Prospective Students

The gravity group is committed to excellence in research and mentoring. Graduate students in the gravity group have a primary adviser (either Prof. Yunes or Cornish) and they are expected to collaborate with other graduate students and postdoctoral researchers. The primary adviser mentors the student to help her/him develop professional research skills, technical writing skills and oral presentation skills. The research topics graduate students work on can be found here.

Hiscock Award

This award is intended for incoming graduate students who are interested in gravitational research and showed exceptional promise in their undergraduate studies. The Gravity Group selects the awardees based on undergraduate GPA, GRE score, research experience, aptitude or creativity and letters of recommendations submitted during the graduate school application process. Award amounts vary depending on available funding.

Policy for Prospective Graduate Students

Graduate students interested in becoming members of the MSU Gravity Group must demonstrate a mastery of Physics and, in particular, of General Relativity and gravitational wave theory. To do so, the student must first pass the MSU Department of Physics Comprehensive Examination at the PhD level (both written and oral components). In addition to this, the student must pass an oral exam, which tests her/his broad knowledge of General Relativity. This exam is chaired by the students's advisor plus one or two other core gravity faculty members. All examiners must be satisfied with the student's broad knowledge of General Relativity. The exam draws from the following reading list:

  • Chapters 1-6 of the textbook "General Relativity" by R. M. Wald or all but Chapter 9 of the textbook "Spacetime and Geometry: An Introduction to General Relativity" by Sean M. Carroll.
  • Sections 9.1 to 9.4 of the chapter "Gravitational Radiation" by K. S. Thorne in the book "300 Years of Gravitation", edited by S. W. Hawking and W. Israel.
  • The review article "An Overview of Gravitational-wave Sources" by C. Cutler and K. S. Thorne, gr-qc/0204090.

This exam should be taken and passed by all prospective graduate students interested in writing a dissertation through the advisement of the Gravity group. The exam should be taken as early as possible, normally after the completion of PHSX 523 (General Relativity 1). Graduate students should also strive to take as many relativity courses as offered during their tenure in the graduate program. Normally, this will consist of PHSX 523 and 524.

After becoming members of the Gravity group, students will be allowed to obtain a PhD in Gravitational research. As all other graduate students, gravity students must submit a Ph.D dissertation in compliance with departmental and graduate school rules. The dissertation must be based on research carried out by the graduate student during her/his tenure at MSU. Gravity students are recommended to complete at least 4 papers to be published in refereed scientific publications. Moreover, the Gravity group encourages the dissemination of scientific results at conferences and workshops. Gravity students will be required to present her/his results in at least 2 conferences or workshops before completion of their Ph. D. Venues for such presentations include the APS April Meeting, the Pacific Coast Gravity Meeting, the International Conference on General Relativity and Gravitation, the Amaldi Meeting, or other special workshops or invited talks at accredited Universities.

Courses offered in Gravity

Core courses in the Physics Department include Classical Mechanics, Quantum Mechanics, Electromagnetism, Statistical Physics and Mathematical Physics [for a list of all graduate courses offered, please refer to [hyperlink to the graduate course manual in the physics website]. In addition to these core-courses, graduate students can also take elective courses in astrophysics and relativity, which include the following:

  • PHSX 500-07: Astrophysics Journal Club - Readings from the current astrophysical literature. Format is the same as Solar Journal Club.
  • PHSX 500-04: Relativity/Astrophysics and Solar Physics Seminar - One hour seminars by the students and faculty presenting their current research.
  • PHSX 523: General Relativity I - Tensor calculus, differential geometry, and an introduction to Einstein's theory of gravity. The Schwarzschild solution and black hole physics.
  • PHSX 524: General Relativity II - Advanced topics in gravitation theory such as singularities, cosmological models, and gravitational waves.
  • PHSX 555: Quantum Field Theory - Techniques of canonical and path integral quantization of fields; renormalization theory. Quantum electrodynamics; gauge theories of the fundamental interactions.
  • PHSX 560: Astrophysics - Advanced astrophysics. Covers the basic physics of astrophysics, using Shu's "The Physics of Astrophysics" volumes 1 and 2, giving some emphasis to those topics that are part of the research program of the department (compact objects, gravitation and relativity, and solar physics).
  • PHSX 565: Astrophysical Plasma Physics - An introduction to the physics of fluids and plasma relevant to astrophysical plasmas such as the solar corona. Topics covered include: magnetostatics, one-fluid (MHD) and two-fluid approaches, linear waves and instabilities, shocks, transonic flows and collisional effects.

Please click here for more information for Physics graduate students.

Updated: September 2, 2014 15:22