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/
About Brianne Gutmann:
I am a graduate student at the University of Illinois, doing physics education research. My interest is in making physics accessible for everyone, so my research is in strategies to retain students who are at-risk to fail introductory physics courses. Specifically, I create and implement mastery-style homework as a way to make content flexible and adaptive for different students’ needs. Three other graduate students and I created Illinois GPS in Fall 2015, and we’ve been working to expand and improve the program since then! My work with GPS and The Access Network have informed a lot of my focus and interest going forward; I hope to continue to use my place in research to advocate for inclusive and equitable practices in STEM.