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Survival Guide to McCone Hall

A Guide for Earth and Planetary Science Undergraduates

Giving you the inside scoop on societies, events, classes worth taking and good people to meet!

Groups to join:

The Society for Women in the Physical Sciences (SWPS): We’re it! We offer a mentoring program that matches physics/astro/EPS undergrads with grad student mentors for get-togethers to discuss research and life in these departments, visit labs or just hang out. This program also organizes monthly events which focus on women’s issues in the physical sciences. To join or for more information email or see the website at: The EPS undergraduate society can email Margie Winn for more information.

Geology Association at Berkeley (GAB): The Geological Association at Berkeley (GAB) is a student group for Earth and Planetary Science majors, and all others interested in the geosciences. Activities include camping trips, day hikes, and weekly meetings, where members enjoy pizza, current events, and “Geopardy”, a geological spin on the well known trivia game. It’s an excellent way to meet other people in the department and to have some great adventures along the way. All majors welcome. Meetings are Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in 325 McCone Hall, beginning on September 7th, 2010.

Society of Physics Students (SPS): SPS offers informal peer advising, special lectures for undergraduates, lab tours, student/faculty mixers and social events, job and internship information, and national membership to the American Physics Society (APS), the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and more. These services are available for all students, but if you want to really get involved, join the planning committee! To get info about SPS events visit the SPS office in 275 L.C. (642-2197) or see their website: To get on the mailing list, e-mail

Weekly events:

Friday Brown Bags: Every Friday EPS grad students have an informal brown bag lunch in 325 McCone where they present their own research to each other and eat pizza. Undergraduates are welcome. The Fall 2010 schedule is posted here
EPS Department Colloquium: On Thursdays at 4:00 PM in 141 McCone Hall, students, post docs and faculty gather to hear scientists from around the country lecture on areas of current research in geology, geophysics, biogeology, atmospheric science, astrophysics and more. This is a great opportunity to learn about current research in geology and related fields and meet graduate students and faculty. A listing of colloquia speakers and topics can be found on the department web site at Come to the ground floor of McCone by the elevators 15 minutes before colloquia for coffee, tea and cookies! You can chat with other undergraduate students, graduate students, post docs, professors, and colloquia speakers. Â Immediately following colloquia is beer on the 5th floor balcony where you can talk more with geology students and faculty.

Learning opportunities:

EPS 39: Take this class if you are a freshman when it is offered! It’s a field trip class and a great way to decide if geology is your thing. Highly recommended by all.
EPS 260: Weekly seminar for undergrads and new graduate students to introduce them to the research groups in the department. Each week a different professor talks about his/her work. It’s highly recommend that undergraduates take it to get a feel for the field and find out what research is going on in the department. Check out the course catalog for meeting times. This course is only offered in the Fall semester.
Student Learning Center: The SLC offers three kinds of academic support for science students: drop-in tutoring, study groups, and mock exams. Drop-in (absolutely no appointment necessary!) tutoring is offered for a variety of subjects including physics, chemistry, math, economics, statistics, writing, and more. Study groups are workshops that meet two hours a day, twice a week and are led by advanced students. You must sign up at the beginning of the semester. Mock exams are 60-minute-long practice tests given the weekend before the midterm exam. They focus on the main and more difficult topics of the course. No sign up is necessary but do check the web site to see if classes are full.
Students recommend the SLC more than any other tutoring resource. For more information including a schedule of drop-in tutoring times and how to sign up for classes, visit their website at or stop by the first floor of the Cesar Chavez Student Union on lower Sproul.  Contact Richard Gibson if you are interested in a tutoring position (in exchange for pay or for credit!).
Thin Section Lab: A workshop in 445 McCones where students can prepare samples for research. Tim Teague runs the lab and will tell you how to section a rock for mineral identification or SEM use.
Machine Shop Class: The class is self-paced, so you put in time when you have it. The instructor Joseph gives guidance to hands-on projects. It’s fun and you keep what you make! You must have a professor who will sponsor you. Physics students without a sponsor should contact Claudia Trujillo. Start by picking up a sign-up card from Joseph in the graduate student shop (118 LeConte). Dave Smith operates the professional EPS machine shop in 435 McCone, which is also open to students.
The Earth Sciences Library: Located in the ground floor of McCone. It’s a well-lit, quiet place to study. Unlike most of the other department libraries on campus, McCone’s library is rarely crowded and provides a most relaxing study atmosphere. Learn more at

Summer Internships and Research:

The “Informal” Way to find a research position: Talk to professors!
The best way to find a research position is to talk to professors. Identify a couple professors whose research potentially interests you (see below on tips of how to do this) and send them an email or drop by their office to set up a time to meet and talk to them about their research. Almost every professor has a page briefly describing their research and listing their publications. Look over their page, find what specifically interests you, and mention that briefly in your email (or office visit). Come with questions for them when you meet. Professors love to talk about their research, and by taking initiative and showing interest in their specialty, you may be on your way to a research project.
They may or may not have funding to pay you. Regardless, the experience that you will gain and the exposure to the field is invaluable when applying for graduate schools and securing future research positions. Not to mention the importance of good recommendation letters. If the professor you approach does not have any work for you, ask him or her to refer you to someone else. Professors are very resourceful and if you are persistent, they will help you. By the way, if you are confused about how to find the right professor to approach to begin with, try the following three resources:
Another good resource for finding a research position is the official UC Berkeley research website: You may also apply for summer REU research positions on the National Science Foundation website The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory just up the hill from campus may also have summer research or work opportunities.

Good people to know:

Professor Roland Burgmann, EPS Department Chair: Professor Burgman is approachable, and welcomes the opportunity to talk to undergraduates. Introduce yourself to him at tea and cookies or send him an email He’s a great resource.
Most importantly, your professors are a great source of information. Approach them with questions about their research (they love to talk about it) or with questions concerning your future.

Female faculty in the Earth and Planetary Science department:
Prof. Kristie Boering (Atmospheric Chemistry): boering@cchem 642-3472
Prof. Inez Fung (Atmospheric Science): ifung@uclink4 643-9367
Prof. Lynn Ingram (Geology, Geophysics, Geography): ingram@socrates 643-1474
Prof. Barbara Romanowicz (Geophysics): barbara@seismo 642-3977
Prof. Jill Banfield (Geomicrobiology): jill@seismo 642-9488
GSI’s: Don’t be intimidated! They’re students just like you, and it hasn’t been that long since they were in your shoes. If you’re lost in a class, they can get you back on track. If you don’t find your GSI particularly helpful, then try another. Graduate students roam the halls and many love to spread their knowledge.

Catherine Pauling: Catherine is the Student Affairs Officer for undergraduate students. Talk to her about geology major requirements and declaring a geology major, finding students or faculty, and any other department information, or just stop by and say hi! Another resource for information about majors in the EPS department and requirements are found on the EPS undergraduate website Â

Margie Winn, EPS Student Services Coordinator: Margie can also answer questions you have and will take care of you as a geo student at Berkeley. She’s very nice, and she has chocolate in her office. You can find Margie in 305 McCone and or email her at
Dean Mark Richards, Dean of the College of Letters and Science, EPS Professor: He’s very approachable and really good to students. If you have a particularly difficult problem that you can’t work out in the department, he’s a good person to go to. He’s always open to good ideas which encourage students to succeed in the division. If you want to create a special program that goes across departments, he will be interested to hear your idea. Email him at

Colette Patt, Director of Physical Sciences Student Diversity Programs: Colette is a great woman to know. She’s full of information about resources, knows who and where to refer you to, and she is down to Earth. She’s particularly available to students who add to the diversity of the Physical Sciences Department. She’s available to advise you on any matter related to your success in science, difficulties or dilemmas you may be facing at the university, and/or if you are considering going to graduate school in the physical sciences. If you have good ideas for programs to increase diversity in our departments (like SWPS), see her! 642-0794 (

Department of EPS
University of California
307 McCone Hall #4767
Berkeley, CA 94720-4767
phone: 510-642-3993
fax: 510-643-9980