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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


  • Attend weekly meetings (small-group and large-group events and mentoring meetings). Note that small-group meetings are at your designated time and large-group meetings are at times announced on the
  • Field Trip(s) to: (i) the Bancroft Library; (ii) the Berkeley Art Museum; (iii) a movie at the Pacific Film Archive; or (iv) a talk in the Philosophy
  • Fill out a questionnaire at the end of the

Attendance policy:

In order to receive a pass, you must satisfy all of the following:

  • you must attend both meetings with your mentor;
  • you must not miss more than two small-group sessions;
  • you must attend two large-group sessions OR one large-group session and one Field Trip OR two Field Trips;
  • you must fill out the end-of-semester

Sessions start on the hour, not on “Berkeley time”. This is so that everyone can get food and discussion can begin by 10 after the hour.

Week 1 (Jan 23): Welcome, WEDNESDAY 7-8 pm, Howison Library, Moses Hall (3rd Floor)

Welcome meeting

Hearing about the program; meeting your mentor

Week 2 (Jan 28-30): Introductory Meeting

Small group meeting

Goals for the semester; getting to know each other; navigating the university

Week 3 (Feb 4-8): Mentoring

One-on-one mentoring meeting

Initial meeting; getting to know you

Week 4 (Feb 11-13): What Is Philosophy?

Small group meeting

Discussion questions: What is philosophy? Why should we study it? What got you interested in philosophy? What are some examples of philosophical problems? What is the value to society of what we do, as philosophers?

Week 5 (Feb. 21): Study Break, THURSDAY, 4-6 pm, 301 Moses Hall

Week 6 (Feb. 25-27): Truth and Objectivity

Small group meeting

Is there such a thing as ‘objective truth’? In science, in politics, in religion? Is it possible to know things apart from our own cultural background?

Week 7 (March 4): Philosophical Reading and Writing, MONDAY, 4-6 PM, Howison Library, Moses Hall

Large group meeting, led by Professor Niko Kolodny

Follow-up writing workshop: WEDNESDAY, March 6, Howison Library (optional)

Week 8 (March 11-13): Ethics

Small group meeting

What makes an action right or wrong? When do different ethical theories recommend different actions, and which theory is more convincing? What is the role of thought-experiments in philosophy? How are they similar and different from the ‘data’ in other disciplines?

Week 9 (March 18-20): Thinking about the Future

Small group meeting

What challenges do I face in making decisions about what to do in college, after college, and beyond? Strategies for choosing a career or what to do after college. (Freshman and sophomores: strategies for choosing a major. Sections where there’s interest: should I go to philosophy graduate school, and how can I prepare?) How do my grades matter for the future? How can I integrate my intellectual pursuits, my interests, my skills, and my need to make a living?

SPRING BREAK: March 25-29

Week 10 (Apr 1-3): Diversity and Philosophy

Small group meeting

What has been my experience of being a philosopher of a particular gender, race, religion, sexual preference, nationality, socio-economic class, or other identity? How can we better understand each other’s viewpoints when doing philosophy? Does and should identity matter when doing philosophy?

Week 11 (Apr 9): What Can I Do with My Degree? TUESDAY 6-7 pm, Howison Library, Moses Hall

Large group meeting

Panel with former philosophy majors who are now working in different careers. Statistics and anecdotes. How to think about one’s career.

Week 12 (April 15-19): Mentoring

One-on-one mentoring meeting

Writing papers, working habits, or topic of mentee’s choice.

Week 13 (April 22-24): Conversation with a Professor

Small group meeting

Ask a philosophy professor anything that’s on your mind, about philosophy itself or life in the university.

Week 14 (April 29-May 1): Topic TBD

Small group meeting

Topic determined by student interests


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