Stefan Baessler / Physics

Students in physics are supposed to gain first research experience during their studies as an undergraduate. In my experience as an advisor to the Society of Physics Students, and as the leader of my own research lab, I find that for many first and second year students, it is difficult to find a research project. Difficulties are that many students do not know about the importance of gaining research experience, and/or do not know how make contact to the research groups, and/or do not know what could interest them.

With support of the Meade Endowment, I would like to start a undergraduate research seminar series. The series would be advertised in the Introductory Physics classes, one of which I am teaching anyway. The setting would be that about 15 first and second-year students meet with two student presenters and me over lunch. The presenting students will be older students who already did undergraduate research, e.g., in this summer. Priority will be given to research projects that take place in the Physics department. The presenting students give talks about their research, about their motivation to do what they did, and their activities to get in contact with their research mentors. I am planning to hold four seminar sessions during the fall semester. As an incentive for the student presenters, I’d like to be able to offer each of them a gift card from the UVa bookstore or Barnes and Nobles for the student speakers in appreciation of their work in preparing a presentation. Additional I will select a “best presentation reward” at the end, and the best presenter will get a second gift card as a prize.

For the budget, I anticipate:
Expenses for pizza and soft drinks for 17 students per seminar session: $150
Expenses for speakers: 2x$60. There will be two student speakers per session.

Total per session: $270
Total for four sessions: $1080
Price for “best presentation”: $60
Total budget: $1140