First year project

This is a reference page for Graduate student information.


What the handbook says

In September of each year we hold ASTROFEST, a full day of talks by faculty, post docs and graduate students on research underway in the Department and at affiliated institutions such as GISS and the AMNH. Also in September, individual faculty each hold one-hour sessions with all interested first-year students to outline the possible first-year research projects he/she has available. By October 1, each first-year student is expected to have selected a research project and a mentor, and to report the arrangement to the Director of Graduate Studies. By September of the following year, students are expected to present a completed written report on their results in the style of a professional journal paper and to discuss their research results with a faculty committee. They are also expected to present a five-minute ASTROFEST talk.

During the course of the year, all students will regularly attend Research Seminar, a meeting of first- and second-year students in which technical and scientific problems are discussed and regular updates are given by each student. In May, each student is expected to meet with a three-person faculty committee to present an informal progress report, along with plans for the summer completion of the project. In addition, it is expected that once or twice throughout the year, students will participate along with faculty and research staff by giving brief (~5 − 10 minute), informal presentations of their work at Pizza Lunch.

Additional information

Take the May and September meetings very seriously since this is essentially the only time the faculty will be formally evaluating your progress on research. This is especially important if your advisor is of the hands-off variety. The presentations in May and September should be more-or-less exhaustive about what you accomplished and how you accomplished it. In particular, do not omit the false-starts, dead-ends, and steep learning curves bested. The faculty seems to be interested in seeing how much progress you made in whatever form it takes. While this could be indicated by a published paper, it need not necessarily be. In general, let the faculty know exactly what you worked on and how research proceeded in your presentations and formal papers. While the faculty will likely not be able or willing to read an enormous paper, it seems from experience that it is better to err on the side of verbosity rather than being concise.

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