First and foremost, all astronomy undergraduates are welcome at all Department of Astronomy talks and seminars including the infamous Astro Coffee. Much of the content of each meeting or talk may go over your head when you are first starting out. This is true for graduate students who have taken more astrophysics as well. There is a learning curve to understanding talks and topics discussed. Many people presenting have been in the field for years and forget they are using complicated jargon that not everyone in the room uses daily. The Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) students are required to attend Astro Coffee the summer they are involved and ask questions. If you want to talk to them about their experiences, DO IT!
DOs for Astro Coffee (and other seminars)
- Ask questions if you do not understand! This can be in Zoom chat, speaking up, or even the person next to you in the room. Don't think because you do not understand you can't get an explanation. Many others in the room may have the same question.
- Ask your professors questions after coffee or after class about things you found interesting or complicated. Undergraduates often ask how to strike up a conversation with a faculty member, this is one way of doing it!
- Go as often as you are able. It takes time to see that the same topics are brought up each week and you too can understand more and more over time. Read a paper, discuss it with others in your peer group, and keep learning. Astro Coffee is a tool for all of us.
- We are in-person, so sit where you want. You may get looks from people that you might find curious but they are only wondering who you are, not if you should be there. This is an opportunity to say hello and introduce yourself.
- If you feel bold, you should talk with someone about how to present a paper at Astro Coffee. Whether or not you plan on going into the field, this is a good skill to learn. Undergraduates should not feel pressured into presenting but you can if you like.
- If you have your name on a paper, then you WILL be asked to present your research. It is still a low-stakes presentation, you just do your best to explain the results and project.
The takeaways from this are to not be afraid of coming to any seminar to learn more and be more active within the department. You should not feel obligated to come either, as you already have busy schedules. We can't wait to see more of you.