PHYS 348 -- Frontiers in Physics
Fall Term 2021
|Class: || Tuesdays & Thursdays 14:00-15:30, in person!!
| Professor: || Janis McKenna
|E-mail: || firstname.lastname@example.org
My email most often gets read and answered evenings between 10pm and 1am.
|Office Hours: ||
Office Hours will be on Zoom: 4-5pm Wednesdays. Or by appointment. Zoom link is available inside Lecture 1 notes and in Canvas
|Webpage: || http://www.physics.ubc.ca/~janis/Courses/348
(this is it)
|CANVAS Learning Management System: || http://canvas.ubc.ca
Login with your Campus Wide Login (CWL), then choose PHYS 348 Frontiers in Physics.
|Text: || No textbook; notes will be handed out and electronic resources will be used. They will be posted in CANVAS
This course will be done in a combination of lecture/seminar style and our goal is to develop
research and communication skills, while exploring current "hot" research topics in
physics/astronomy. We'll start off working on our scientific research literacy and effective
scientific communications skills. Then the course will turn more seminar-style, as students
collectively select a few interesting research topics to explore.
Each student will choose two research topics. For one of these topics, you'll make an oral presentation to
the class and write a scientific paper. For the other topic, you'll do a poster presentation (we'll have 3 poster session classes)
and write a popular science style article.
By the end of the course, students
should feel that they have the skills necessary to read and comprehend published scientific
refereed research articles, give scientific presentations, write scientific reports and have experience with
poster presentations, similar to those you may present at a scientific conference, or a progress/project report at
a high tech firm.
Students will have experience performing the background investigations and reviews scientists typically
perform at the beginning of a research projects: students taking the
PHYS 349 project, PHYS 449 thesis, co-op job projects, independant studies, MSc project will be well
prepared to embark on research of their own. Students will have studied and
reviewed two current (appropriate) physics or astronomy research topics of their choice, made
an oral presentation and a poster presentation.
Students will have written a short scientific review article and a
newspaper/popular science style article on these research topics.
Student participation is essential in all aspects of the course.
Majors students will be well prepared for PHYS 349/ASTR 349 - Directed Studies in Physics/Astronomy (Majors research project)
Honours students will be well-prepared for PHYS 449/ASTR449 - Honours Thesis (Honours research project)
All should find this to be useful preparation for your next career step.
- We'll be spending
most of September learning research skills, learning how to prepare our
talks/presentations and how to write technical papers.
- We'll develop research skills and use of library resources (including
electronic resources and journals)
- We will have one class on library research skills done at the UBC Library (in
standard classtime), and will examine how to research a scientific topic.
- Learn effective communication skills - Most physics graduates will go on to careers in
industry, teaching or academia
where we will write technical reports and/or scientific publications, and
present our work in business meetings or at conferences. We will spend several classes
on technical writing and scientific presentation skills and will examine how to write (and
publish) a scientific paper.
- You'll learn and practice using either LaTeX or
Word You will prepare your 2nd paper in the format required by an actual physics journal.
Exploration of Current "HOT" Research Topics
Student participation is crucial to this course: Students assess other's presentations and posters, and discuss readings.
Students are required to email me in advance to explain any absences.
- One major goal of this course is to explore current, interesting physics
and astronomy research.
- The professor and one or two invited speakers will
visit to give short talks on current research in a range
of phys/astro fields, in industrial/applied physics, or academic research in
physics/astronomy and closely related fields.
- I'll be doing a few short classes on current research topics not covered by guests.
- Check out the Physics
and Astronomy Department Colloquia and take advantage of world experts whom we invite
to visit our department to share their research with us. Students are always welcome to all these guest
visitors colloquia and seminars (and to the coffee/tea and cookies preceeding each colloquium)
- Each student will select two topics he/she wishes to research and share with the class.
- Each student will write two term papers, and give an oral presentation
and a poster presentation.
- The class size is typically small enough for discussion - all
students are expected to participate in discussions and critique/analyse readings
The above grading scheme applies ONLY to students who have completed all four main course components: Both presentations, both papers.
Any students who have not completed all four main components will fail the course, and their final mark will be the LOWER of:
( the calculated mark using the above scheme, or 47%) - whichever is lower. ie you cannot PASS this course if you omit any of
the presentations or papers.)
| No Final Exam
| || 20% 5 assignments, 4% each
| || 3% Reading Quizzes (online in UBC Canvas)
| || 15% Term Research Paper 1 (shorter review paper in form of an in-depth newspaper article)
| || 20% Term Research Paper 2 (publication-style research review paper)
| || 15% Poster Presentation
| || 15% Seminar Presentation
| || 7% Participation in discussions, and on quality of written feedback and assessments
of your peers' presentations and posters.
| || 5% Midterm Exam
PHYS 348 in CANVAS
Class and lecture materials, course handouts, assignments, schedules, class
bulletin/discussion board, homework, your grades/progress, and other useful docs will all be in the new UBC CANVAS
Learning Management System, as materials are available. Reading Quizzes will be done online in Canvas.
Student Presentations, Posters and Papers
- The student seminars are a chance for you to investigate
and share with your classmates two physics/astronomy research topics of your choice.
- Each student seminar will tentatively be an 18-minute seminar-type
presentation to the class, followed by 5-8 minutes discussion and
questions. (I will adjust the exact times when I have final enrolment level)
All students will participate in evaluations (marks) for all
presentations - including your own! (Writing down your feedback -and assigning yourself a
mark - for your own presentations will prove to be very helpful when you write your papers)
- Your research papers will be will be based on your presentations.
- The first paper will be a newspaper-style popular science article based on your poster presentation
- The second paper will be a term paper done in the style of a
publishable scientific review paper, based on your oral presentation.
- The student presentations will take place in class starting at the beginning of October.
The assignments and supplemental material to help you with them are available in
CANVAS for PHYS 348. Five assignments are to be done in hardcopy and handed in on the due dates.
Both papers must be submitted via TurnItIn
At the beginning of the course, handouts and short papers and backgrounder information which will help you
with the course material and the assignments. These reference materials will be available early in the
term and will remain on the CANVAS site until the end of the course.
Students are expected to read advance handouts in preparation for the following class.
General Resources, the UBC Library and Journals
Please share other materials which you think may be of interest to the class
You're A Member of the Physics Community
As a senior in physics/astronomy, you should think about being a participant and a member in our
national and international physics communities. Fortunately, both the Canadian and American national
physics associations realize that the great developments and advances of the next few decades
will be made by physicists who are now young students, just like you.
So you may join these physics communities absolutely free of charge:
- The Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) offers
free CAP membership/affiliateship
to undergraduate students as long as they are enrolled in an undergraduate physics
program at a Canadian university.
- Consider writing a book review for CAP
and get it published in an upcoming edition of Physics in Canada, (published by the CAP)
You also get to keep the book in appreciation for your work as a book reviewer. Read some of the book reviews yourself.
- Come practice for, then participate in the Annual CAP
University Prize Exam. The exam is held every year in February, and you can join in
the practice sessions (at which you will enjoy free pop and pizza while you and your friends/colleagues
work out some interesting and sometimes quite challenging physics problems). Each year, typically 2 or 3 UBC
students place in the top 10 Canada-wide... some were students in this PHYS 348 class.
- The American Physical Society also offers free
memberships to students on a one-year free trial basis, then offers you heavily subsidized membership
after that, as long as you are still a student (undergrad or grad).
When you join the APS, be sure to also join (free with APS membership)
the Northwest Section of the APS (it's just an extra
box you tick off on your APS membership application), because they run a great annual meeting
each year within a good road trip of UBC. This year the
annual APS Northwest Section Meeting will be held
nearby in beautiful Kamloops at Thompson River University. Consider presenting work from your co-op work terms or
summer research or thesis at this meeting - it's a wonderful setting for presenting your first-ever conferene presentation
(poster or short talk) at a conference. Note: Most students who submit
an abstract for a poster or oral presentation and who apply by teh deadline will get a Travel Award to participate in this meeting.
We often have a UBC carpool driving to the annual APSNW meeting each year.
Present your work at a Conference
Your experience with poster and oral presentations in this
PHYS 348 course prepares you to present at conferences/meetings.
Many of us have interesting results to present from a recent co-op workterm, from a summer research job,
or research in your PHYS/ASTR 349/449 research thesis.
The following conferences/meetings are all student-friendly and encourage poster or short oral research presentations
from students. Those of you who have co-op or summer work research are encouraged to participate.
BE SURE TO FIRST GET AN OK FROM YOUR BOSS/SUPERVISOR if you would like to present work done in industry
or within a research group.
- UBC hosts an annual
Multidisciplinary Undergraduate Research Conference (MURC)
in March each year -
If you want to present a poster or very short talk, application
deadline is normally in November. A fantastic opportunity to present your co-op work or summer research.
- THis year was the 2nd time UBC ran an
Undergraduate 3 Minute Thesis Competition for students doing a directed studies or honours thesis course.
They plan to do another this year. (The first year resulted in 2 tied winners, one was a 4th year PHAS student)
- The next
Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) Congress will be held nearby
at McMaster University in June 2022. Huge conference and there
are awards for best student posters and oral presentations.
- The next APSNW 2022 meeting
will be held at location TBA - This meeting is held in May each year.
APSNW is one of the best conferences for a senior undergraduate student or a new grad student
to present their work. The APS Northwest Region annual meeting are always within driving distance of Vancouver (OK
sometimes it's a 10 hour drive to Oregon, Idaho or Alberta, but a good road trip nevertheless!)
The Northwest Section of the APS offers travel subsidies to undergraduate
students presenting at the conference, so your travel, registration and often most of your local accommodation
are covered for students who apply early for Student Travel Awards.
Come see me if you'd like to be nominated/recmmended for one of these travel awards for this, or any conference.
- The Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference (CUPC)
was hosted online by Ryerson University. I don't know yet who is hosting it this year..
This is the BIG annual undergrad Physics in Canada conference. PHYSSOC usually organizes
a UBC group/team to go to CUPC
and usually manages to get partial/modest travel subsidies for participants.
- UBC PHYSSOC hosted CUPC here at UBC in 2012 and also in 1997, 1980, and 1971.
Janis McKenna, UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy, August 2021
email me at email@example.com