MCS GSAC Meeting Minutes
November 2, 2001

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November 2, 2001

In Attendance:
Ed Horsey (Biological Sciences)
Ayse Celil (Biological Sciences)
Pushan Chowdhury (Chemistry)
Kathryn Trapp (Mathematical Sciences)
Abraham Flaxman (Mathematical Sciences)
Abhijit Brahme (Physics)
Marc Fasnacht (Physics)
David Owen (MCS Dean's Office)
Katya Malkin (MCS Dean's Office)

2000 GSAC Minutes Archive

This year's minutes:

January 23, 2001

February 13, 2001

April 17, 2001

October 12, 2001

1. Social Event/Poster Session
The subcommittee for this year's event, Ed, Kate, Pushan, and Abhijit, reported the following.

More food should be provided this year so we don't run out. Maybe less options or cheaper items would allow this. Katya will get a list of all of the options from Catering and find out about outside catering options for our next meeting.

Poster Backing:
Most of the departments have backing for posters available. Members will check on this and see how much there is. If additional backing is needed, it can be purchased at the art store.

The group would like to consider giving more flexible prizes. Prizes that could be used for other educational purposes (in addition to travel to scientific conferences) might be possible. David will check with Sharon McCarl to see if this is an option.

The group would also like to try to get more poster presenters from each department so that one prize could be distributed to each department.

It was decided that e-mails do not typically get a lot of response and that more people are likely to attend and participate in the event if GSAC members visit them personally and invite them to come. Several weeks should be given so that students have time to prepare a new poster or modify an existing one.

Other ideas:
The group thought that it would be a good idea to try other types of events that foster more social interaction between departments. One suggestion was an MCS Happy Hour. Funding for the Happy Hour might be available from GSA or from the departments. Suggested spaces were the Mellon Institute Conference/Social Rooms, the UC, and the atrium in Newell Simon Hall. Estimated costs for approximately 50 people, serving pizza and beer (cases), were $400 - $500. The group also thought that it would be a good idea to do this twice per year or semester, so that one event could be held on campus and one could be held in Mellon. David will check his budget as well.

Another idea was to have a tea or ice cream social. An ice cream social could be held outside in the spring and both of these options would be less expensive.

GSAC will put together a rough proposal and budget for an MCS Happy Hour / Tea / Ice Cream Social and present it at our next meeting. Pushan and Marc volunteered to do this.

2. Policy on Ombudspersons
David asked the Department Heads to try to get opinions from their faculty about this policy. If we can get a sufficient response in favor of the policy, it will go to College Council for approval.

3. Meeting with the Dean
Rick McCullough, new Dean of MCS, will attend our next meeting, which will be held in MI 434 from 9:00 -10:30. The group was asked to think of any questions or concerns that they would like to discuss with the Dean in preparation for this meeting. The following topics were proposed:
  • Status of the common lounge for biology and chemistry
  • Repairs and maintenance to Mellon Institute
  • Possibility of subsidizing health insurance for graduate students
Specific concerns related to these items and any additional items should be e-mailed to David prior to the meeting. II. PROPOSED DATABASE OF INFORMATION FOR PROSPECTIVE AND CURRENT STUDENTS
Members reviewed their departmental web sites to see if this information was currently available and we could simply provide links to it from our site. Everyone found that degree requirements, though perhaps not as specific as they could be, were available on the departmental sites. Information about student support (i.e., stipends, teaching requirements, etc) is available in the catalog, which is down-loadable from the HUB web site. Faculty information, including recent publications, was available on all sites, though some sites list "selected publications" which might not show the pattern of publication over time that students are interested in seeing. Information about faculty grants, time to complete degree, and where students go after graduation was not available on any departmental sites. Pushan commented that Chemistry's site could use a more informative section on graduate students.

Members were asked to raise these issues with the specific faculty members in their departments who are involved with the web sites. Here is a list of the departmental sites and the people who maintain them:
  • Biological Sciences - Jennifer Sciullo, jsemper
  • Chemistry - Nicole Reading, nreading
  • Mathematical Sciences - Nicole Reading, nreading
  • Physics - Mike Widom, widom

Members were asked to get more feedback from their departments about whether or not students feel that an additional resource for fellowship and grant information is needed and if a workshop for students looking for additional fellowships or grants would be a good idea.


Katya has contacted the program coordinators for each department to remind them to send copies of thesis defense announcements to the Dean's office so that they can be posted on the bulltin board outside DH 1324. Any additional publicity items that you would like to have posted on the bulleting board should be given to Katya. Also, keep in mind that we can publish such items in the Graduate Times, Carnegie Mellon News, or 81/2 x 11. If you have something that you would like to publish, please let Katya or David know.

David has contacted Renee Starek, MCS Career Consultant, about working with the GSAC to develop a career seminar for next semester. The seminar will consist of a panel of scientists who are working in non-academic careers. Members should be prepared to summarize our discussions of this topic for Renee, who will attend our next meeting.

Departmental responses to the Career Seminar idea were:

Biological Sciences
- there is not currently a high demand for this type of thing, but it would probably be well attended if offered

Chemistry and Mathematical Sciences
- this would probably be useful and well attended

- there was no response.

Friday, November 30 from 9:00 - 10:30 in MI 434. Rick McCullough and Renee Starek will also be in attendance.