent grads looking for mentorship support from a Swat alum?
Swat alums looking to provide some guidance for undergrads or recent grands?
Find a contact here and email them directly, or email robinleslie-at-alum.swarthmore.edu to have your name added to the list!
John Goodman '60 (john-at-aGoodMan.com)
I would be open to being matched up with one or more Swarthmore undergrad(s) or recent graduate(s) who wanted to get whatever wisdom I may be able to summon up and share that might help them in their careers (or elsewhere in their lives). - April 2005
David Jones '93 (dj.at.yvr att gmail dotNOJUNKcom)
I would be happy to be a mentor in the future. - May 2005
Back to top.
John Mather '68 (John.C.Mather-at-nasa.gov) says:
I've been a member of the Employment committee of the AAS, so we encourage students of all generations to come to the meetings and learn things from career workshops that we arrange. See www.aas.org for the meeting calendars and links to the job register, etc., and www.aas.org/comms/employ.html for the Employment committee.
There's an amazing site discussing job rumors: meltingpot.fortunecity.com/enfield/207/ that is done anonymously.
For Swarthmore students it's probably more important to read some of the excellent books on life as a professional scientist. Physics Today reviews these from time to time.
Back to top.
David Cohen (dcohen1-at-swarthmore.edu) says:
Back to top.
See the Swarthmore College Fellowships and Prizes website and student profiles. Email Christina Dubb (cdubb1-at-swarthmore.edu), Chair of Swarthmore College Fellowships and Prizes Committee to obtain information about fellowship and prize options, deadlines, and applications. Email Joanna Nealon (jnealon1-at-swarthmore.edu) for copies of applications.
Check official websites for Watson, Marshall, Rhodes, Mitchell, Churchill, Gates Cambridge, Fulbright, and Jack Kent Cooke information. Many applications can be completed online or downloaded from these sites. These applications are generally due between early September and October and do not usually require GRE scores.
Swarthmore astro/physics alums have won some of these fellowships. For example, David Jones '93 received a Churchill scholarship in 1993, Kevin Setter '02 received a Jack Kent Cooke fellowship in 2002, Jacob Krich '00 and Matt Landreman '03 received Rhodes Scholarships in 2000 and 2003, and Ben Geller '01, Robin Smith '03 and Matt Miller '04 received Fulbright scholarships to England and France in 2003 and Iceland in 2004, respectively. Feel free to contact them from the list of Swarthmore Alums above.
Information about fellowships to support graduate study and research toward a PhD can be found in the Graduate Research Fellowships section of the guide Applying to Astro/Physics Graduate School below.
Back to top.
Graduate school and post-grad fellowships are just two of the options Swat astro/physics students pursue after college. Scientific writing, peace corps, engineering and computer science jobs in industry or national labs, grad school in related fields such as seismology and physics education, politics, patent review, high school and community college teaching, law, music, business, medical school, oceanography, publishing, finance, ecology, and teaching abroad are some of the careers that Swat astro/physics alums have chosen. See the alumni profiles in the list of Swarthmore Alums above for more ideas, and do not hesitate to contact alums whose interests you may want to explore!
Back to top.
COMPOSED BY LISA LARRIMORE '02: 26 APRIL 2002
REVISED BY ANDREW FEFFERMAN '03: 11 APRIL 2003
REVISED BY VIVA HOROWITZ '05 AND ROBIN SMITH '03: 17 APRIL 2005
REVISED BY ROBIN SMITH '03: 10 MAY 2005
When I was applying to college, I was surrounded by counselors, teachers, and adults who had been through the process and could tell me exactly what to do. Last summer, I realized that there was no one to do that for me during the graduate school application process. Sure, our professors are helpful, but they have not been to grad school in a while and they are not going to make sure you are doing all the things you need to do. I had to figure many things out on my own, and now I know a bunch of things that I wish I knew a year ago. This handout is my attempt to put some of those things on paper. Note that this is just one person's opinion, not an authoritative guide, so please talk to other people and investigate things on your own.
This is arranged somewhat in the order I did things, which is probably similar to the order you should worry about them. I spent a lot of time at MIT talking to one of the faculty members on the admissions committee about what they look for in an application, so I will include his comments as I proceed.
Additional resources on planning for grad school include:
All the graduate schools I applied to (as well as fellowships) required the General GRE. It is a computerized test, so you just go to www.gre.org, find the testing center nearest you (the closest one to here is in the basement of the Curtis Center in Philly), and schedule an appointment to go in and take the test. You can take the test any day, but the spots fill up very fast, so make your appointment well ahead of time. The exam will cost you about $115. The General GRE currently consists of three sections: Verbal (like the SAT verbal section, but harder), Quantitative (like the SAT math section, but easier), and Analytical Writing. You will probably want to spend some time reviewing vocabulary and the types of questions they ask, so taking the GRE over the summer (when you don't have classes to worry about) might be a good idea. There is a copy of the Princeton Review GRE book in the student lounge that you can use to review for the exam. You can also download two real tests from the GRE website that are very helpful for getting used to the computerized format of the test. The MIT faculty member I talked to said that the first thing they do is throw out applications with really low GRE scores. They expect all their students to do very well on the Analytical section, and fairly well on the Verbal, since they want students who can think and communicate.
The Physics GRE is a written test offered on specific dates (see www.gre.org); I took it here at Swarthmore in November. You may be able to take the test in December and still get the scores to the grad schools you're applying to on time, but that's cutting it close. Check to be sure that taking it in December is okay with the grad school. The exam costs $130. The physics department sometimes organizes a lunchtime review session in the fall, which is very helpful. The Physics GRE does not test your ability to think, to solve physics problems, or to be a good physics graduate student. It tests whether you have memorized formulas and can recall them quickly. The thing I did to prepare that was most helpful for me was to skim through a Physics 3/4 type textbook (for example: Wolfson and Paschoff; Haliday, Resnick, and Walker; etc).
The MIT professor I talked to said that they recognize that students from liberal arts schools do not do as well on the Physics GRE as students from universities (just like all American students do much worse than the more specialized international students), and that this does not mean that liberal arts students will not be successful as graduate students. Do not expect to do as well on the Physics GRE as on the General GRE.
You will need three or four letters of recommendation for the graduate schools and fellowship programs you apply to. So start thinking about faculty you can ask, and try to give them notice well in advance. If you are not sure whether asking a particular person is a good idea, it is perfectly ok to ask if they would feel comfortable writing a letter for you. You do not have to limit yourself to Swarthmore physics faculty, either; you can ask people at other places where you have done research, or professors in related departments, like math. Your letters of recommendation are very important, and you want to ask people who can say something special about you. If one of your seminar professors is writing for you, feel free to remind him/her about aspects of seminar you really enjoyed, things you did presentations about, etc.
Transcripts from the registrar cost $5 each. Over winter break, I requested more copies of transcripts with my fall semester grades on them, and I sent one of these to each of the schools and fellowships I applied for. I included a cover letter explaining the "IP" grade for my thesis and elaborating about the things I did in each of those classes.
Graduate research fellowships give you much more flexibility in choosing a graduate school and in doing what you want there (since you have independent funding, potential research advisors don't need to worry about finding grant money to pay you!). Some (such as NSF and NDSEG) accept applications from not only graduating seniors but graduate students as well.
The NSF offers graduate research fellowships upwards of $21,500/year for three years. Talk to faculty members here about whether you should apply, and start your application in advance: it requires four time-consuming essays, and the application is usually due around the same time as the Physics GRE. The good news is, this application requires a lot more work than actual grad school applications, so you'll be prepared. You don't hear back until April, so be patient. (They usually plan to report NSF awardees before 15 April when commitments to grad schools must be made.) And if you don't get one the first time around, you can apply again as a graduate student.
Swat physics alum Cameron Geddes '97 received a Hertz fellowship. Mike Seifert '01 and Slava Lukin '00 received NSF fellowships in 2002, and Kevin Setter '02 received a Jack Kent Cooke fellowship in 2002. Ursula Whitcher '03 received a Swarthmore Fellowship in 2003. Lisa Larrimore '02 received an NSF fellowship in 2004. Mark Romanowsky '03 received an NDSEG fellowship in 2005, and Robin Smith '03 received an ALFP in 2005.
Here are some links providing information about the NSF and other graduate fellowships:
Note that these fellowships all provide funding for your graduate studies toward a PhD. Information about fellowships which permit study abroad for astro/physics research or study or something completely different is available above at the Fellowships and Prizes section. These study abroad fellowship applications are generally due earier (early September or October) than graduate fellowships and do not usually require GRE scores.
Most physics grad school applications are due from mid-December to mid-January. Most applications are online, and you can find them by going to the school's homepage and looking around.
Deciding where to apply is probably the most difficult step of this process, and the one I can offer the least advice about. Here are a few things you might think about:
You should also remember that your decision is not final. If you go to a school for a year and decide you do not like it, you can always transfer somewhere else: it's a lot easier than transferring between colleges.
You might also consider looking at departments other than physics. At Stanford, the Applied Physics students have access to the same experimental physics professors as the Physics students, but they have fewer requirements, qualifying exams, etc. Or you may find that geophysics or earth and planetary sciences are interesting fields and be able to apply in them.
To find more information about specific schools, you can visit their websites or look up unbiased information in the references given in the section Links to Outside Information above.
You have to decide which schools you are applying to in enough time to give your recommenders advance notice, but the only time-consuming parts of the applications are writing your personal statement and contacting individual professors. Both of these involve deciding what field you are going to apply in; all schools will ask to have some sense of your interests, though this is rarely a binding decision. I decided to apply in Condensed Matter Experiment.
All applications require a personal statement, or "Statement of Purpose," somewhere in the 500-1000 word range.
The MIT professor I talked to said that statement of purpose was rarely the deciding factor in an application, and that it was more often used to keep someone out than to get someone in. They want to see that you can write well, so ask a friend or a WA to look it over. Demonstrate that you know what research is (by writing about previous research experiences and possible plans for the future) and that you have been involved in your school (as a clinician, sysadmin, WA, tutor, etc.). If you know exactly what you want to do, this is your chance to talk about it. If there is something that makes you unique, write about that: the MIT guy said that one student was finishing a M.A. in music from the New England Conservatory, and that he was admitted because he would add something different to the grad student community.
Even if you do not know exactly what you want to do, you should sound like you have some direction. Which brings up the question of applying as an experimentalist or as a theoretician...
It is easier to get accepted to grad school in experiment than in theory. I talked for a while with Bob Laughlin, the Nobel-prize winning condensed matter theorist at Stanford, about the difference between theory and experiment. He said that at any grad school, there is much less funding for theory, and there are fewer job opportunities afterwards. "The days of being paid to think about physics are going away." He said that a lot of people think the future of physics is biophysics, but that there is really not much physics there, and that he thinks the future of physics is in making things, in nanoscience. He suggested thinking about what you want to do after you graduate. "I decided that I wanted to discover something really new. And I did. If your goal is to discover something, maybe the risks of theory are worth it. But if you just want to be a solid member of the academy with a good position, experiment is a much easier way to that."
So there are two questions to consider: What do you actually want to do in graduate school, and what do you want to say that you want to do on your application? The MIT professor I talked to, who was a condensed matter experimentalist, said, "This is one of the easiest areas to get accepted to, so if you knew how to play the game, you would apply to this area and then transfer out later." Whatever you decide to apply in, make sure it reflects your record. If you have spent the past three summers working with theorists and advanced laboratory was your worst class at Swarthmore, graduate schools are not going to believe that you are really passionate about physics experiment. They want students who have experience in experimental labs.
I worked for two summers with Amy Bug doing computational physics and one summer in an experimental optics lab at NIST. I talked about the latter in my personal statement to show my interest in experiments, and I talked about the former to show my interest in condensed matter physics.
If there are specific professors you want to work with, you should definitely email them before you apply and let them know you are interested and ask about their research. Many of the grad school applications have a place for you to write the names of any professors you have contacted.
Expect to hear back from grad schools at varying times. I received my first acceptance in mid-January and did not receive my last acceptance until mid-March. Most schools are required to notify you of their decision by April 1. Schools do not send out all their acceptances and rejections at once; they send out acceptances as soon as they have decided on a particular student, so the first letters you receive will likely contain good news and fellowship offers. Once a school decides to accept you, they will probably have professors and students call or email you to tell you about what a wonderful program it is. Besides being flattering, these are great chances to ask questions you have about the schools (see below).
Once you are accepted, you will want to know how much money the school is offering you. Some schools will support you through part time TAs (teaching assistantships) or RAs (research assistantships). Others may offer you fellowships, which are usually larger amounts of money that you do not have to work for. It is not the case that receiving a fellowship is vastly superior to receiving a TA. Some graduate students appreciate the opportunity to solidify basic physics by teaching it to undergrads. If you are deciding between a school that has offered you a TA and one that has offered you a fellowship, the financial offer might not be the most important factor in your decision. Also, it's important to take into account the cost of living in the area where the grad school is located when comparing financial offers from the schools you are accepted to.
Once you are accepted, graduate schools will invite you to visit and pay for (some of) your travel expenses. If you have been accepted to a lot of schools, you will have to narrow down your list, since it is hard to get away from Swarthmore for more than about three trips. Most schools have an organized open house, and if the open houses fit into your schedule, I heartily recommend them. They require much less work from you, since otherwise you will have to schedule all your own meetings with professors or tours of labs, they involve much more yummy free food, and they give you the opportunity to meet your future classmates. I've included below some of the questions that I found it helpful to ask while visiting.
(It is generally a bad idea to go to graduate school because you want to work with one particular person, especially if he/she is a new faculty member who does not yet have tenure. Make sure there are a variety of professors whose work interests you.)
Cost of Viva applying to grad school in 2004-5
6/17 $115 GRE General
7/16 $7.50 Septa to Philly for GRE General
11/13 $165 for November Physics GRE (including standby fee)
12/14 $90 for Harvard Application
12/15 $100 for Stanford Application
12/20 $126 to ETS to send GRE scores to 8 universities
12/28 $16.21 resume paper
12/28 $60 UC Santa Barbara Application fee
12/30 $45 U Wisconsin application fee
12/31 $17.18 FedEx application to Wisconsin
1/1 $60 Cornell U application fee
1/8 $60 U Michigan application fee
1/8 $40 U Illinois application fee
1/11 $50 Colorado application fee
1/11 $7.70 Post office: mailing Michigan and Illinois
1/22 $36 ETS to send GRE scores to Maryland and Stony Brook
1/23 $50 to U Maryland College Park application fee
Total to ETS for GRES: $442 (would have been $395 if I had acted sooner)
Total Application fees: $555
Other (train, postage, resume paper): $48.59
USNews Grad Advice, not just rankings: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/grhome.htm
and if you really want rankings...
USNews from 2002, by subdiscipline: http://newton.ex.ac.uk/aip/physnews.423.html
USNews from 2000, overall physics: http://sun.stanford.edu/~gizon/usnews_physics_00.html
and the methodology behind the USNews rankings: http://www.usnews.com/usnews/edu/grad/rankings/about/06phdsci_meth_brief.php
Comments for revision and addition are appreciated. Please email Robin Smith (robinleslie-at-alum.swarthmore.edu).
Website updated 9 June 2005 by Robin Smith.