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Attendance at departmental and university-sponsored seminars is an important component of your educational experience (and will be so during your entire career). The department sponsors several seminar series. You are expected to attend whenever possible, even if you feel that the topic is outside of your immediate interests: our goal is to produce well-rounded graduates. Attendance offers exposure to topics you might not otherwise see, the opportunity to observe what characteristics make for a good or not-so-good seminar presentation (important skills to develop!), and the chance to make professional contacts which could be important in your future. Seminars should be well advertised with web page postings and email reminders.


Our most formal series is the Departmental Colloquia. These seminars are often presented by visitors to the department, and thus offer insight into work being performed elsewhere in the astronomical / planetary communities. These events are usually scheduled for Friday afternoons at 3:15 PM in BX102. Coffee, tea, and cookies are usually provided at 3:00 PM in advance of the talk. We generally schedule a round-table discussion between the speaker and graduate students immediately following the colloquium; attendance by students is expected, and this is a great opportunity to talk as a group with speakers about their interests and experiences in the field. When a visitor comes to town to present a colloquium, they are generally here for a full day at least, and we schedule slots for the visitor to meet with individuals. Students are encouraged to sign up for these slots, especially for students that work in a research area related to that of the speaker; this is a great opportunity to make some connections outside of the Department. There are also opportunities to talk with speakers in a small, less formal, group setting, by signing up to go to lunch or dinner (which also gets you a meal paid for by the Department!).

Pizza lunch

A less formal, but no less important, series is our Pizza Lunch. This series gives people an opportunity to present results in a relaxed setting. This can include presentations by departmental visitors, students `practicing' a talk which they will give at an upcoming conference etc. One aspect of this series is the pizzas which are delivered prior to each meeting, thus the name Pizza Lunch. Slices of pizza are available at the cost of $2 per slice.

We strongly encourage students to give one pizza-lunch presentation a year to update their committee and the department on the stage of their research, especially after you transition from classes to research. If you are taking research credits via ASTR 598 (see below), you will be expected to make a presentation as part of the class. It may be helpful to get formal feedback on pizza lunch presentations: if so, a template feedback form is available here.



Seminar class

ASTR 500, referred to as `Seminar class', is a 1 credit class in which first and second year students registered each of their first four semesters. This class meets weekly, at which time one of the registered students will present a talk on material covered in an assigned paper. This paper is assigned by the faculty member overseeing Seminar for that semester. Generally, there will be a particular theme for the semester. These seminar presentations are open to the entire department, and faculty and third-year and above students are encouraged to attend and participate in the discussions.

Different faculty have different philosophies of what style of seminar is most beneficial, but the general idea of seminar is to get some exposure to subject material that may not be covered in classes, and to get experience with presenting material to a group of people.

Research group meetings

Some of the research groups have regular meetings to discuss a variety of topics within their research area:

Students can be the prime drivers of research group meetings, so if you are interested in something that isn't happening, start it!

Tea time

We traditionally have held a tea time once per week, where different department members rotate bringing in some sort of treat for everybody to share, along with coffee and tea provided by the Department. Please sign up when the announcement goes out.

Tea time is an informal opportunity for people to get together and discuss any variety of topics.

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Jon Holtzman 2019-08-23