Grad service activities

It’s easy to get involved around here! There are always a ton of activities going on, both within your research area and more broadly within the Physics Department.

Perhaps the most obvious activities that come to mind for you are hanging out with labmates and showing up to the occasional research seminar.

As graduate students, we also have the opportunity to help pick seminar speakers; steer the course of social activities in the department; and give back to our department, MIT, and Boston communities through service!

Please find a selection of opportunities (as of 2020) below. Most students participate in at least one of these activities, and many students serve their peers through multiple leadership and service positions!

There are a wide variety of opportunities, and something that fits everyone! PGSC strongly encourages you to get involved in building a strong community and collaborative student culture.

For a list of MIT-wide activities, see our resources page.

Department-wide activities

Department-wide organizations

Department-wide outreach and mentoring programs that need many volunteers

  • First-year buddy program – help guide a new graduate student and get multiple meals out reimbursed by the department
  • Physics Graduate Application Assistance Program (PhysGAAP) – mentor students who are working on their application essays for grad school
  • Mentoring programs for undergraduate courses — currently there are mentoring programs run for 8.01*, 8.02*, 8.03, 8.033, and 8.04. Improve your mentoring skills, help out a student in need, and even get paid for it!
  • GWIP-UWIP Mentoring Program – graduate womxn mentor undergraduate womxn and get multiple meals out reimbursed by the department
  • Astrogazers – outreach program that shows the cosmos to the public
  • Astronomy on Tap – astronomy. Beer. Need we say more?

Department committee representatives

  • Physics Values Committee (4 grad reps) – guides the department to better uphold its values at a structural and systemic level
  • Admissions Committee (3 grad reps) – admits the newest crop of graduate students
  • Colloquium Committee (2 grad reps) – picks out speakers for our department-wide colloquia
  • Education Committee (1 grad rep) – sets academic policies and procedures for the department

Physics representatives to institute-wide organizations

A selection of recurring department activities that need many helpers:

  • PGSC socials
    • Entails helping procure and distribute free food and beverage
  • Physics Department orientation (August)
    • Entails talking to new students and partaking of free food
  • Admitted student visit (early April). Entails one or multiple of:
    • Hosting students at your apartment
    • Helping show students around campus
    • Talking to students individually or through panels
    • Research-type events
    • Partaking of free food and beverage

Division-level activities

Here we list division-level activities that graduate students can help manage.

Note that in addition to the activities listed here, many research groups and divisions also host a wide variety of other seminars and activities organized by faculty and staff — ranging from regular social events and seminars with food, to free dinner with seminar speakers, to fancy-schmancy holiday parties,

Many new opportunities and one-off committees pop up in the research areas on occasion, ranging from Strike for Black Lives organizing committees, to Graduate Student Search Committees (GSSCs) that participate in faculty searches, to groups that help out with the admitted student visits in each division.

Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics (AMO / CUA)

  • Equity Journal Club (2 co-founders, + a new presenter every 2 weeks)
  • CUA Postdoc + Grad student Lunch Organizer (1 organizer)
  • Junior Student AMO Study Group (1+ organizers + a new presenter every 2 weeks)
  • Loose collection of community members trying to push anti-racist initiatives into CUA policy (~50 students, postdocs, and faculty)
  • CUA website – contains information about more AMO activities, including activities for students but not organized by students

Astrophysics and MIT Kavli Institute (ASTRO / MKI)

  • Journal Club (2 student organizers)
  • ArXiv Tea (1-2 student organizers)
  • Grad Lunch (2 student organizers) 
  • MKI Anti-Racism Task Force (4 grad students)  [this is only a task force for this summer, but may continue in some evolved capacity in the fall]
  • General Relativity Informal Tea Time Seminar (GRITTS) (1 grad student organizer?)
  • MKI website – contains information about more astrophysics activities, including activities for students but not organized by students

Biophysics (BIO)

No known student-organized events, but some of the other social highlights include:

  • Friday Happy Hour —  2 ~30min talks, organized by two PLS Fellow Postdocs, food/drinks afterwards
  • Biophysics Retreat – 2 days every fall in Cape Cod
  • See also Physics of Living Systems group webpage

Condensed Matter Theory (CMT)

  • Weekly CMT-CTP tea (1 student organizer from CMT, 1 from CTP)
  • CMT webpage – contains information about more CMT activities, including activities for students but not organized by students

Condensed Matter Experiment (CMX)

  • Weekly CMX journal club (1 student organizer)

Nuclear and Particle Theory (NUPAT / CTP)

  • Weekly CTP graduate student lunch seminar (2-3 organizers, traditionally first-year graduate students)
  • Weekly joint CTP-CMT tea (1 organizer from CTP, 1 from CMT)
  • BSM/DM/LHC/QCD/ML journal club (~2 grad students)
  • Hep-th student journal club (1 main grad student organizer)
  • CTP webpage – contains information about more CTP activities, including activities for students but not organized by students

Nuclear and Particle Experiment (NUPAX)

  • LNS Strike for Black Lives Task Force (2 grad students)
  • Weekly LNS student lunch seminar (1-2 organizers)
  • Grad student representative on LNS lunchtime seminar committee (1 student)
  • Nu-DM student journal club (1 organizer)
  • LNS webpage – contains information about more LNS activities, including activities for students but not organized by students

Plasma Physics (PLASMA / PSFC)

  • Weekly Turbulence & Transport (T^2) journal club (2 student organizers)
  • Slack T^2 channel to support grads and UROP students at the MIT-PSFC
  • PSFC webpage – contains information about more PSFC activities, including activities for students but not organized by students