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.

2018 Physics Graduate Student Orientation Week Schedule (subject to changes throughout summer!)

Monday, August 20
Department Chari and Mentor Welcome!
9:00 am -- Compton 245
Welcome to the new student orientation! Monday is a full day, starting with an introduction from the mentors.

Graduate School Orientation
9:45 am - 6:00 pm -- St. Louis Zoo (Transportation provided, buses meet at the DUC)
Please attend this mandatory Arts and Science Graduate School orientation. Register in Tisch Commons before boarding the bus.

Pick-up Diagnostic Exams
6:00 pm -- Tisch Commons fireplace
Students will pick up the diagnostic exams and PhD students can sign up for advising meetings.

Tuesday, August 21
International Student Orientation
9:30 am - 11:30 am -- Stix International House (6470 Forsyth Boulevard)

Informal Party with Mentors
6:00 pm (physics) or 6:30 pm (Kelsey's)
Come enjoy food and fun along the lines of bean bags, washers, etc. Feel free to bring any significant others. Pointer's pizza will be served!
Wednesday, August 22
TA Orientation
8:30am-2:00pm -- 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.

Campus Services Overview, Campus Tour/Card Services
2:15 pm - 4:00 pm -- Compton 241
Learn about the campus services, hear our hints about getting around town. We will end with a tour of campus and stop by card services to get student IDs.

Dinner at Three Kings on the Loop
6:16 pm (Compton 245) or 6:30 (restaurant)
Enjoy free dinner at a local restaurant on the Loop.

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 one of the mentors.
Thursday, August 23

Library Orientation/Photos with Ady/Computer Orientation
10:00 am -- 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. Also get you department pictures taken and learn about the Department's computer setups and services.

Frisbee on Mudd Field
3:15 pm - 4:30 pm -- Crow 220
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 Tropicana Lanes
6:30 pm -- Physics loading dock
Come study rotational motion, slippage and momentum transfer. Just kidding, come bowl with fellow physics students. 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 maps/rides are available.
Friday, August 24
Friday BBQ
Meet at 12:00pm -- 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. $1 buys all you can eat! 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!

Volleyball at Shaw Park
6:30 pm -- Physics loading dock
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. A ride home can be provided if you wish to leave earlier.
Saturday, August 25

City Museum and Ted Drewes Frozen Custard
6:30 pm -- Physics loading docks (please be on time!)
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, consider bringing knee pads, 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 $7. 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 Ted Drewes' Frozen Custard (please bring your own money for the delicious post-City-Museum snack!).
Sunday, August 26
Pool Party
1:45 pm (physics) 2:00 pm (Luis') -- Luis' apartment
Come out and join us for some relaxation by the pool. Some snacks will be provided, please bring your own towel.

Dinner and Games/Movies/Fun
6:00 pm -- Compton 241/Compton 245
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 dinner, you MUST be present by 6pm.
Monday, August 27
Department Pot Luck Lunch and Games in the Quad
Meet at 12:00pm -- 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

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:

Kelsey Meinerz
5th 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
5th 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
4th 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. Some of my favorite things in the area are the City Museum, Kali the polar bear at the zoo, Clementine's Creamery, and Modern Brewery. When not studying, which is probably too often, my hobbies include reading (currently Ulysses by Joyce), watching movies and TV shows (Currently The Leftovers), and playing board games.
Sabrina Chen
4th 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
4th 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
4th 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
3rd 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
3rd 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
3rd year
Protein Biophysics
(Prof. Pappu)
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!
Natália Calleya
3rd year
Nuclear 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 :)
Lindsey Lisalda
2nd year
(Prof. Krawczynski)
I was born and raised here in St. Louis and now live in St. Peters (about 30 miles west), so I'm quite familiar with the metro area. For my undergraduate I studied astrophysics at the University of Missouri-St. Louis where I did research on the radial velocities of young stars, was a peer mentor, and ran the UMSL observatory. Studying astrophysics means I do a lot more reading and coding than stargazing but living so far from the city still allows me to step outside with my telescope and unwind for a bit. When I'm not studying or staring off into space I'm usually hanging out with my family or spending slightly more time than I should playing video games. If you ever find yourself wanting to chat about grad school, space stuff, or life in general feel free to email me or stop by my desk!
Andrew West
2nd year
(Prof. Krawczynski)
I am a prototypical Saint Louisan, I've lived here almost all of my life and know the city inside and out. I began my collegiate career at CU Boulder where I studied astrophysics and physics. For reasons that are not all that interesting, I decided to take a break from school to do some manual labor (zero stars, do NOT recommend) and explore the country before finishing up my bachelors here at Wash U in Mathematics. In my spare time I like to write incredibly depressing music, drink beers on patios, hang out with my dog, and go on adventures in the great outdoors. I also like feeding people, so expect to see me at our weekly BBQs and Nerdsgiving in the fall! If you have any questions about the trials that await you in your first year, the best spots to eat and drink in the city, or you just want to chat about life, the universe, and whatever, don't hesitate to holler at me!
Wolfgang Zober
2nd year
Quantum Information
(Prof. Murch)
Hello there! I'm from California, Pennsylvania which is a small town about an hour south of Pittsburgh. I did my undergrad at Wheeling Jesuit University, which is a tiny college in northern West Virginia. While I was there I majored in physics and math and minored in theology. Currently, I'm in Dr. Murch's quantum information group. In my spare time, I like to listen to and (if I have the time) play music, read, and play intramural sports. I'm glad you're joining us. I hope you enjoy your time here and if you need anything feel free to reach out.

Augusto Medeiros
Mentor Emeritus
∞ 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.

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