Fall 2019,  PHY 598 Graduate Seminar

AMO and Condensed Matter Physics


Meeting Days and Times: Instructors:
Th 4:00-5:20 pm
Room ESS 069

Dominik Schneble, A-106, Office hours: tbd

Marivi Fernandez-Serra, B-139, Office hours: tbd

Vladimir Litvinenko, D-102, Office hours: tbd

Seminar schedule:
August 29
September 5
September 12
September 19
ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING SELECT TOPIC [first meetings w/ instructors]
speaker 1
      speaker 2

speaker 3

speaker 4
September 26
October 3
October 10
October 17
October 24
October 31
November 7
November 21
November 28 [no classes]
December 5





course webpage: http://ultracold.physics.sunysb.edu/Courses/PHY598-19.Fall/
Check regularly for updates
  • Pick a topic within the first week (list of topics: see below)
  • Write an abstract and submit to Prof. Schneble 7 days ahead of your talk
  • Give a 15-minute conference-style talk on the day assigned
  • Email slides to Prof. Schneble within one week after your talk (must be in pdf format)
  • Attend all seminars
  • Talk (contents and form) and abstract: 85%
  • Attendance and activity (asking the speakers good questions, participating in discussions): 15%.


The purpose of this course is to give graduate students early in their career experience with the vital skill of giving professional talks. One very important aspect of this is to choose the level of your talk based upon your own level of knowledge and the level expected of your audience. As (mostly) first year graduate students, we expect that you are not at a level of preparation that you would have giving a talk at a professional conference.  You will be graded on content and presentation, but the grade on content is more on consistency and "absence of holes" than on the level per se (high school college graduate student faculty world expert). Do not include in your talk any material that you do not actually understand.

Rule of thumb: If you don't mention something in your talk, it is impolite for someone in the audience to ask you a question about it. Whatever you do mention in your talk is fair game for questions. If you mention something you do not understand, you are opening Pandora's Box and should expect to run into trouble. This happens all the time at professional meetings.

Your talk (Powerpoint or pdf) should be planned to take a total of 15 minutes. Five more minutes will be used for questions and comments.   Make sure to rehearse your talk (several times!) so that you know your timing is right.  It is a cardinal sin of giving a talk to run over time.

To use the projctor in the seminar room, you should bring your own laptop computer, borrow one from a friend, or sign out one of the "loaner" laptop computers from Joe Feliciano in the Instructional Lab Room, A-131, during normal working hours. You can practice your talk in the Graduate Student Lounge on the A level "bridge" between Physics and "Old Physics." A desktop computer is there permanently hooked up to a computer projector. It is not connected to the internet, so you must bring the file of your talk to it on a USB stick. A pull-down projection screen is available for displaying the projected image.

You must make an appointment to meet with your instructor (as assigned) one week prior to the day you are scheduled to give your talk in class. At that meeting you will be expected to show a preliminary version of your talk to the instructor. Before that, you should already have given a (pre-)preliminary version of your talk to a trial audience, e.g., fellow students. The comments you get from both your trial audience and the instructor will be helpful for making changes before you give your talk "for real."

After your talk, your slides (convert into pdf) will be posted on the course webpage until the end of the semester.

List of topics:
Topics are available from the APS online journal "Physics" (http://physics.aps.org/), which highlights a selection of papers from the Physical Review journals. Note that there is a separate category for AMO physics, while topics in condensed-matter physics are distributed over several categories. Topics chosen have to be from the past 24 months.

Choose a topic by September 5, and enter your choice into the Google Doc for which the instructors will email you a link

Choice of topics will be first come first served.  Two students may not choose the same topic (note that some of the topics may be closely related and therefore may count as the same).

Learning Outcomes:
Students who completed this course should (1) be able to give a talk on phenomena in atomic and condensed-matter physics, without the requirement of  an advanced understanding of the background meterial, (2) be able to compose slides for this talk, and (3) be able to critique the talks of other students.

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