FIU Department of Physics

First-Year Physics Seminar
PHY 1033

Wednesdays, 11am - noon
HLS 190


Dr. Laird Kramer
Laird.Kramer at
CP 211

Dr. Caroline Simpson
simpsonc at
CP 217A

Course Information

This weekly seminar course will introduce you to a variety of research fields in physics, especially those pursued here in our Physics Department. You will meet and talk with several physics faculty, as well as your fellow physics students and graduate students. There will be informal presentations by faculty and graduate students, and several senior undergraduate physics majors. You will learn how to make the most of your physics education at FIU, physics career options, and how physics research is done.

One goal of this experience is to help you make the most of your physics degree. A second goal is to encourage scientific discourse throughout your life. We will ask for feedback throughout the course, but feel free to let us know anytime how to improve the course.

Attendance: This is a seminar course and need your input to be successful. Attendance is therefore required and counts towards your grade. You may have one excused absence during the term.

Contributing to the Discussions: This is an informal discussion-based course, so you must not only come to the class, but you must also contribute to the discussions. Contributing includes posing questions, answering questions, and offering opinions, as well as several assignments that will be given out in class.

Seminar Surveys: We will encourage scientific discourse throughout the course by asking you to fill out one-page surveys each week. The goal of the survey is to get you to think about the topic, they should take only a short time to complete. To encourage your participation, surveys will be completed each week and handed in. A sample of the surveys will be graded. Each will be worth ten points, assigning grades as:

Surveys will be handed out weekly in class.

Interviews: One of the goals of the course is to meet people in the physics department. To encourage that, everyone will interview at least one person in the department and relay their story to the rest of the class. You may interview faculty, researchers, and graduate students. We'll provide a list of candidates, each person may only be interviewed by one person. There are two ways to share your knowledge: 1) introducing faculty speakers during their talk to the class, 2) emailing your comments to the class email list. An example of speaker etiquette will be illustrated during the second week of class.

Email List: An email list will be created to distribute information on the course and encourage group discussion. Your FIU email will be added to the list. You may also request that your favorite addresses be added.

Grading: The grade breakdown is:



Discussion / Assignments


Seminar Surveys


Interesting Links: Here are links to several professional organizations. They have useful information about careers, topics, meetings, recent discoveries...

American Physical Society:
American Institute of Phyics:
American Astronomical Society:
American Association of Physics Teachers:
Physics Central:


Date Topic Location

Aug 25


HLS 190

Sept 2

Faculty Talk: Simpson/Kramer

HLS 190
Sept 9

4 Color Universe

HLS 190
Sept 16

4 Color Universe

HLS 190

Sept 23

Faculty Talk

HLS 190

Sept 30

Careers with Physics: I can make money HOW?

HLS 190

Oct 7

Faculty Talk

HLS 190

Oct 14

Graduate School? How does that work?

HLS 190
Oct 21

Debrief: Jobs/Grad School

HLS 190

Oct 28

Faculty talk

HLS 190

Nov 4

REUs: Summer Fun

HLS 190

Nov 11

No class: Veterans' Day

Nov 18

What I want to be when I grow up

HLS 190

Nov 25

Alignment of Chakras

HLS 190
Dec 2

Surprise (even to us...)

HLS 190

*Schedule subject to change