Resources for the Graduate Student Peer Mentoring Program
Washington University Physics Department

Find a Mentor * Orientation Schedule * Graduate Student Resources

About Mentors@Physics:

Welcome new students!
The graduate students of the Physics Department at Washington University began a peer mentoring program in the Spring of 1999. Currently, there are twelve student mentors whose purpose is to help our new students transition into graduate school and to provide support throughout your first few years. We run both the Physics Department orientation in the fall and the Prospective Student weekend in the spring. Additionally, we host lunches and events for you several times throughout the year to discuss helpful topics like preparing for midterms and finals, choosing a research group, getting to know St. Louis, or just to have fun. And, most importantly, we're always available to answer questions, give advice, and provide any sort of help you may need. Never hestitate to ask or come to us; that's what we're here for!
This page contains useful resources for prospective graduate students, first-year graduate students, and anyone else interested in the program. If you would like to talk to someone, please contact the entire group at or select an individual from the list of mentors.

2017 Physics Graduate Student Orientation Week Schedule (subject to changes throughout summer!)

Thursday, August 17
Physics Department Orientation!
9:00 AM in Compton 245
Welcome to the new student orientation! Today is a full day, starting with an introduction by the illustrious Mark Alford, chair of the department.

Lunch at Seoul Taco
10:45 AM in Compton 245
Join us for free lunch at Seoul Taco on the Loop.

Computer Orientation, Campus Services Overview, and Campus Tour
1:00 PM in Compton 241
We will begin with a tour of campus on our way back from lunch. Then, learn about the Department's computer setups and services.

Library Orientation
2:30 PM in the Physics Library
Let our helpful department librarian Alison Verbeck show you the ins and outs of our own physics library. This is a nice quiet place to study or find that one reference to help your latest project.
Friday, August 18
Physics Department Barbecue
Noon in the Physics Courtyard
Maybe the two best parts of grad school (cheap/FREE food and quality people) come together here. Every Friday one of the grad students brings food for a BBQ which starts at noon in the physics courtyard. For $1 you get the all the meat you want. On this special Friday, all incoming students get free food. Please note there will be a vegetarian option. If BBQ food doesn't appeal to you, bring your own lunch and join us anyway!
Monday, August 21
Graduate School Orientation
8:30 AM in Laboratory Sciences, Room 300
Please attend this mandatory Arts and Science Graduate School orientation.
Tuesday, August 22
International Student Orientation
9:30 AM in January Hall, Room 110

Dinner Before the Party
5:30 PM at Fitz's
Since dinner will not be provided at the party, feel free to join several mentors in going out for food beforehand. This will not be paid for, so make sure to bring your own money!

Informal Party with Mentors
7:00 PM at Kelsey's House, or 6:30 PM in the Physics Courtyard to walk over as a group
Come enjoy more food and fun along the lines of bean bags, washers, etc. Feel free to bring any significant others. Note that dinner will not be provided, but some light snacks/drinks will be present for your enjoyment!
Wednesday, August 23
TA Orientation
8:30 AM to 2:00 PM in Laboratory Sciences Building
The Graduate School of Arts & Sciences conducts a lecture on the relevant policies, resources, and strategies of being a Teaching Assistant. Also, you'll have a chance to meet with experienced TAs to get their opinions and advice. Attendance is required.

Dinner at Thai Gai Yang Restaurant on the Loop
6:30 PM at the restaurant, or 6:15 PM in the Physics Department
Enjoy free dinner at a local Thai restaurant.

Drinks on the Loop
8:30 PM on the Loop
The Loop is a district just north of WashU's campus that houses famous restaurants and locations, which include Blueberry Hill, The Pageant, Tivoli Theatre, Fitz's,... just to name just a few. Tonight we'll check out one (or more) of the local bars after dinner has concluded. If you didn't come to dinner but want to join us for drinks, contact Mack.
Thursday, August 24
Frisbee on Mudd Field
3:15 PM in Crow 222
Come out and join us for some frisbee on Mudd Field, a popular activity with many of the department's graduate students. It'll probably be hot, so bring water!

Bowling at Moolah Lanes
6:30 PM in the Physics Courtyard
Come study rotational motion, slippage and momentum transfer. Just kidding, come bowl with fellow physics students. There's also a pool table and pingpong table. What could beat bowling in the basement of an old shriner's temple on Thursday night?! All are welcome. Incoming students play for free, and friends or significant others pay $5 (plus $3 cost of shoe rental). Bring cash if you want to purchase food/drinks there, and rides are available.
Friday, August 25
Friday BBQ
Noon in the Physics Courtyard
Maybe the two best parts of grad school (cheap food and quality people) come together here. Every Friday one of the grad students brings food for a BBQ which starts at noon in the physics courtyard. For $1 you get the all the meat you want. On this regular Friday, everybody must pay to eat. Please note there will be a vegetarian option. If BBQ food doesn't appeal to you, bring your own lunch and join us anyway!

Volleyball at Shaw Park
6:30 PM in the Physics Courtyard
Kick off the shoes and play some sand volleyball with us at Shaw Park. It's a great way to enjoy a St. Louis evening, so get ready to serve, bump, set, and spike with the rest of us. Rides can be provided. Feel free to join us at Shaw Park anytime this evening... we'll probably be playing until ~10pm.
Saturday, August 26
Mix-and-Mingle BBQ/Dinner (for ALL Graduate Students)
3:00 PM in Rettner Gallery in Lab Sciences
Yet another opportunity for some free food/drink (welcome to grad school!). Feel free to attend this event on your own or with other new physics grad students.

City Museum and Mr. Wizard's Frozen Custard
6:30 PM at the Physics Loading Dock
City Museum is the most magical place in the world, for kids and adults alike. This place is a jungle of concrete, metal, and other recycled materials... you can go anywhere and climb on anything, but be sure to wear old clothes that you won't mind getting dirty or even torn (and do not wear jewelry or bring purses). A staple of orientation week activities, City Museum promises to wear you out and make you want to come back for more. New students get free admission (bring money for any snacks or drinks which you would like) and friends pay only $8. There are also two bars inside, so bring your ID/money if you want to have any alcohol. This event will be followed by delicious and famous Mr. Wizard's Frozen Custard (please bring your own money for the delicious post-City-Museum snack!).
Sunday, August 27
Pizza Dinner and Games/Movies/Fun
6:00 PM in Compton 241
A relaxed atmosphere where you can learn about some of the quieter ways we pass the time. Ok, it's probably not going to be that quiet. Card games, Smash Bros., board games, Rock Band, and more shenanigans are sure to take place. This is free to all who want to come... and we'll have free pizza! Family and friends are invited, and if you have games you want to share, bring those too! Note that if you want to be included in the head count for pizza, you MUST be present by 6pm.
Monday, August 28
Department Pot Luck Lunch and Games in the Quad
Noon in the Physics Courtyard
An annual department tradition to welcome new students as they begin their classes! Bring a food dish to share with the whole department (be sure to sign up for bringing a specific dish in advance... the sign up sheet will probably be in the office). FYI: The department has a couple refrigerators, an electric stove/oven (for warming ONLY), and a couple microwaves, in case you need them for your dish.

Summer Weekly Events:

Feel free to join in anytime! Contact any of the mentors for details.
  • Frisbee on Tuesday/Thursday at 5pm on Mudd Field
  • Soccer on Wednesday at noon on Francis Field
  • Dinner out on the town or Game Night on the weekends
  • Card/video games in Crow 222 anytime

Semester Weekly Events:

We recommend that current students go to as many of these as they can!
Physics Department Colloquia: Departmental Colloquia are good ways to see what's happening in our physics community as a whole. (Remember, even professors sometimes don't understand everything that's going on!)

Graduate Student Seminars: The Graduate Student Seminar Series, held every Friday at 4:00pm in Crow 206, is a great opportunity to get to know fellow grad students and learn about their research. All are welcome; first- and second-year students are particularly invited to attend. (Note that there are also free snacks and beer!)

Helpful Graduate Student Resources:

Getting Started in St. Louis:

Life at WashU:

WashU Grad School Info and Resources:

Professional (and other) Societies:

Support and Advice for Graduate Students:

...especially to finish your dissertation and find a job:

Something to help you relax:

Meet the Mentors:

Augusto Medeiros
5th year
Particle Physics
(Prof. Ferrer)
I'm from Porto Alegre, a city in Brazil that has about the same size, crime rate, and weather as St. Louis (but no snow). I did my undergrad at a federal university known for its wildlife (see pictures), and came to the US for grad school after deciding that what I needed in my life was having summer twice a year. When not doing "astroparticle physics" (whatever that's supposed to be), I enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons, fabulous posing, and movies that are so bad they're good (e.g Machete). Every now and again I'll decide I need to get in better shape, play some sports for a while then give up.
Mack Atkinson
5th year
Many Body Theory
(Prof. Dickhoff)
I grew up in the deep south known as Birmingham, Alabama in all its glory. I went just a bit more north for my undergrad at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm always down to shotgun some beers, for your health. I like to play any sport (except soccer of course), and you'll also find me climbing a lot. I'm a big fan of music. I love going to live music shows whenever I can, and plenty of awesome bands come through St. Louis. If I'm not outside you can bet that I'll be playing some N64 (hence my picture).
Kelsey Meinerz
4th year
(Prof. Conradi)
Hi there! I was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI and then decided to stick around there for my undergrad years and so I attended Marquette University where I majored in Physics. Our department there was quite small and close-knit, so I opted to come to Wash U since I really enjoyed the family-like feel of the department here. I've always enjoyed playing sports, so I try to join in on all the intramural sports teams that the department puts together as well as our pick-up teams. In my free time, I like to hang with my dog, find good places to eat, play video games, and drink tasty beers. If you would like to chat about all things Wisconsin or have any questions about life in STL feel free to contact me anytime!
Tyler Webb
4th year
Expt. Nuclear Physics
(Prof. Sobotka)
I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, raised and educated in central Arkansas. I received my bachelors in physics from Hendrix College, a small liberal arts school in Conway, AR. In my free time, I play video games, listen to and write about music, play guitar (badly) and bass (worsely), watch baseball, and run. I'm always happy to shoot the breeze about any of these things, so if you'd like to chat or just have any questions, just shoot me an e-mail.
Quin Abarr
3rd year
(Prof. Krawczynski)
I'm originally from South Bend, Indiana, and studied Physics at DePauw (not to be confused with DePaul) in the middle of nowhere in Indiana. Moving to St. Louis was a very welcome change of pace, since there's so much to do (and so much good beer). Some of my favorite things in the area are the City Museum, Kali the polar bear at the zoo, Clementine's Creamery, and Seoul Taco. When not studying, which is probably too often, my hobbies include reading post-modern books (like this), playing piano, sarcasm, watching Mr. Robot, and playing board games.
Sabrina Chen
3rd year
Biophysical Chemistry
(Prof. Barnes)
I was born and raised in Tainan, Taiwan, a city with amazing food and great weather. I did my undergrad in Taipei, the largest city in Taiwan. I love music very much. I played the flute in the band for several years. I also enjoy going to concerts, playing frisbee, and watching baseball games. I moved to St. Louis last summer and I really enjoy the life here. Wash U campus is so beautiful and I love taking photos while walking (sometimes I miss the bus for this lol). People at our department are so nice and friendly. We do sports, have parties, BBQ and PIB. When I have questions about academia, TAing or the life here, people are happy to help! Wash U Physics is like a big family to me. I'm glad you'll be joining us soon. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. I'd be happy to answer. Also, if you by any chance plan to visit Taiwan, I'd love to show you around!
Mark Sellers
3rd year
Expt. Condensed Matter/Materials Science
(Prof. Kelton)
I’m a native of Kansas City, Missouri (not Kansas, that’s very important!) and yes, that is my natural hair. I went to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. At Rhodes, I studied physics and minored in Spanish and I also played lead tenor saxophone in the jazz band. On top of all that, I did research involving the ultrasonic detection of osteoporosis in human bone samples! At Wash U, I’m going to join Dr. Ken Kelton’s group. The main thrust of his research is to understand the properties of metallic liquids and their connection to the properties of metallic glasses. I built a gaming PC last summer, so when I’m not studying, I’m usually playing video games. If you ever want to talk about Skyrim, Fallout 4, or if you want to join me in a game of Dirty Bomb, CS:GO, or Overwatch, just let me know! I’m looking for more people to play with. Glad you’ve made the choice to come here and let me know if you have any question about the first year! I should be pretty easy to spot in a crowd.
Jared Lalmansingh
3rd year
Protein Biophysics
(Prof. Pappu)
I'm originally from the twin-island republic of Trinidad and Tobago, a Caribbean nation located just off the coast of Venezuela, where I was raised until I came to the US to study physics. In addition to that pursuit, my other interests are heavily technologically-motivated, and driven. Perhaps due to this predilection I have little endearment towards participating in most physically-demanding sports, with the exception of Ultimate Frisbee.
John Monroe
2nd year
Quantum Information
(Prof. Murch)
I was born and raised in the great Lone Star State, and I'm a Fightin' Texas Aggie to boot. During my time at Texas A&M I got degrees in physics and math with a couple minors sprinkled in for fun. I have a strange love for the hot blanket that is summer humidity, and especially enjoy sweating it out on the intramural teams here at WashU. When I'm not out in the sun I especially enjoy reading and philosophising as well as cooking and eating (the former for the sake of the latter). As an undergrad I studied extragalactic astronomy, but here at WashU I work on experimental quantum foundations with an emphasis on control for quantum computing. I'm always down to grab a beer and talk about whatever!
Kainen Utt
2nd year
(Prof. Ogliore)
Like Mark, I m a Kansas City, Missouri native: consider this fact to be an open invitation to talk to me about barbecue, baseball, or jazz. As part of my journey to St. Louis from KC, I stopped off at the University of Arkansas to study physics and mathematics. While there, I worked with a research group studying two-dimensional condensed matter physics. In addition to my coursework, I tried (unsuccessfully) to relive my high school cross country glory days by joining the triathlon team. Apparently, I overlooked the prefix of that word, because it turns out that I am an awful swimmer. Currently, I work with Professor Ryan Ogliore s astrophysics group. If I m not studying or in the lab, you can find me unable to get up because my cat is on my lap, cooking, voraciously listening to podcasts, running, or watching Royals baseball with a Boulevard beer in hand. I m excited to meet all of you, so don t be shy to shoot me an email if you have any questions or just want to chat.
Furqan Dar
2nd year
Numerical Relativity/Astrophysics
(Prof. Krawczynski)
Hello! I'm from Rawalpindi, Pakistan, a city that's hotter and almost as humid as St Louis, but I've spent my life all over the northern parts of Pakistan. I hopped across the pond to attend Kenyon College - a small liberal arts college surrounded by Ohio corn fields, so moving to St Louis has been rather fun. Since Kenyon was a tiny school,These days, I find myself getting into the diverse swing dancing scene of St Louis (which you should totally, totally get into), and sampling the many, many different food options around St Louis - occasionally, I'll sing karaoke as well. If you want to go on curry adventures, or just chat about life or academics, do not hesitate to shoot me an email as I'd more than happy to chat!
Natalia Calleya
2nd year
Nuclear & Particle Physics
(Prof. Dickhoff)
Hello! was born and raised in Brazil and now I'm here trying to get a PhD. It's been a mix of Sarah's Scribbles and PhD Comics, but it's really enjoyable, I swear! Other things that I enjoy are food, dogs, reading and most recently running and dancing - St Louis has a lot of good places to do both. I'm a bit into gaming too, so I can balance all this and not break the stereotype too much. If you wanna talk or have questions like "how to do thing?", "what should I do about this?", "will I ever get a Nobel prize?", "Is it okay to like string theory?" please don't hesitate to contact me! Being a first year can be stressful and there's no reason to do it alone :)

Nara Higano
Mentor Emerita
6th year
Medical Physics
(Prof. Woods)
I was born and raised in the great state of Minnesota, don'tcha know, where I attended Gustavus Adolphus College studying physics and Roman/Greek Classics. When not discussing my love of Minnesota, I tend to be studying and performing research on some snazzy new pulmonary MRI physics techniques. I played ice hockey and lacrosse in college, but I really love learning to play new sports through the department's many intramural activities (we'll win a championship eventually!). I really enjoy teaching and helping others, so if you have any questions about life, love, or the pursuit of physics, hit me up!
Matt Reisman
Mentor Emeritus
6th year
Biomedical Physics
(Prof. Culver)
I spent the first half of my childhood in Columbus, OH, and the second half in my still hometown of Boulder, CO, where I ultimately got my undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado. I spent one year in there somewhere at Boston University, but I ran out of money and went back home. I can often be seen around the department wearing apparel for one of the Denver sports teams. I enjoy playing all sports, jazz music, trivia, and traveling to different Major League Baseball stadiums. I collect Pixar movies and bobbleheads, of which my respective favorites are this and this.

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Last Updated : 7 August 2017

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