From chemistry to physics

  • As many already know, studying for the physics GRE and getting accepted into a graduate program is not the final hurdle in your physics career.
  • There are many issues current physics graduate students face such as studying for their qualifier, deciding upon a field of research, choosing an advisor, being an effective teaching assistant, trying to have a social life, navigating department politics, dealing with stress, utilizing financial aid, etc.

chemshi
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:46 pm

From chemistry to physics

Postby chemshi » Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:31 am

I am an undergraduate majored in chemistry, but after 3 years' study, I find myself being fascinated by physics. The next year I will go to Japan's Kyoto University for my master and doctoral study in chemistry in the field of strong-correlated system material and solid NMR. But I still want to get a doctor's degree in physics after graduate. Who can give some advice on which university or institute can I be admitted? Thank you very much.
P.S.: the field is condensed state physics.

Blinky
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:22 pm

Re: From chemistry to physics

Postby Blinky » Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:00 pm

Well how's your physics background? If you're familiar with these textbooks (or their alternatives)

Electrodynamics by Griffiths
Classical Dynamics by Thornton and Marion
Thermal Physics by Kittel
Quantum Mechanics by Liboff or Griffiths

and are more or less comfortable with the material presented by them, well, then I'd say that's damn good for someone with a chemistry degree.

cesascencio
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:25 pm

Re: From chemistry to physics

Postby cesascencio » Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:25 pm

chemshi wrote:I am an undergraduate majored in chemistry, but after 3 years' study, I find myself being fascinated by physics. The next year I will go to Japan's Kyoto University for my master and doctoral study in chemistry in the field of strong-correlated system material and solid NMR. But I still want to get a doctor's degree in physics after graduate. Who can give some advice on which university or institute can I be admitted? Thank you very much.
P.S.: the field is condensed state physics.


Konnichiwa! Nihon-jin desu ka

If so, are you female? ;)

Either way, I have some advice for you as a top graduate student in physics doing research in condensed matter physics. If you are really interested in physics and want to pursue condensed matter (which includes strongly correlated systems), maybe you should just complete only degrees in physics. You are like me in that physics pulled you in! I did my BS in Electrical Engineering, was fascinated by physics and jumped head first into completing an MS in Physics (I'm about to finish my MS in physics and will be pursuing a PhD next Fall). You can be admitted to any physics program. If you are serious about physics, then I have some tips for you:

1) Get as much research experience as you can before you apply to a graduate physics program. You can do the research in chemistry if you want, as long as it is SCIENTIFIC research AND PUBLISH !!

2) Start really learning physics and become strong with the four main subjects as Blinky has suggested. But I would not recommend every textbook that Blinky has suggested. If you really want to understand the PHYSICS and solve problems I HIGHLY recommend the following textbooks to prepare (especially Taylor's and Schroeders):

For Electrodynamics: Introduction to Electrodynamics by Griffiths or If you want to be better prepared for graduate school (and I love this textbook) Electromagnetic Fields by Wangsness . The best advice I can give is use them in conjunction.

For Classical Mechanics: Classical Mechanics by John R. Taylor ---> This is by far the best undergraduate textbook on the subject MUCH better than Marion and Thornton's text. I guarantee that you WILL FALL IN LOVE with this textbook. Taylor is a GREAT communicator of physics.

For Thermal Physics and Statistical Mechanics: Introduction to Thermal Physics by Schroeder . This is BY FAR the best textbook on introductory thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. Kittel's book is NO GOOD for understanding the physics and solving problems.

For Quantum Mechanics: Introduction to Quantum mechanics by Griffiths is great for an undergraduate exposure, but if you really want to be prepared for a PhD program in physics use Principles of Quantum Mechanics by Shankar. Again, best scenario would be to use them in conjunction.

Of course, you will have to really beef up on your math skills, particularly vector and multivariable calculus, linear algebra (including abstract vector spaces), linear ordinary and partial differential equations...but you can learn these as you go. If you'd like, I can always help you out via email. I wish I had someone to help me out as I was slowly learning physics (as I had mentioned my background was in EE). Don't take my offer lightly, I am a very great tutor and can answer any math or physics questions you may have, including advanced topics (I have finished all my MS Physics coursework with a 3.95 GPA and will be working on Theoretical condensed matter research in my department in the Fall and am currently doing some experimental condensed matter research at Princeton University). Let me know what you decide.

3) Take the Physics GRE test and do well (prepare for it by solving a whole lot of problems and testing yourself using the 4 ETS Physics GRE exams available online). Not sure if it is required in Japanese universities...

If you do these things, you will be well prepared for graduate school in physics. Again, it is VERY IMPORTANT to SOLVE many problems in physics to be a good physicist.

It will be a pretty big mathematical leap between chemistry and physics, but you can definitely do it. Also, remember that physics is the more fundamental science in that it can explain everything, including chemistry.

Goodluck!!




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