Illinois GPS (Guidance for Physics Students) is a community of undergraduate and graduate students in the physics department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.  The program is student-initiated and run, and was created to connect our two physics communities so we can be resources for one another, via one-on-one graduate-undergraduate mentoring and community-wide social and academic events, including an annual summer retreat.  Its intention is to create an inclusive, cohesive, and welcoming community to voice concerns or ask questions.  We particularly hope to act as an anchor for students who may have a hard time connecting or feeling confident in their place within physics, such as transfer students, first generation students, and traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM.

GPS offers several services to students, including:

  • One on one mentoring between grads and undergrads
  • Social activities: bake-offs, movie nights, laser tag, pumpkin carving, etc.
  • Academic/information events:  diversity panel, experimental physicist panel, lab tours, stress workshop, “how to apply to grad school” workshop, etc.
  • Summer retreat: two-day camping trip with games/ice-breakers/competitions, etc




Assembly Fellow (2018, 2019): Luis Miguel de Jesús Astacio (he/him/his), (institutional) (non-institutional)

My name is Luis Miguel de Jesús Astacio and I’m a 1st year PhD student in Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). My current research interests focus mainly around theoretical and experimental biophysics but I also do a bit of sociophysics on the side. As you can probably tell from my name, I’m not from the USA. I’m actually from Puerto Rico (an island in the Caribbean) and I lived there all my life, up until moving to Illinois for the PhD. Thus, my native language, as for all Puerto Ricans, is Spanish. So if anyone else speaks Spanish, let me know. 🙂
Besides research/studies, I also make sure to indulge in other hobbies. I enjoy sports and the outdoors (right now I’m doing triathlon training and skeet & trap), watching movies, reading, videogames.  I also enjoy having new culinary experiences, either by food or drinks, and I think that cooking is pretty enjoyable, so I do that as much as often. Getting to eat your own “experiments” at the end is definitely another substantial reason. :p Lastly, one of my other passions is to travel and immerse myself in the culture of other people.

Assembly Fellow (2019): Karmela Padavić (she/her/hers),

Karmela is a PhD candidate in Physics, currently in the sixth year of her studies. Her work focuses on theoretical condensed matter physics and ultracold atomic systems. In addition to her academic work, she is committed to working with organizations and initiatives within the physics community in order to foster inclusivity and diversity. She has served in a leadership role within Illinois Guidance for Physics Students mentoring program, the Women in Physics and Astronomy organizing group, acted as a Diversity Advocate on the Engineering Graduate Students Advisory Committee and is a co-treasurer of the Graduate Employee Organization at UIUC. Karmela holds Bachelor’s degrees in Physics and Mathematics from the University of Chicago and has been multiply published in Physical Review journals. In her free time, she is vegan baker, a runner, a yoga practitioner and a writer.

Assembly Fellow (2019): Damerrick Perry (he/him/his)

My name is Damerrick Perry, and I’m a physics student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduating in 2020. I’m originally from Chicago, and yes I still call it the Sears Tower. On campus, I’m passionate about Illinois GPS and have been a part of the program for all the four years of my time here. After graduation, I plan on moving to California and working in the tech industry. In my free time, I like to go to the gym and learn foreign languages. I currently know a little bit of French and Arabic, and I’m really interested in learning Mandarin next.

Network Fellow (2019): Jamie Milota,

My name is Jamie Milota. I am a rising junior in engineering physics and I am getting a minor in math and electrical engineering. I was born in China and grew up in Eastern Iowa. For my entire life, I have been an extrovert and love getting to meet new people! I enjoy playing sports, hanging out with my friends, and baking in my free time.



Past Fellows:

Damerrick Perry, Network Fellow 2018

Jake Rangel, Network Fellow 2017