Audrey’s conference experience!

by Audrey Kvam, CWLT physics tutor

Audrey and her poster!

I spent this past summer doing a theoretical research project (“Analyzing the
Propagation of Light through Composite Dark Matter”) with one of my professors in the
physics department, David Latimer. (It was fantastic, I highly recommend doing summer research here at UPS!) By mid-August, I was wrapping up my research, making my
poster, writing up my results, and David sent me a link to something called the Conference Experience for Undergraduates (CEU). This conference is held in conjunction with the American Physical Societyʼs fall meeting of the Division of Nuclear Physics, and is an opportunity for undergraduate researchers to get experience
presenting their research to the physics community, learn about the research currently
happening in the field of nuclear physics, and network to get connections for future
research/grad school. On somewhat of a whim, I sent in an application and received
funding both from the conference itself and UPS to attend with my research poster.

School took over and I barely had time to think about the conference until last
week, when I suddenly realized I was about to fly across the country (the conference
was held in Virginia this year), alone, to talk about my research with people who would
not only understand everything I did over the summer, but could also ask all kinds of
complicated questions that would go way over my head. I spent the next few days trying
valiantly not to panic.

It turns out all my angst was for nothing; small talk is not my forte, but luckily
physicists are not known for their social prowess and no one was thrown off by a little
awkwardness. By the second day, Iʼd made friends with a few other undergrads and
together we explored the area and went to endless talks given by current researchers at
universities and labs across the world. At the poster session, I fielded questions from
various graduate students and fully-qualified physicists and rather impressed myself
with how much I did know (although I had to admit to ignorance several times). There
was an ice cream social and a graduate school fair, where I talked to representatives
from schools such as Rutger, Duke, and MIT about what their programs are like, which
fields Iʼm most interested in, and what they look for in a strong application to grad


A group photo of all of the undergraduate researchers at the conference

Overall, the conference was incredibly inspiring. Hearing talks about current research made me realize how much I have yet to learn (I need to take a quantum
mechanics class STAT) and how much I really want to learn it. It was also apparent how
much the physics community really cares about the next generation of physicists-to-be by the ready willingness to give advice and recommend research and/or grad school opportunities. In just a few days, I made friends that I can see myself staying in touch with for years to come. For anyone who has the opportunity to attend a conference — for any field, not just physics — do it!!



Spotlight on: Chemistry!

by Danique Gigger, CWLT chem tutor

Hi! I’m Danique and I’m one of the Chemistry tutors. Chemistry can seem like a daunting subject to many students, but it can really be a LOT of FUN too!

If you are having trouble enjoying what chemistry has to offer, check out Chem Club, the annual Chemistry magic show, chat with your professors about what they love about chemistry, etc. By developing some connection with the subject, you’ll be more invested in the learning process and less concerned about fulfilling a degree requirement.

Nonetheless, Chemistry can still be tricky to understand. My number one recommendation for students who are finding an area of Chemistry difficult is to find a study partner or two to work with. It really benefits working through homework problems and studying for exams with others. They can clarify areas you may find difficult, and vice versa. By teaching each other, you both are able to develop a deeper meaning of the concepts.

And don’t forget – professors, the CWLT tutors and SAACS tutors are all available to help you!

Make an appointment with one of the three CWLT Chemistry tutors!
Danique Gigger
Tuesday, 7-8pm (drop-in) and 8-9
Wednesday, 6-7pm
Sunday, 3-5pm

Guinn Ellen Dunn
Tuesday, 7-9pm
Wednesday, 11am-noon
Thursday, 7-8pm (drop-in) and 8-9

Liz Meucci
Monday, 5-7pm
Wednesday, 7-8pm (drop-in)
Sunday, 5-7pm

Interested in publishing as a career?

If you’ve ever considered a career in trade, textbook university, or small independent publishing, there will be an interest meeting on campus that’s perfect for you! On Monday, Feb. 10 from 5-6 in WY101, Greta Lindquist (class of 2010) will be talking about her experiences at the Denver Publishing Institute, an intensive 4-week summer program meant to help launch careers in publishing. Greta currently works at the University of California Press, and she is a former CWLT writing advisor!

Feel free to drop by even if you have to come late!

Writing advisors share: What’s my writing process?

We know that everyone has their own writing process, and it can sometimes be difficult to start a paper if you don’t go through your usual routine. Last semester, writing advisors shared about how they write. Here’s what they had to say!

Grete, Biology major: “When I really get into writing mode, my hair goes up in a ponytail, sweatpants come on, and all of the miscellaneous collections of books, old assignments, and the ever-present army of vitamin waters on my desk gets pushed to the side to make room for my computer. Head tilting from side to side along with rhythmic tapping of my feet is a common occurrence as I flip through all my notes and construct a detailed outline of what I hope to write. By the end of many hours of pouring over old books and constructing several drafts, I sit back, eat some brie and crackers, and finish revising my essay with a much needed feeling of contentment.”

Anna, English/History double major: “I’m what I call a Pressure Cooker Writer. Once I sit down to write, I don’t take more than a ten minutes break until I’ve got the draft I’m looking for. Of course, this strategy doesn’t work unless I’ve put some considerable thought into what I’m going to write, and how I’m going to write it, before I touch fingers to the keyboard. First, I have to closely read and consider the text(s) I’m working with. Lately, I’ve been rereading with my computer nearby, typing out quotes that I see as potentially relevant as I go along. After I’ve pulled out a lot of the best material from the text itself, I’ve found that I not only have a much better understanding of the reading, but also a potential direction I can take in my argument. A thesis usually comes quickly after going through the material I’ve typed out. Once I have a clear general argument, I start looking at the sub-arguments that are the steps to proving that thesis. With general idea headings, I’ll move around the quotes I’ve selected so that they’re organized under what will become my body paragraphs. Now, before I’ve even started to write, I have a thesis, headings for body paragraphs organized by sub-arguments, and a wealth of textual evidence for each step of the way. It’s all this prep work that allows the pressure cooker strategy to work so well. Once you’ve done all the cutting and basting and seasoning, you can toss it all in and go!”

Maya, History major: “My writing process begins when I check out a teetering stack of books from the library. This may be a quirk unique to history majors, but I find it to be the most reassuring part of the writing process since it means that other people have thought and wrote about my topic as well. To organize my thoughts around the writing assignment, I comb through glossaries and subject encyclopedias for key words and ideas, and then I draw a bubble map connecting those ideas. Once I know what ideas I’m focusing on, I write a skeleton outline with an introduction, one idea per body paragraph, and a conclusion summarizing my analysis and re-stating the significance of my claim. That skeleton makes it easy for me to categorize my quotes and synthesize clear, specific analysis. My outlines are always single-spaced and full of different symbols and colors marking sections that I want to revise or expand upon. Once I’m confident that my ideas are clear, have sufficient evidence, and answer the assignment prompt, I paste the writing into a new document, erase all the bullet points, standardize the formatting, and read it out loud to myself to check the assignment’s flow and syntax.”
Jana, History major: “My writing method is hectic at its best, frantic at its worst.  I write and work in spurts, meaning that instead of sensibly researching for two or three hours a day on a single project I’ll try to jam 15-ish hours’ worth of work into a single weekend.  When it comes to the actual writing, I gotta keep myself pumped: I listen to Girl Talk remixes or (as recommended by fellow advisor Hannah Fattor) Australian eco-rap, and denizens of the front rooms of Collins Library are probably familiar with my mid-paragraph dance moves and lip-synching.  I tend to write my essays in a single sitting, even if it’s a 20-page long behemoth of a thesis.  Sometimes I’m writing with a thorough point-by-point outline in front of me, but more often than not I just have a loose outline of reminders and general ideas or even no outline at all.  My goal isn’t to write a perfect draft or even a good draft, but to just write something.  Once I’ve gotten words on paper, I can rip them to shreds during my own overly-critical editing process.  That’s where I’m merciless.  I turn my conclusion into my introduction.  I cut entire sections out of a paper.  I change my entire argument.  The paper usually ends up covered in scarlet/lilac/brown/whatever editing remarks in my famously illegible handwriting.  It’s only after the 3rd or 4th round of this editing that I feel like maybe, just maybe, I’ve actually written something I’m proud of.”
Henry, P&G major (who graduated December 2013!): “My writing process is often characterized by the extent to which I’m putting things together on the fly. A lot of the time when I first sit down I only have a vauge inkling about what I want to say, usually something like ‘I think John Dewey has a god among men, I really want to defend him from this criticism,’ or ‘I don’t think Allan Bloom has any idea what he’s talking about, let me take his argument apart.’ As a political theory major, I’m usually writing an argument about other peoples’ arguments, so I always start with what they say. Can I write up a summary of John Dewey in a reasonable amount of space, or do I need to re-read? Next, I ask myself what I think about each part of their argument. What are their strengths and weaknesses, and what do I have to say about those? I tend to write individual sentences or paragraphs and organize them into something coherent. I end up cutting lots of stuff out by the end, but that’s the process that works the best for me!”


Welcome to Peering In!

Hello! We are so excited to launch Peering In, a student blog brought to you by the Writing Advisors and Peer Tutors who work in the Center for Writing, Learning and Teaching. We hope that this will be a space for us to share academic resources, what we’ve been up to (see the upcoming post about our physics tutor Audrey’s conference experience), study tips, fun facts about our various disciplines, news about what’s going on in the CWLT, and much more. We also hope to post a series of short, educational, and fun videos made by the Writing Advisors and Peer Tutors.
If ever you have any ideas for what you’d like to see on Peering In, please feel free to comment on the posts!
And now a bit of news about CWLT happenings:
  • If you’d like to be a Peer Tutor or Writing Advisor during the 2014-2015 academic year, be our valentine and apply today! Applications are due on Valentine’s Day (Friday, Feb. 14) and can be found here.
  • Mark your calendars for Pi Day (3/14/14)! The CWLT will be hosting several events to celebrate the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter, and we’d love to have you join. Details are still being worked out, but it looks like we’ll be having free pie and a Life of Pi screening!
  • Also, remember to “like” us on Facebook for the latest updates and other interesting articles, videos, and photos!