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The Berkeley Connect program opens up the extraordinary resources of the university to you: the extraordinary students on our campus. By joining, you will become part of a community of like-minded faculty, mentors, and students that will provide a supportive environment in which to exchange and discuss ideas and goals. Berkeley Connect will help you to make the most of your time at the university as you learn more about the major in Physics. We’re excited to get to know you!

Message from the Director

Bernard SadouletBerkeley Connect is a mentoring program within the physics department that is accepting undergraduate students at all levels. The goals of the program are to help students develop understanding, community, and career preparedness that goes beyond what traditional courses provide. Interactions with graduate students and faculty will play a large role throughout the semester. The course is a small seminar class led by a physics graduate student. Some of the meetings will include:

  • Visits to research labs on campus and at the national labs to talk to faculty, scientists, and grad students
  • Preparing students for a broad range of career trajectories including ones outside of academia
  • Discussions of science in the news and science and society
  • Resources for finding research opportunities on campus, REUs, internships
  • Developing skills that will make you an attractive candidate for undergraduate research
  • Exploration of the idea of scientific models
  • Building a community of physics student scientists

Berkeley Connect is a 1-credit seminar course that meets once a week for one hour. It is designed to be very low workload but have large benefits for undergraduates.

Professor Bernard Sadoulet

Faculty Director, Berkeley Connect in Physics

Program Description

Berkeley Connect links undergraduate students with experienced mentors in Physics. These mentors lead small groups of 10-20 students in regular meetings; they also meet with students one-on-one to provide guidance and advice. The core of the Berkeley Connect program is a one-credit, pass-fail course that is designed to create a community of students with similar intellectual interests. There is no homework associated with Berkeley Connect: no exams, no papers, no quizzes. Instead, small group meetings focus on sharing ideas and learning new skills within the Physics major as a way to foster friendships and provide a supportive intellectual community for Berkeley undergraduates.The only requirement for joining Berkeley Connect in Physics is that you have an interest in the field of study. You do not have to be a major in order to participate! Undeclared freshmen and sophomores are welcome, along with entering junior transfers and juniors and seniors who have declared the major.

Every semester, Berkeley Connect sponsors a wide range of activities and events for participating students.  They include:

  • small-group meetings led by your mentor;
  • one-on-one meetings with your mentor;
  • special events, including informal lectures by professors and guest speakers, and panels on career options, graduate school admissions, and other topics;
  • and visits to Berkeley resources.

At the heart of Berkeley Connect is the relationship between you and your mentor. The Berkeley Connect mentors are advanced graduate students or recent PhDs in Physics, who are chosen both for their demonstrated commitment to undergraduates and for their scholarly achievement. They are dedicated to providing the kind of close-knit community and one-on-one attention that can be hard to find at a large university.

When you sign up for Berkeley Connect, you will join one of several small groups of participants in Physics. Your small group will be led by your mentor, and will meet every other week during the semester for an hour-long dinner discussion sessions. Discussions will focus on key intellectual issues within Physics as well as key skills you need to succeed in the major. Above all, the small groups will focus on building connections among students, so that each group becomes a supportive community for all participants.

You will also meet with your mentor one-on-one at least twice during the semester, once to get acquainted, and a second time just before Tele-Bears, to discuss your plans for completing your major. Your mentor also has office hours every other week, during which you are free to show up and ask questions, talk over your day or your week, discuss what you are learning in class, or just have an informal conversation.


Bernard Sadoulet (Director),
Bernard Sadouleta graduate of Ecole Polytechnique (1963) and a “Docteur es Sciences” of Paris-Orsay University (1971), is by training an elementary particle physicist. As such, he had the chance of participating in two prestigious experiments which led to Nobel Prizes: the Mark I experiment at SLAC which discovered the J/y, the t lepton and the charm, and UA1 at CERN which discovered the intermediate vector bosons W and Z. In 1984 he decided to shift his efforts towards particle astrophysics and cosmology. In 1985 he was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and from 1989 to 2001 he was the Director of the Center for Particle Astrophysics, one of the 11 first generation Science and Technology Centers of the National Science Foundation. He is currently Director of the UC system-wide Institute for Nuclear and Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (INPAC). You can learn more about his research here: http://www.physics.berkeley.edu/research/faculty/Sadoulet.html

Holger Müller
Holger Muellersuccessfully applied for his first patent when he was 14. Later, he did his undergraduate thesis with Jürgen Mlynek at the University of Konstanz, Germany. He graduated from Humboldt-University, Berlin, with Achim Peters as advisor. Müller received a fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation and joined the group of Steven Chu in Stanford as a postdoc. In July 2008, he joined the Physics faculty at UC Berkeley as an Assistant Professor. You can learn more about his research here: http://www.physics.berkeley.edu/research/faculty/mueller.html

Berkeley Connect Mentors

Jonny Cookmeyer is a second-year Physics graduate student, born and raised in North Carolina and a graduate from Haverford College (a small liberal arts school in the suburbs of Philadelphia). In addition to being interested in many aspects of theoretical condensed matter physics, Jonny enjoys playing Ultimate, hiking, speedcubing, and playing piano. They are excited to participate in the Berkeley Connect program to get to know, mentor, and assist a group of undergrads while helping them navigate the scientific community here at Berkeley and beyond.

Crystal NoelCrystal Noel is a sixth-year graduate student in Physics with a concentration in Applied Science and Technology. Her research is in trapped ions for quantum computing applications. She has been involved on campus as a physics instructor, the Wellness Fund committee chair, and a Graduate Assembly delegate. Crystal helps manage her lab’s Twitter account and likes to plan fun outings like picnics and trips to the beach. She is excited to help undergraduates connect with the physics community.

Paul Riggins is a sixth-year graduate student in Physics, working with Surjeet Rajendran on high energy phenomenology. Besides playing with physics, Paul enjoys mentoring, singing, and thinking about games. He is excited to support the Berkeley undergraduate community and have awesome conversations about life and science.

Miguel Zumalacarregui is a postdoctoral fellow at the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His research aims at understanding the mysterious components making up 95% of the universe (dark energy and dark matter) using techniques like gravitational waves, supernovae, the large-scale distribution of galaxies, and other astronomical observations. He’s also very interested in science outreach, and loves to cook, read and hike in his free time. He is excited to be part of Berkeley Connect and discuss about how to get the most out of education, science and life.

Semester Activities

Curriculum as of 1/24/18

 We will keep this Syllabus up to date!

  • Goals and outcomes

1.1.  Goals

  • Combine the resources of a major research university with the intellectual atmosphere and the close-knit community of a liberal art college
  • Meaningful conversations about Science, Physics and Society
  • Making implicit the “hidden curriculum” (e.g., intellectual habits—striving to understand deeply, critical thinking, links to other concepts, orders of magnitudes, mathematical representations etc.—) that we expect our students to pick up through their formal courses
  • Engaging Berkeley Connect students in a learning community and getting them involved in the various activities of the Department: Research, Teaching, Public Service
  • Provide support and mentorship through their peers, the Fellows and Department Faculty.

1.2.  Learning outcomes

  • Active participation in learning and consolidation of intellectual habits of a scholar
  • Ability to integrate what is learned in formal courses into a broad view of Science, Physics and Society
  • Clear view of career options and steps to be taken in the following years
  • Active engagement in the department: Research, Teaching, Outreach
  • Ability to take advantages of mentoring opportunities:  Berkeley Connect Fellows, Faculty, peers
  • Strong sense of belonging and enthusiasm for Science/Physics.

1.3.   Quantitative outcomes

  • Significant changes on surveys gauging attitude towards science
  • Increased participation in research, teaching and outreach
  • Increase in the number of majors, in particular for underrepresented student categories and reduction of dropout rates.
  • Increase in grad schools admissions, teaching positions and industry jobs.


  • Organization

This course is designed for 4 semesters for entering freshmen and 2 semesters for Transfer students. The activities will be organized around 4 themes: Science and Physics; How to get involved?; Life as a young scientist; Science and Society. The detailed topics will vary from year to year, striving to cover the most important topics over 4 semesters (two for lower division, two for upper division).

The overarching theme for this semester will be “Variety of Physics”.

Roughly every other week, the students will meet in 50 minutes  “sections” of 15- 20 people with a Berkeley Connect fellow. These sections will be on Tuesday through Thursday between 4:00 and 6:00 p.m .  Food will be provided. The typical format of a section will be 10’ check in (how things are going?) and 40’ of discussions on the theme of the section, in a mix of smaller group discussions and general discussion. There will not be lecturing by the Fellow, nor homework, but typically less than half hour readings will be suggested to prepare for the class. Food will be served. Section attendance is compulsory (apart from medical reasons) and attendance will be taken. There are currently 4 sections for lower division students, 2 for upper division and 2 for transfer students.

The alternating weeks will be devoted to panel discussions, local visits, and participation once a semester in departmental colloquium or public lecture. To accommodate the diversity of schedules, we will have panel discussions usually alternating between Tuesdays 5-6pm, Wednesdays 5-6pm and Fridays 4-5pm. These events will be open to the whole department. Berkeley Connect Students will be required to attend in person at least 50% of these events (i.e. 4 minimum) and to review the webcast if they cannot after the panels/seminar. Attendance will be taken! Visits will be organized through Doodle polls. We will have a field trip, likely to a Silicon Valley location.

Berkeley Connect students will be required to meet one-on-one with Fellows twice a semester.

Once the list of department colloquia or special seminars is known, we will choose one that we will advise Berkeley Students to attend.


  • Implementation Spring 2018

Time of the sections

Physics 98 BC

Tuesday 4-5 251 LeConte, Micah Brush

Wednesday 5-6 251 LeConte, Paul Riggins

Thursday 5-6 251 LeConte, Miguel Zumalacarregui

Physics 198 BC


Tuesday 5-6 251 LeConte, Micah Brush

Wednesday 4-5 251 LeConte, Paul Riggins

Thursday 4-5 251 LeConte, Miguel Zumalacarregui


Orientation:  Two orientations to maximize attendance

Thursday  January 18 12:30-1:30 pm 375 LeConte  (Food available, presentation starts at 12:40).

Friday January 19 12:00-1:00 pm 375 LeConte (Food available, presentation starts at 12:10)

Goals of the course

Goals of the students (small group discussion)

Meeting the Fellows and Faculty in charge


3.1.   Science and Physics

3.1.1.     Week 2, Sections January 23- 25: A career as a scientist

The sections of Thursday are exceptionally to Thursday Feb 1 (Miguel is out of town)

Lower division:  How does one become a physicist?

Transfer, Upper division: Share about current plans for career.


3.1.2.     Week 3, General event: Scientist Panel

Wednesday January 31, 5-6 pm 251 LeConte: Panel discussion with scientists from UC Berkeley and LBNL: How did you become a scientist? What do you do? How did you evolve to your current focus?

One-on-one meetings in weeks 3 and 4

3.1.3.     Week 4, Sections February 6-8: What makes an activity science? Key aspects of the Scientific Methods and the Culture of Science. Norms and practices scientists agree are essential to rigorous scientific investigation.


3.2.   How to get actively involved in Science?

Goals: encourage Berkeley Connect students to be actively engaged in the department: research, teaching/tutoring/mentoring, student organizations etc…

3.2.1.     Week 5, General event: Lab tours

Berkeley lab visits (Campus, LBNL, SSL) to take place throughout the semester. Approximately 4 visits with bCourses scheduling.

3.2.2.     Week 6, Sections February 20-21: Getting involved

Lower division: Strategies to get involved.

Transfer and Upper division: Getting involved in research and/or teaching

3.2.3.     Week 7, General event: Oppenheimer Lecture

What Happened Before The Big Bang and Other Big Questions About The Universe, Michael Turner

Monday, February 26, 2018 – 5:30pm. Chevron Auditorium at International House.


3.3.   Life as a young scientist

Goals: Introduce students to the excitement and challenges of the life of scientists and the importance of communication.

3.3.1.     Week 8, Sections March 6-8: Fellows share with the class his/her research, the excitement and the challenges


3.4.  Science and Society

Goals: Help students reflect on the relation of Science, in particular Physics and Society: Scientific analysis of societal issues; Impact of technology; Intersection of Science and Culture.

3.4.1.     Week 9.

General event TBD

3.4.2.     Week 10, Sections March 20-22: Discussion of a Science and Society problem

3.4.3.     Spring Break, March 26-30     Week 11: General event:

Visit of a technology company TBA     Week 11: General event: Friday, April 6, 2:00pm (375 LeConte): 2018 Undergraduate Poster Session (to be confirmed)

3.4.5     Week 12 , General event: Outside Academia Panel

Thursday, April 12 5-6pm (251 LeConte): Panel on science outside academia: industry, K-12 education, journalism and finance.

How did you become a scientist? What do you do? How did you evolve to your current focus?

3.4.6     Week 13, Visit to Berkeley Art Museum

3.5.    Week 14: ConclusionsSections April 24-26: Progress in becoming a scientist. Feedback on class. Short attitude survey (same as in first section to attempt to measure evolution).


Saturday, April 28: Exploratorium visit


To find sections in the upcoming semester, search the Schedule of Classes for Physics 98BC (for first-year and sophomores) or 198BC (for juniors and seniors).To help you meet other students who share your experiences and perspectives, Berkeley Connect sections are designated as lower division (first-year students and sophomores), new junior transfers, and upper division (juniors and seniors), but you can enroll in any section that fits your schedule and credit requirements.

How to Sign Up

To participate in Berkeley Connect in Physics, you enroll in a designated section of Physics 98BC or 198BC (one unit, taken on a Pass/Not Pass basis). Many students chose to enroll for more than one semester. Participation is NOT restricted to declared majors.To sign up, enroll in a Berkeley Connect section when course registration opens.  Please see the Berkeley Connect sections listed above under “Schedule.”

**Read the schedule notes carefully—different sections are designated as primarily for lower-division (freshmen and sophomores), upper-division (juniors and seniors), or junior transfer students.

If you are interested in participating in Berkeley Connect, but course registration is not currently open, you can join the Berkeley Connect Mailing List, and you will be sent more details when the next semester’s information becomes available.

Contact Us

Please see our FAQs. If you have additional questions about Berkeley Connect in Physics, please contact: Bernard Sadoulet, Faculty Director, sadoulet@berkeley.edu

You can also contact the central Berkeley Connect office  at berkeleyconnect@berkeley.edu or (510)664-4182.

Links & Resources