University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

snowflake2011
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University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:05 pm

I have wide interests including hep and condmat (I know!), and have offers from both. Which is a better school overall? I know they both have good physics departments. A lot of profs in each place work on things that I want to work in. But which school has a more holistic program, courses and more opportunities? I am an international student so I can't visit either of the schools to find out myself. Would appreciate advice and comments.
Last edited by snowflake2011 on Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

bfollinprm
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:06 pm

snowflake2011 wrote:I have wide interests including hep and condmat (I know!), and have offers from both. Which is a better school overall? I know they both have good physics departments. A lot of profs in each place work on things that I want to work in. But which school has a more holistic program, courses and more opportunities? I am an international student so I can't visit either of the schools to find out myself. Would appreciate advice and comments.



Profile? Need more info.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby snowflake2011 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:24 pm

Thanks for your reply. What do you want to know?

bfollinprm
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:28 pm

snowflake2011 wrote:Thanks for your reply. What do you want to know?


Past experiences, potential advisers, future plans. But you should really just post your profile in the profiles thread, all the cool people do it.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby snowflake2011 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:02 pm

Not much past experience did work on computational physics (no publications), future plan is to pursue a research career in physics. UMD has Raman Sundram, Das Sarma, Levin, and a lot of QC work going on, while UPenn has a good cond-mat group working on many different things in quantum condmath-th, like Kane and Mele (topological insulators), string and cosmology groups. I dont have a very firm area in mind right now as I got interested in lots of things in my last college year.

twinb87
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby twinb87 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 4:47 pm

Hello,

I currently attend UMD. I can't really compare to UPenn in terms of which school is better (both are really good in my opinion) but if you have specific questions about UMD I would be happy to answer them.

bfollinprm
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:37 pm

snowflake2011 wrote:Not much past experience did work on computational physics (no publications), future plan is to pursue a research career in physics. UMD has Raman Sundram, Das Sarma, Levin, and a lot of QC work going on, while UPenn has a good cond-mat group working on many different things in quantum condmath-th, like Kane and Mele (topological insulators), string and cosmology groups. I dont have a very firm area in mind right now as I got interested in lots of things in my last college year.


I know more professors who came from U Penn than College Park, and College Park has the bigger program. Neither are bad, though, and I'd rather live in DC than Philly, but that's a personal opinion.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby snowflake2011 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:24 pm

Thanks. Are there any UPenn Physics students here who could give me more inputs about UPenn? How is the coursework at both places? Twinb87 how flexible is the UMD program? A lot of profs listed on the web site seem to be inactive in research at UMD..is this true? I dont have much idea of my specialization so I dont want to pick a school based on one group or prof...at UMD I dont know if the profs whose work I find interesting are still taking students. But there seem to be a lot of people.

Maybe UPenn students here can give some more guidance?

How is Philadelphia versus College Park? Is it cheaper or more expensive? What about crime?

michael
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby michael » Sat Mar 19, 2011 1:46 pm

I can give you some information about UPenn, but I know more about condensed matter (theory and experiment). I was only there for 4 months, but the physics department is quite small and so I feel I have a fair idea about the place. I think that Penn is small enough that you could probably figure out that there are only a handful of professors working in areas you would like to do in your phd, so you could probably contact each of them by email and ask if they are likely to take on new students in the near future.

I think Penn is really good. The students are cool, and I actually really like Philadelphia (although it depends on your tastes, and what your used to - where are you from?) Downsides I heard from a few students is that the teaching commitments for physics graduate students is quite heavy, and it seems to be less teaching face to face with students and more grading papers. Also, the actual physics buildings themselves are some of the least attractive in the University, which is sad as it is in general a beautiful campus.

Saying this, I don't know anything about UMD so it is hard to give solid comparisons.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby snowflake2011 » Mon Mar 21, 2011 4:18 pm

Do you know about courses at upenn? You said the program at umd is bigger. What did you mean?

twinb87
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn for Physics

Postby twinb87 » Tue Mar 22, 2011 1:21 pm

The graduate program at Maryland is actually quite flexible. There aren't a lot of required courses to take. For example, if you have already taken graduate level courses in the core subject areas and feel like you can pass the qualifying exam without taking the equivalent courses at Maryland then you are not required to take them unless you want to. I don't mean to imply that the courses are not worth taking just that many students here like the flexibility in the first year course requirements. The department is also flexible with whom you pick for your advisor as they don't necessarily have to be within the physics department as long as you can justify your research as physics related.

In terms of inactive professors, I would say that is not true as the department is quite big and has many professors active doing research. Also, as I said earlier, the opportunities for an advisor are not just limited to the physics department.

I think what michael meant by UMD being bigger is that Maryland has research going on in just about every area of physics research there is whereas Penn seems more specialized in a few areas. I don't mean to imply that bigger= better at all....this is just what I think he meant by Penn being smaller.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:02 am

Thank you for your replies. How is Ohio State for high energy physics theory? How does it compare to UMD and UPenn?

I dont know much about active HEP research at Ohio State (I've received an offer from them too). I applied on the strength of their PhD program in cosmology, but I couldn't find a lot of active HEP researchers there (on the website). Can someone also tell me about the particle physics research groups at UMD and UPenn?

axiomofchoice
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby axiomofchoice » Wed Mar 23, 2011 11:58 am

snowflake2011 wrote:Thank you for your replies. How is Ohio State for high energy physics theory? How does it compare to UMD and UPenn?

I dont know much about active HEP research at Ohio State (I've received an offer from them too). I applied on the strength of their PhD program in cosmology, but I couldn't find a lot of active HEP researchers there (on the website). Can someone also tell me about the particle physics research groups at UMD and UPenn?


No idea about UPenn or Ohio State, but UMD is fairly good on the hep-th side afaik. Also, Raman Sundrum is there now.

SSM
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby SSM » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:21 pm

I don't know how good the Ohio State hep-th department is in terms of rank or anything. It's pretty small-average sized, maybe 6-10 professors. I've had a lot of them for classes and know that they're all nice people, would be fun to work with.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:30 pm

Other than Raman Sundram, there is Jim Gates (a prominent string theorist), and two phenomenologists. The reason I asked these questions is that if there's a large number of people working in hep-th, then there is a lot of room for interacting with different people. Somehow, OSU doesn't seem to fit here? Most listed professors have an emeritus status, and the few that don't also don't seem to be taking new students, or too active.

Other than hep-th, in quantum computation and information, OSU has nobody in Physics. UMD has a lot of people working in experimental aspects of quantum computing (or related areas). UPenn also seems to have nobody working in quantum computing. If I feel like changing my field from hep to something else in cond-mat/qc, it seems UPenn does not have a lot to offer. But UMD has a smaller experimental hep group than UPenn (which seems to have a lot of hep-th and hep-ex researchers, despite being "lower ranked" than UMD, which is a little weird).

Now if I could just get some more inputs about UPenn's graduate courses, program structure, it would help. I think there is no qualifying examination at UPenn..does this matter for academic cred at all (just wondering)? Its a tough choice!! I suppose I want to know which of these PhD programs offers the most diverse exposure. Maybe going to the open houses would have helped.

More inputs on OSU and UPenn would be appreciated folks. Thanks!

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:31 pm

SSM wrote:I don't know how good the Ohio State hep-th department is in terms of rank or anything. It's pretty small-average sized, maybe 6-10 professors. I've had a lot of them for classes and know that they're all nice people, would be fun to work with.


Can you tell me who? Are they actively pursuing hep-th research, or have they switched exclusively to cold-atoms or physics education research?

axiomofchoice
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby axiomofchoice » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:42 pm

I don't know if any people on the board have answer to your questions. The only way (beside talking to professors working in the field) to find out if the professors are active in the field is to look at their recent publication. If they haven't published anything in hep-th since 2008, that's probably not a good sign. The only reason I mention Raman Sundrum (well, beside the fact that he's a big name) is that he just left Hopkins for UMD recently, and UMD has to have a good environment for him to join them.

bfollinprm
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:50 pm

snowflake2011 wrote:But UMD has a smaller experimental hep group than UPenn (which seems to have a lot of hep-th and hep-ex researchers, despite being "lower ranked" than UMD, which is a little weird).



The difference between the schools isn't great enough to assume any individual program at UMCP is better than U Penn. College Park is much more broad, and that's the reason for its higher ranking--you need to be very good in a broad set of subfields for a randomly selected group of physicists to highly rank your university. If you know exactly what you want to do, the rankings matter a lot less than the specific faculty.

OSU is an aging in their theoretical faculty across the board, so they're going to have a few down years. It's a natural part of the life cycle of top 20 (not top 10) schools--specializations are built all at once, so they get old all at once. In the meantime, quality faculty can't find work at OSU because their theory chairs are filled by the graybeards, and the specialization moves elsewhere. They'll come back with some new specialization sometime soon in the future...

axiomofchoice wrote:If they haven't published anything in hep-th since 2008, that's probably not a good sign.

More like 2010, unless they indicate somewhere that they are actively pursuing new grad students (which might mean they're on the verge of a great idea).

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:26 am

Thank you for the responses guys. I cant say I am clearer about the choice. Twinb87, thanks for the detailed info on maryland..much appreciated! It seems the choice boils down to UPenn and UMD. OSU seems to have a fairly inactive hep group, nobody working on quantum information, and also very few active people working on condmat-th. Even in hep-ex, UPenn seems to have a stronger group than OSU.

SPat
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby SPat » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:56 am

snowflake2011 wrote:OSU seems to have a fairly inactive hep group, nobody working on quantum information, and also very few active people working on condmat-th.

I don't know about other areas, but I know at least two very good cond-matt theory groups (in HTCs etc.) at OSU

SSM
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby SSM » Sat Mar 26, 2011 1:08 am

snowflake2011 wrote:
SSM wrote:I don't know how good the Ohio State hep-th department is in terms of rank or anything. It's pretty small-average sized, maybe 6-10 professors. I've had a lot of them for classes and know that they're all nice people, would be fun to work with.


Can you tell me who? Are they actively pursuing hep-th research, or have they switched exclusively to cold-atoms or physics education research?


Almost all of them actually have had dedicated teaching appointments at one time or another since I've been there. Shigemitsu, Raby, and Mathur are still in active theory research, but Mathur and Raby are primarily string theory. Braaten does cold-atom research and Kilcup focuses on teaching.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:10 pm

What do you mean by dedicated teaching appointments? Does it mean that a person is allowed to devote all his time to teaching, but do no research and hence take no new students? Also, does OSU have any non-string theoretic phenomenologists?

SSM
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby SSM » Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:31 pm

All of them at one time or another have had to teach an undergrad advanced lecture that I've noticed, and professors at Ohio State from hep-th have to teach these classes more frequently then professors from other sub-areas. There isn't really an allowed amount they have to spend with the class, and some of them interact with their grad student and probably take on new students while their teaching. Whether they are too dedicated to the class to do research at the same time kind of depends on who the professor is. I know that Braaten and Shigemitsu do research while their teaching, but Kilcup doesn't do much research. I don't know how much or little Mathur or Raby do.

Shigemitsu (and Kilcup, when he's finally ready to do research again) focus more on phenomenology. They both do lattice gauge theory stuff, but I don't know much beyond that.

EDIT: I don't know if you call it hep-th phenomenology, but if you're interested in astroparticle research at all there are probably more professors at CCAPP for you to choose from.

http://ccapp.osu.edu/archive.html

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Wed Mar 30, 2011 2:25 pm

Thanks SSM. I was referring to hep-th in general, including phenomenology. I do not know if the two professors you listed are really taking new students, Do you know people at OSU working on LHC phenomenology?

peko
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby peko » Thu Mar 31, 2011 1:13 am

Mathur at OSU, although a string theorist, does work with quantum information. I'm sure it stems from the whole black hole fuzz ball information paradox he's been working on. Also at OSU, I was told that it doesn't work quite like that, as in professors "taking" new students but you could easily send an e-mail to find out, Shigemitsu is a very nice person.

snowflake2011
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby snowflake2011 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:53 am

Peko, thanks for the info, though I'm not sure what you meant. There's a difference between string theory, the information paradox and quantum information theory/quantum computing. Of course, I don't deny the links. Anyhow, my worry about OSU was that a lot of people tell me that the hep group is virtually inactive as far as active graduate research goes, in areas other than string theory. UMD seems to have a more dynamic group, as others have pointed out, with Raman Sundram recently joining. I am still not clear between UMD and UPenn.

Twinb87 how is College Park as a city?

twinb87
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby twinb87 » Thu Mar 31, 2011 11:21 am

snowflake2011 wrote:Twinb87 how is College Park as a city?


College Park is not that great of a city. There isn't a lot to do in the city itself, it's a little crowded (although I grew up in the country so I may be biased here) and there are parts of it that are not that safe. The campus itself is quite nice though. I actually live in a much nicer town that is a short drive from College Park so I don't spend a whole lot of time there myself (not counting the time I spend on campus of course. I wouldn't say it is the worse place in the world to spend 5-6 years of your life in but there are much nicer locations.

SSM
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby SSM » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:52 pm

snowflake2011 wrote:Thanks SSM. I was referring to hep-th in general, including phenomenology. I do not know if the two professors you listed are really taking new students, Do you know people at OSU working on LHC phenomenology?


I don't know any theorists off-hand whose research is in LHC phenomenology. I do know several experimentalists that are doing LHC research though, and they are also very nice and will definitely take on new grad students. They might also know theorists in the department who I'm not aware of. You might want to contact Brian Winer or Richard Hughes.

nanasy2
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Re: University of Maryland, College Park vs UPenn vs Ohio State

Postby nanasy2 » Thu Sep 29, 2011 6:18 am

In terms of inactive professors, I would say that is not true as the department is quite big and has many professors active doing research. Also, as I said earlier, the opportunities for an advisor are not just limited to the physics department.




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