Launchpad Agenda

Wednesday, June 15

Session 1: Find Your Community at UBC! Affinity & Support Groups, Student Clubs (4:00pm – 5:30pm) / HEBB 116

Meet Launchpad participants, staff, mentors and members of UBC affinity & support groups including Olaitan Ogunnote and Francis Kpatakpa from the Black Graduate student Network, the Disability Graduate student Association, the PHAS Graduate Student Association, Marisa Ortiz from the UBC Equity & Inclusion office (EIO), Isabelle St-Martin from the PHAS Equity & Inclusion Group and student clubs to learn more about graduate student resources, supports, actions and networks on campus.

Meet affinity & support group representatives at dinner (6:00pm)

Thursday, June 16


Welcome/Introduction (8:50am) / HEBB 116

Session 2: Stepping into the field: Understanding Graduate research, projects, and participation (9:00am – 10:30am) / HEBB 116

Learn from PHAS grads and their supervisors on how they picked their research topics, work with their supervisors, and how graduate projects develop. Get tips and advice from grad school day-to-day demands to participating in collaborative research. Presenters: Jeremy Heyl, Alison Lister, Robin Newhouse, Alannah Hallas, Mario Gonzalez, Mona Berciu, Stepan Fomichev, Carl Michal and Luke Reynolds.

Graduate student panel: Student Life at UBC (10:35am – 12:05pm) / HEBB 116

Join graduate students on the topics of how to select your research group/supervisor, and maintain a life-work balance in graduate school life. Presenters: Leesa Fleury, Pedro Villalba González, Mario Ulises Gonzalez Rivas, Shovon Biswas, Isabelle St-Martin and Stepan Fomichev.

Lunch: meet with UBC Physics & Astronomy faculty and graduate students (12:15pm – 1:15pm) *not available for remote streaming


Session 3: Lab Tours: PHAS/Hennings, SBQMI, TRIUMF (1:30pm – 5:30pm)

Join us on a lab tour with graduate student and faculty hosts to meet researchers and see the facilities at UBC’s Department of Physics & Astronomy, the Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute, and TRIUMF, Canada’s particle accelerator centre.

Meet your mentors at dinner (6:30pm)

Friday, June 17


Session 4: Career Panel: Making Your Career Launch! (9:30am – 11:30am) / HEBB 116

Learn about different career paths in Physics, Astronomy, Engineering Physics and Physics Education as well as some of the obstacles out there and how to overcome them. Presenters: Miriam Cabero (EarthDaily Analytics), Linda Strubbe (Strubbe Educational Consulting), Catia Baron (D-Wave) and Shadi Balandeh (AI Analytics manager, TELUS). 

Meet panel speakers at lunch (11:30am -12:30pm) *not available for remote streaming


An Afternoon in the Lab (2:00pm – 5:00pm)

Spend an afternoon at a lab of your choice with researchers and faculty members. Participate in day-to-day activities, projects, group meetings and planning.

Labs available at SBQMI, PHAS (ATLAS, LIGO/LISA, CHIME, PTA, NANOGrav, Stellar Astrophysics Group) and TRIUMF. Participating researchers: Mona Berciu, Ziliang Ye, Andrea Damascelli, Sarah Burke, Alannah Hallas, Alison Lister, Jess McIver, Mark Halpern, Gary Hinshaw, Ingrid Stairs and Jeremy Heyl.             

Session 5: Moving2Canada (2:00pm – 3:30pm) *online session

Are you considering studying in Canada? Join Lilian Bandeira (UBC International Advising, Linda Strubbe (Educational Consultant, Strubbe Educational Consulting) and Allison Man ( Assistant Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy) on topics from things to know before moving to Canada (visa, health insurance, how to seek medical care, options available to accompanying family members, and regulations for working in Canada as graduate student) to the opportunities and challenges students might experience as international students in Canada. Current UBC international graduate students Pedro Villalba González, Michelle Medina and Mario Ulises Gonzalez Rivas will share their experiences followed by an overall Q&A session.

Social Dinner (6:00pm – 7:30pm) followed by Graduate Student Association Pub Social

Saturday, June 18


Session 6: How to apply to UBC Graduate programs and secure funding support (9:00am – 12:00pm)

Dr. Jeremy Heyl (PHAS Professor) and Shane Moore (Marketing & Recruitment Manager, UBC Graduate Pathways to Success program – GPS) will provide advice and strategies on making your grad school application as strong as possible. They’ll cover the key elements of the grad school application such as the statement of interest, how to reach out to a supervisor and how to make sure your references add maximum value to your application.  They’ll also focus on specifically on the PHAS application and funding options, providing key insights into how admissions decisions are made and what we look for in candidates. This hands on seminar will leave you ready to put together a strong grad school application, whether you apply UBC or another graduate school.

  • 9:00am – 9:45am: Strategies to improve graduate school applications  (Shane Moore)
  • 9:45am – 10:30am: Graduate Studies in Physics and Astronomy – How to apply (Jeremy Heyl)
  • 10:30am – 10:45am – Break
  • 10:45am – 11:30am: Hands on – activity  for all participants (in-person and online) – Articulating your key strengths and experiences: In this hands-on activity we’ll work in pairs to begin developing the key points you can highlight in future grad school applications.  
  • 11:30am – 11:50am: Next steps – What if your application is successful? What if it is unsuccessful? 
  • 11:50am – 12:00pm: Debriefing and closing

How does Mentorship work?

Participants are paired up with UBC Physics & Astronomy mentors (graduate students and post-docs) who advise on how to apply for graduate programs and to build a network of supports. Mentors will continue to be in touch to provide support and guidance in the participants’ journey in applying for graduate schools in the future.

Covid Response

About our Launchpad workshop COVID-19 response: The Launchpad workshop will be conducted in accordance to current BC Public Health Orders. Additional information can be found on the UBC COVID-19 Resource website. Significant changes to this event format will be communicated to participants as early as possible.

Thank you Contributors!

Launchpad was realized through the generous help, time, energy and hard work from our contributors, organizers, mentors, presenters and many other students, staff and faculty across UBC, PHAS, SBQMI and TRIUMF. Thank you everyone for representing our amazing community at UBC! This initiative provided key opportunities for students interested in research-oriented graduate programs and careers in Physics & Astronomy to explore ideas, meet professionals in the field and enjoy rich dialogue and connections. We are proud of our collaborative efforts to envision the Launchpad Workshop and we look forward to hosting similar events in future.

We’d like to note a special thanks to our graduate student IT Coordinators, Raelyn Sullivan and Tomasz Andrzejewski with support from Alan Knee for videography during the lab tour, and Event Coordinators Pedro Villalba González and Mario Ulises Gonzalez Rivas for all of their work behind the scenes. A big thank you also goes out to our lab tour hosts Brian Kootte and Luca Egoriti at TRIUMF, James Day and Sarah Burke at SBQMI, and Pedro Villalba González at PHAS as well as our ‘Afternoon at the lab’ Coordinators Alannah Hallas, Jess McIver and Marcello Pavan. Finally, with great appreciation we thank Mai Yasue, Adele Ruosi and Emma Davy for providing the training workshop “Mentoring historically marginalized students” for our graduate student mentors.

To our sponsors, thank you for your generous support of students at UBC.

For everyone else who supported us in a multitude of ways in hosting this initiative, thank you again for your part in helping to make this program a success!


The Launchpad Steering Committee: Jeremy Heyl, Sarah Burke, Adele Ruosi, Janis McKenna, Theresa Liao and Kirsty Dickson