Physics Reading Seminar Spring 2021

General Physics Reading Seminar Information

Students can ramp up on research skills via a one-quarter long physics reading seminar series. The procedure is:

  1. Students form a group of 5 to 10 with a specific research topic
  2. Students contact the Department Chair at least 1 month before the quarter begins; and
  3. The Department Chair will find a graduate student or a postdoc to supervise the group via weekly meetings

The supervisor will provide readings and assignments as needed. The final deliverable would be a 5 page write-up in two-column LaTeX. Both students and the supervisor will receive certificates from the Department Chair, recognizing their work.

Spring Quarter 2021-- Dr. Seth Koren, Introductory Particle Physics

Message from Dr. Seth Koren

About this quarter's topic

I will be leading a reading seminar on introductory particle physics. The plan will be first to go through the beginning chunk of Thomson's Modern Particle Physics and introduce basic concepts about the Standard Model, what happens at collider experiments, and how to compute rates for particle interactions. After that I'll be happy to continue on in any variety of directions that interest students, from QCD to the Higgs mechanism to dark matter and beyond. For students who wish to receive a certificate from the department, the format requires a final project.  This will involve studying particle production at a current or future supercollider, using some simulation software which will also be introduced. 

About Dr. Seth Koren

I'm a new postdoc in theoretical particle physics based at the Enrico Fermi Institute on campus. My thesis focused on the hierarchy problem, but I have broad interests and have worked on topics from using the Higgs to search for new particles at colliders to early universe particle cosmology beyond the standard model to new technology for computing scattering amplitudes and more. I mentored and worked with undergrads throughout my time in grad school, all of whom are now themselves graduate students in physics. I was awarded two fellowships for research with undergrads, as well as a university-wide award for excellence in teaching.

Format of the Seminar

As per the format, my role will be foremost supervisory--that is, I will not mainly be giving lectures. Instead, I will offer suggested readings and exercises, we'll discuss them and work through difficult points together, and I'll talk about conceptual points worth underscoring. My purpose in volunteering to do this is to help interested students learn, so the point is emphatically not to just make work for people. As a result, what you get out will be a strong function of what you put in. So while this will be a more independent learning experience from a class, there will be an emphasis on collaborative learning with your peers. There will be a Slack where students will be encouraged to discuss confusions from readings, or difficulties with exercises therein, or trouble with the collider simulations, or whatever else. I will endeavor to make myself available as much as possible for questions and discussions and suggestions for advanced readings on topics of interest.

Spring Quarter Students

Information about the students participating in the Spring 2021 Reading Seminar will be available soon.