Student Talks and Awards

Student talks are 12 minutes long with a 3-minute question-and-answer session.

Poster dimensions are 4 ft x 4 ft.

Student talks will be categorized into the following divisions:

  • Applied Physics
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Biological and Medical Physics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Physics
  • Particle and Nuclear Physics
  • Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

Every talk and poster will be judged by two grad students, and evaluation forms will be sent to speakers electronically.

Feedback forms will be handed out to the audience for questions and comments; these will be sent to speakers electronically for follow-up.

Each division, and the poster category promises medals for the top three speakers, as well as a trophy for the top speaker.

Sponsored prizes are offered for some divisions:


Applied Physics

Alan Manning
Angel Valerio
Angel is a four year doctoral fellow in the Sustainability Solutions Applied Physics Laboratory at UBC working on applied optics. He has a Masters in Energy by the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico with a Technology Entrepreneurship Diploma by the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich. Angel holds peer-reviewed and international conference publications on low cost energy saving solutions and is the founder of two international award winning technology based companies. His current research is focused on light transmissive highly insulated structures for food production.

Astronomy and Applied Physics

Majorie Gonzalez
Marjorie completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Manitoba and PhD at McGill University. Her astrophysics work has concentrated on using compact objects to learn about high-energy astrophysics processes and fundamental physics. She has studied neutron stars and associated objects such as supernova remnants, pulsar wind nebulae, pulsars and magnetars primarily at X-ray and radio wavelenghts. She has also worked on international efforts to detect gravitational waves using an array of radio pulsars distributed throughout the sky.
Tessa Vernstrom
Tessa is a 26 year old PhD student in the astronomy department at UBC. She received her Masters Degree in Astronomy from UBC last year. Tessa is originally from Minnesota. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Minnesota in Astrophysics in 2008. She is currently working with Professors Jasper Wall and Douglas Scott. Her current research projects include the radio background, radio-far infrared correlation, high redshift galaxy evolution in the radio and infrared. Past, undergraduate, research projects included dark matter halo density profiles as well as working with infrared telescope technology.

Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics

Martin Bitter

Born and raised in Germany, Martin started his first degree in Physics at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany in October 2003. After an exciting year on exchange at the National University of Singapore and one year of research at UBC, he finished with a Masters degree about six years later.

Martin has had a fantastic time in Vancouver and BC, enjoying the outdoors (skiing, climbing, mountain biking) and finding his passion in the field of Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics. Now, he is doing his PhD in the Coherent Control Group of Valery Milner.

Omid Nourbakhsh
Being impressed by the personality and knowledge of his high school Physics teacher, Omid chose Physics as his major. He studied his Bachelors in applied Physics in Isfahan University of Technology, which was followed by a Masters in Atomic and Molecular Physics from the University of Isfahan. Omid's Master’s thesis was on “Remote Sensing of Air Pollutants using FT-IR Spectroscopy”. In 2009 he joined UBC as an Atomic and Molecular Physics PhD student working with Professor Takamasa Momose . His interests are Spectroscopy, Lasers and optics, and Cold Molecules. Right now he am working on AC and DC molecular decelerators.

Biological and Medical Physics

Firas Moosvi
Firas did his BSc. at UBC in Honours Biophysics, then moved to the University of Toronto for an MSc. and has since returned for a PhD. at UBC in Medical Physics. He is interested in all things Medical Biophysics and in particular, is exploring non-invasive imaging methods of assessing novel cancer therapies using MRI. Firas has also organized several seminar series and given plenty of talks to a wide variety of audiences. He has a keen interest in education and outreach, and hopes that the CUPC presenters this year can teach him much!
Roja Zakariaee
Roja Zakariaee completed her undergraduate studies in Physics at Sharif University of Technology, Iran. She came to Canada in 2006 to continue her studies at Simon Fraser University, where she received her MSc in Physics. She worked at SFU for a year after finishing her Masters and in 2010 started her PhD in Medical Physics at University of British Columbia. Roja works as a research assistant in BC Cancer Agency and her project is about dose assessment of deformable organs at risk in Brachytherapy of Cervical Cancer.

Condensed Matter Physics

Mahyad Aghigh

In 2006, Mahyad began his undergraduate studies in Engineering Physics in Iran. After 2 years, he along with some of his classmates established a research group and started some experiments on the synthesis of different Metal-Oxide Nanoparticles using electric arc discharge method, and investigated their photocatalytic properties. The results have been published in some peer-reviewed journals. Mahyad also gave talks on the results of these projects in two international conferences at one of which he was elected as the best presenter in the field. Soon after, he began his Master's degree in Physics here at UBC, and is now pursuing his research in the field of High-Tc Superconductivity.

Besides academic life, Mahyad travels as much as possible. During the past year, he has been to different places inside Canada such as Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec city, Whistler and of course Vancouver. He have also plans to extent these more to some places outside of Canada.

Shahzad Ghanbarian
Shahzad obtained her BSc. in 2005 and MSc. in 2007 studying Condensed Matter Physics at the Isfahan University of Technology, Iran. She then spent a year in Italy at the Abdul Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics receiving a Diploma again in Condensed matter physics. Since then she has moved to Canada and is pursuing a PhD in Computational Physics at UBC researching like-charge attraction and nonlocal dielectric response under the supervision of Prof. Joerg Rottler.

Particle and Nuclear Physics

Natasha Holmes
Natasha Holmes is a 2nd year PhD student in the Physics & Astronomy Department at UBC. She completed her BSc. (Hons) in Physics at the University of Guelph, and then moved to beautiful Vancouver to start her Master's in 2009. She jumped between various areas of physics and astronomy, before discovering the world of Physics Education Research. Her Master's and PhD work so far has been researching how to improve undergraduate physics labs, and studying new ways to teach various lab skills, such as data handling and experimental design.
Philippe Sabella Garnier
Philippe was born in Montreal, Quebec. After being raised in various places around the world, including West Africa and the Caribbean, he came back to Montreal to attend McGill University. He earned a joint honours in Mathematics and Physics in May 2011. Phillippe's first research experience was in experimental particle physics at the University of Montreal and later started doing research in quantum gravity at McGill. He started his M.Sc. at the University of British Columbia and transferred to the Ph.D. programme in September 2012. His research focuses on string theory, more specifically on geometries emerging from matrix models. Outside physics, his main interests lie in history, politics and learning new languages.

Theoretical and Mathematical Physics

Connor Behan
Connor Classen Behan was born in the Wellesley Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on August 10, 1989 at around 17:00. A few years later, he did what only 18% of Americans have done and met a scientist. Connor now knows so many that hardly a day goes by when he does not see one or talk to one. In 2011, he graduated from Queen's University with a degree in mathematical physics and is now pursuing a Master's in physics at UBC. When He's not in Hennings trying to understand entropic gravity, Connor enjoys skiing at Whistler, editing Wikipedia and trying to program for If you go to CUPC and hear somebody quoting Inception or Pulp Fiction for hours on end, that's probably him. Best of luck to all the participants!
Jared Stang
Jared is a PhD student at UBC in the field of high energy physics. Originally from Calgary, he completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto before moving to Vancouver.