Department Contact Information

Physics Department

Location: 180-204
Phone: (805) 756-2448
Fax: (805) 756-2435
Email: physics@calpoly.edu
Chair: Jennifer Klay

Support Physics

Website Update

Student Resources

 

On this page...

Here you can find a quick reference to many different kinds of support within the Physics program.
 
 

Mentoring and Support

  • First year Experience

The Cal Poly Physics Department has introduced a First-Year Experience course for all physics majors who are new to Cal Poly, including first-time freshmen and transfer students. The First-Year Experience meets weekly for 2 hours to build our physics community (connecting with faculty, alumni, and other students) and help students develop their physics identities.  Through hands-on activities and group discussions students practice the skills, tools, and habits of mind that physicists use when confronting physical systems and problems.  They explore career opportunities for physics majors to help them connect their life goals and interests to physics.  Students who take the course will emerge with a better sense of their place in our department and the wider physics community and feel empowered to make physics welcoming to all.

  • Neutron/Neutrino Program for Incoming First-Year Students

The Neutron-Neutrino program is our department’s peer mentoring program. Every incoming physics student (the Neutrino) is paired with a 3rd year or higher physics student (the Neutron). The Neutrons are here to help their Neutrinos learn, grow and succeed in the Cal Poly Physics community. The program's goal is to build a sense of community between the incoming student and the department, as well as provide them with support and encouragement throughout the first year at Cal Poly. If you have any questions or would like more information about this program, please contact the Women in Physics club (calpolywip@calpoly.edu), which founded and organizes this program.

  • Diversity/Equity/Inclusion

In this department, we strive to create an environment where you can bring your whole self to classes, research, mentoring, and life. The team that coordinates our department’s growth in giving you the best environment to thrive is the Physics Department Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Our team is also part of two national efforts to train departments on implementing change that centers minoritized students, staff, and faculty: The APS IDEA network teaches us evidence-based skills and strategies for implementing deep, lasting, department-wide change towards a more equitable and inclusive community. The AIP TEAM UP program coaches us on planning and implementing changes that remove obstacles that Black physics students face, changes that will also benefit other minoritized groups. Inclusion starts with the membership of this important committee. We have students, staff, and faculty represented on this committee, all as full members. We welcome and rely on your input in our decision-making. You can let us know if you see or feel anything that is wrong, or share any ideas you have for improvement by contacting the whole Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee (phys-diversity-inclusivity@calpoly.edu), Kat Gillen (kgillen@calpoly.edu, faculty), Michelle Wardrop (mwardrop@calpoly.edu, staff), Karl Saunders (ksaunder@calpoly.edu, department chair), or any of our student club officers who can contact us on your behalf – whatever you feel most comfortable with. The clubs’ contact information is: Minorities in Physics (calpolymip@gmail.com), Women in Physics (calpolywip@calpoly.edu), and SPS (sps@calpoly.edu). You can find more about our clubs below under Clubs and Social Life.

This is a site for First-Gen students to learn about campus resources, and the broader first-generation community at Cal Poly. College opens up numerous possibilities, opportunities, and new questions. This page offers first-generation students a portal to learn about these resources, link to additional information from various colleges, and introduce you to Cal Poly faculty, staff, and administrators who were also the first in their family to graduate from college.

  • Cal-Bridge Program

The application form for the Cal-Bridge program is open, so it is time to consider applying for the 2022-23 academic year. The program is available to any (physics OR CS OR math) major interested in pursuing a PhD in (physics, astronomy, or a related field OR computer science/engineering or a related field OR math/math education/statistics or a related field). More details about program benefits and eligibility are listed below the image.

The deadline for applications is April 4, 2022. Since letters of recommendation are also due on April 4, we highly recommend you contact faculty at your campus that you would like a letter from ASAP! Once you start an application, you can save your work, so there is no reason not to start now! In addition, a link can be sent to your letter writers immediately, without waiting for the application to be completed and submitted. Make sure you follow the directions in the application to send these notifications to your letter writers as soon as possible. For more information and the link to the application instructions, visit our website at www.calbridge.org. For more information contact Louise Edwards ledwar04@calpoly.edu or drop by Baker 619.

To read about the specific instructions in your field visit:

Physics and Astronomy: https://www.cpp.edu/calbridge/prospective-scholars/physics-and-astronomy.shtml

Computer Science and Computer Engineering: https://www.cpp.edu/calbridge/prospective-scholars/computer-science-and-engineering.shtml  

Math, Math Education, and Statistics: https://www.cpp.edu/calbridge/prospective-scholars/mathematics-and-statistics.shtml 

The Cal-Bridge program is designed for students interested in pursuing a PhD in their major or a related field. Students who will graduate in academic year 2023-24 (i.e., current sophomores/rising juniors) are eligible to apply.  

The program combines significant scholarship money with intensive mentoring (by both a CSU and a UC faculty member), professional development, and research opportunities to prepare you to apply and be accepted to a PhD program. Benefits of the program include:

  • Up to $10,000/year of scholarship support for your final two years of your undergraduate bachelor's degree, based on demonstrated need
  • An additional year of scholarship funding to help cover the cost of your first year of graduate school at a participating UC campus*
  • Mentoring from CSU and UC faculty members
  • Professional development opportunities geared towards success in completing your undergraduate degree and in entering graduate school
  • Opportunities to participate in research with CSU and UC faculty members
  • Participating in STEM enrichment activities in a nurturing, friendly environment with other like-minded young scholars from around the CSU system

To be eligible for the program, a Cal-Bridge applicant at a participating CSU must:

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States to receive financial support (others may apply and if selected, can participate in all elements of the program, but may not be eligible for financial support)
  • Be on track to graduate in academic year 2023-24, including being currently enrolled in 2nd or 3rd year major classes
  • Be majoring in (physics OR computer science/engineering OR math/math education/statistics)
  • Demonstrate academic ability or potential
  • Be motivated to attend graduate school at a participating UC or another institution (however, please note that only Cal-Bridge scholars who matriculate to a graduate program at a participating UC will receive financial aid for graduate study)

If you have any questions about Cal-Bridge, contact Louise Edwards ledwar04@calpoly.edu or drop by Baker 619

*Please note that admission to Cal-Bridge does not guarantee admission to a UC graduate program; Cal-Bridge scholars must successfully apply and matriculate to a participating UC graduate program in order to receive financial aid for graduate study.

 

Advising

Mustang Success Center - for first year students

The Mustang Success Center provides an inclusive environment that supports first time freshmen students with their transition and integration into Cal Poly. The center’s staff provides accessible academic advising that guides students to clear pathways of success and timely graduation. 

Through individual appointments, group advising sessions, and workshops, the advisors help students: 

  • Understand University policies and procedures 
  • Offer a full range of proactive academic services 
  • Refer students to appropriate campus resources 
  • Provide leadership in coordinating College and University programs that support student success. 

CSM Advising - for continuing and transfer students

CSM Student Services provides academic advising services to students within the college and pre-health advising to all students throughout the university.

Academic advising services include:

  • assistance with developing long-range academic plans
  • interpreting university and college policy and procedures
  • articulation agreements
  • study abroad planning
  • scheduling classes
  • financial aid SAP appeals
  • helping you to understand your degree & graduation requirements
  • academic coaching for students experiencing academic difficulty
  • and more!

Pizza Advising Event

Every fall, Physics holds a lunchtime meeting with an opportunity to review important information and meet with the department chair and your faculty advisor.

Physics Department Advising

For Physics major coursework advising, contact your physics advisor (or the department office if you are unsure who your advisor is).

Thinking about Changing your Major?

Tutoring Resources

  • Cal Poly Tutoring

The Cal Poly Writing and Learning Center provides free peer-to-peer tutoring with experienced physics student tutors. For more information visit the Writing and Learning Center webpage or schedule an appointment online at https://calpoly.mywconline.com/.

  • Private Physics Tutors

*The Cal Poly Physics Department provides this private tutor list as a service to students at all levels in the San Luis Obispo area and does not imply endorsement by the Physics Department or Cal Poly. The tutors listed are current students/employees in good standing with the University. We do try to keep the list current and would like to know about any information that is incorrect or false.

Download a list of private tutors here.

Senior Project Information

Clubs and Social Life

Cal Poly Women in Physics (CPWiP) is a student club affiliated with ASI and the Cal Poly Physics Department.  The club was started in 2009 with the goal of providing support for women in the major, who represent less than 15 percent of all students in the department. Social events, professional development, conference attendance, and research opportunities are promoted by the club for the benefit of all physics majors, regardless of gender. Visit the club Facebook and Instagram pages for more information. Please let us know how we can help, and we hope to see you at our next event! The faculty sponsor of Cal Poly Women in Physics is Dr. Colleen Marlow. For more information, contact us at calpolywip@calpoly.edu.

Physics Majors

The Cal Poly Physics Department has approximately 200 majors. During the academic year, most of them can be found studying, emailing, socializing (or sleeping) in their dedicated student room known as "h-bar," (180-639).

Society of Physics Students (SPS)

There is an active SPS chapter on campus. Information about their activities may be found on their Facebook page.

Sigma Pi Sigma

Sigma Pi Sigma is a National Physics Honors Society. Membership information may be found here. Please contact the Cal Poly chapter advisor, Dr. Thomas Gutierrez, for more information.

Cal Poly Women in Physics (CPWiP)

Cal Poly Women in Physics (CPWiP) is a student club affiliated with ASI and the Cal Poly Physics Department.  The club was started in 2009 with the goal of providing support for female physics majors, who represent less than 15 percent of all students in the department. Social events, professional development, conference attendance, and research opportunities are promoted by the club for the benefit of all physics majors, regardless of gender. Visit the club Facebook and Instagram pages for more information. Please let us know how we can help, and we hope to see you at our next event! The faculty sponsor of Cal Poly Women in Physics is Dr. Katharina Gillen. For more information, contact us at calpolywip@calpoly.edu.

Minorities in Physics Club:

The purpose of the Minorities in Physics Club is to act as a resource and provide a space for physics students to engage in discussion of issues regarding diversity and inclusivity such that their collective voice is represented and they become empowered in their ability to thrive in academia.

The advisor is Dr. Louise Edwards, who can be contacted at ledward04@calpoly.edu. The club email is CalPolyMiP@gmail.com for those interested in joining or have any questions.

Cal Poly Astronomy Club:

The Cal Poly Astronomy Club is a student-run organization that meets, socializes, and observes things astronomical using the telescopes in the Cal Poly Observatory.

Astronomy Club's Facebook page

Observatory's Facebook page

Feel free to contact Dr. David Mitchell with any questions.

Study Abroad Opportunities for Physics Students

Cal Poly International Exchange Programs offer students opportunities to study their academic disciplines at partner universities for up to one year.

Courses Pre-Approved for Transfer Back to Cal Poly

Here is a list of physics department courses pre-approved for transfer back to Cal Poly. Other course substitutions may be possible upon consultation with the department chair.

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