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Explore the SRI

At many universities undergraduates have the opportunity to engage in scientific research only in their junior or senior years. Yet successful scientists all have the same core attributes—curiosity, communication skills and a willingness to learn interdisciplinary techniques— traits that many students already possess as first yea students. In 2020, College of Science will give hundreds of undergraduates the opportunity to contribute to real research projects the year that they step onto campus.

The Science Research Initiative (SRI) is a team-based program that will connect students to discovery-based research early in their education to gain valuable scientific skills. The vision is to provide an opportunity to do research for any incoming student in the College of Science. Additionally, the cohort model makes research opportunities more equitable for students from all backgrounds.

The initiative is self-sustaining by design with experienced students tasked with training incoming first year students—a model that could allow hundreds of students to contribute to a principal investigator’s research for decades. The initiative has support from the university, the state, and industry partners who see the benefit of producing students who are ready to thrive in Utah’s STEM workforce.

“Research opportunities for undergraduates are transformative experiences. The problem that the college has historically faced is that there are many more science majors than there are openings in faculty research laboratories. The SRI solves that problem by scaling up the model of one-on-one faculty mentorship in the framework of vertically integrated research streams,” said Peter Trapa, Dean of the College of Science.

The SRI aims to give 500 undergraduates per year the opportunity to contribute to scientific discoveries, just like Bridget Phillips, a Crocker Science House Scholar and sophomore biology major with a math minor, had this summer.

Phillips was working in biologist Mike Shapiro’s Pigeon Genetics Lab writing code for a project looking for genes that determine the birds’ eye color. She was mining mountains of data searching for a quantitative trait locus (QTL) peak.

She was comparing the genotypes of two groups of pigeons with different eye colors. Because pigeons breeds are the same species, their genetics should look identical except for the gene locus underpinning eye color.

“I got a QTL peak that showed where the gene might be,” she said, smiling. “It was nice. I impressed the postdocs.”

Phillips has been working in Shapiro’s lab since her freshman year. She is an alum of ACCESS, a program where rising freshman in STEM disciplines join a cohort of like-minded undergrads ahead of their first semester in college. ACCESS facilitated her placement in the lab where she found her passion—coding and genetics, two things she never knew existed in a one career.

“Starting in a lab as a freshman is so useful, but the fear is that you don’t know what you’re doing. But you learn the skills really quickly,” Phillips said. “The earlier you can start, the better. If you find out your freshman year that you don’t like research, that’s good to know. If you like research, like I do, then you know what to aim for.”

The college based the SRI on a similar program at the University of Texas-Austin that impressed Henry White, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and former dean of the college who championed the initiative during his tenure. Since starting the program 20 years ago, UT-Austin has increased enrollment and improved student success, particularly among those from underrepresented groups in STEM fields.

“Students from families who’ve been going to college for generations come to campus recognizing that research opportunities are just as important as the classes themselves,” said White. “This program is meant to promote students who haven’t had the opportunity to be involved in research. We hope to introduce underrepresented, first-generation students to research opportunities, enriching their experience at the U.”

During the first semester, a cohort of students will take a research course to learn basic lab techniques that will replace a traditional prerequisite class. The second semester, the students begin work in a lab led by a principal investigator. They continue the research for their third and fourth semesters, and train an incoming cohort to create a “steady-state” model. During their third year, the students can do an internship or work on an individual project that resembles a more traditional undergraduate lab experience. The college aims to have different streams of research in data science, molecular biology and many disciplines across the College of Science.

In January 2020, a small pilot cohort began the SRI journey. White, Shelley Minteer, professor of chemistry, Markus Babst, professor of biology, and Braxton Osting, professor of mathematics, have committed to developing initial projects. The goal is to eventually have 500 freshmen, sophomores and transfer students participate every year.

SRI brings benefits beyond campus Others outside the university see benefits beyond student success. Funding has come from many sources, including corporate, foundation and individual gifts and workforce development funds from the Utah State Legislature. ARUP Laboratories, a national pathology lab, research facility and a nonprofit enterprise of the University of Utah, and BioFire, a medical diagnostics company, are sponsoring SRI because they view the partnership as mutually beneficial.

“We are constantly looking for well-qualified people to work in labs. It’s a career that’s understaffed—graduates have no problem finding a job, but there’s not a good awareness of this as a possible career path,” said Sherrie Perkins, CEO of ARUP Laboratories and professor of pathology at the U School of Medicine. “We’re so pleased to be a part of this exciting new program and to continue the pipeline of excellent students coming out of the university that we employ.”

Research opportunities indeed open many doors, agreed Rachel Cantrell, a senior chemistry major and Goldwater Scholarship recipient. Also an ACCESS alum, Cantrell has worked in Ryan Looper’s organic synthesis lab since her freshman year. At the time, she thought she wanted to be a pharmacist. Instead, she fell in love with research.

She is developing a scaffold for new antibiotic candidates, a crucial field of inquiry as bacteria are constantly building resistance to current antibiotics. Cantrell’s molecule is modeled after a natural product that kills both bacteria and human cells. Her project focuses on modifying the molecule so that it will only kill the bacteria and leave human cells alone. She plans to pursue a PhD after graduating this year. Beyond the research, the community and networking aspects of ACCESS made a big impact on her life.

“I met a lot of great people there that I’m still friends with. I got to meet faculty and was selected for a scholarship to study in Germany—the community aspect was huge,” she said. To undergrads thinking about whether they want to work in a lab, Cantrell has this advice, “You have to give it a chance. I worked as a pharmacy technician for a while, but I loved being in the lab more. Check out what you like. It can open some huge doors.” The new SRI aims to do just that.

 

 

>> MORE INFO <<

 

 
 - First Published in Discover Magazine, Fall 2019

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Science Ambassadors

science ambassadors


Our College of Science Ambassadors are a group of University of Utah students who are passionate about science and their education. Ambassadors participate in recruitment events including Red White and U day, College of Science events, high school visits, and other STEM recruitment programs, where they assist and communicate with prospective College of Science students.


Alex

Science Ambassador

Alex

Science Ambassador
Hello! I'm Alex, a fourth-year student pursuing a BS in Biology with a Cell and Molecular emphasis and minors in Chemistry and African American Studies. I was born in Venezuela but have lived in Salt Lake for the majority of my life. I am currently a student researcher in Dr. Martin Tristani-Firouzi's lab where I use molecular biological processes to investigate the genetic components of Familial Atrial Fibrillation. My passions include social justice, travel, and family.

Anna

Science Ambassador

Caitlin

Science Ambassador

Caitlin

Science Ambassador
Hi everyone! My name is Caitlin, and I am in my second year pursuing an HBS degree in Chemistry with a Biological Emphasis. I’m originally from Richland, WA – and no, that’s not near Seattle. I’m currently involved in Dr. Sophie Caron's research lab studying the olfactory system in Drosophila (fruit flies). In my free time, I love spending time with friends, hiking, camping and trying new things! I love meeting new people, so stop and say hi if you see me around campus!

Corvin

Science Ambassador

Corvin

Science Ambassador
My name is Corvin. I am majoring in Biological Chemistry and Biology and am currently in my second year. I am an avid skier and spend as much time as possible up in the mountains. My goal is to pursue a PhD/MD and eventually become an oncologist in a research lab or teaching hospital.

Harini

Science Ambassador

Kenzie

Science Ambassador

Kenzie

Science Ambassador
Hi! My name is Kenzie and I am a sophomore majoring in math. I am getting a double minor in linguistics and economics. I love taking fun ESSF classes, going to math-department events, traveling, and being a student at the U!

Mary

Science Ambassador

Mary

Science Ambassador
My name is Mary and I am originally from Denver, Colorado. I am a first year double majoring in Math and Science, Health, Environmental, and Risk Communication. With my degrees, I aim to focus more on the communication and presentation side of science, such as modeling epidemiology or climate change. I am in the Honors College here at the U. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, rafting, hanging out with friends, and adventuring. I am super excited to be a College of Science Ambassador and share my love for science with others!

Sahana

Science Ambassador

Sahana

Science Ambassador
Hi, I’m Sahana. I’m a local Utahn from Sandy and am so excited to be attending the University of Utah. I’m a first year student double majoring in Honors Mathematics and Computer Science. I am looking forward to combining the power of computing with the intricacies of mathematics. While I love all things STEM, I hope to use my knowledge to solve real life problems and bring social reform. My recent computer science research with Dr. Suresh and in conjunction with the ACLU of Utah does just that by using web scraping and data querying to understand trends and identify potential flaws in Utah’s county jails. In my free time, I enjoy performing and teaching Indian classical dance. I also love animals and can talk your ear off with different fun facts. If you ever see me around campus, please introduce yourself! I would be happy to help anyway I can-except with directions!

Sophia

Science Ambassador

Sophia

Science Ambassador
My name is Sophia and I am from Redondo Beach, California. I am a fourth year at the U double majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Genetics and Genomics and Social Work with a minor in Chemistry. I hope to one day pursue an M.D./Ph.D to work in translational medicine. I am currently a student researcher in the McMahon/Kinsey Lab studying pancreatic and colorectal cancer at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I love weight training at the gym, any water sport (surfing, sailing, swimming), and RuPaul’s Drag Race/Dragula.

Tayla

Science Ambassador

Tayla

Science Ambassador
My name is Tayla. I am in my second year pursuing a Biology degree with a Neurobiology Emphasis and minors in Chemistry and Psychology. I was born and raised in Utah and originally from Herriman, Utah. After my undergrad, I hope to be accepted into an MD-PhD program. With this dual degree, I will be able to combine my love for medicine with research. I am currently doing research in Dr. Sophie Caron's neuroscience lab and I get to work with Drosophila (fruit flies) as an animal model. During my free time, I enjoy long-distance running, hiking, exercising, going to sporting events, eating Asian food, and volunteering.

Warren

Science Ambassador

Warren

Science Ambassador
Hello! My name is Warren, and I am starting my second year at the U pursuing a Biology major with a Physiology and Anatomy emphasis and a Chemistry minor. After graduating, I plan to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. program with a research-focused surgical practice. At present, I work in Dr. Hong Mu’s immunology research laboratory as an undergraduate research assistant, exploring immunological pathways and analyzing the effects of environmental factors, specifically Mycoplasma arthritidis mitogen, on the induction and proliferation of rheumatoid arthritis. I also spend at least one day a week working in procedure rooms or the operating room in Endoscopy at the University of Utah medical center. During my free time, I enjoy spending time with friends, hiking, skiing, kayaking, exercising, stargazing, and baking!

Alice

Science Ambassador

Alice

Science Ambassador
Hi! My name is Alice and I’m from Northern California. I’m a sophomore at the U double majoring in Chemistry and International Studies, with a minor in Chinese. Currently I work as an undergraduate researcher in the Puri Lab where we study how bacteria interact with the environment and each other, and how bacteria produce anti-fungal and anti-cancer compounds. Outside of school and research, I love hiking, skiing, playing piano, and volunteering with the American Chemical Society.

Brian

Science Ambassador

Brian

Science Ambassador
Hi, I'm Brian! I am a freshman majoring in physics and piano performance. I'm from Syracuse - Utah, not New York - and I love books, food, and board games. I play piano and cello, and between the two of my majors, I spend far more time locked alone in a practice room or laboratory than is healthy for any sane human being, but I also love being around friends and other people. I am a part of the U's Center for Acoustic Cooling Technology, and build and test thermoacoustic engines. Whether you see me walking around with or without the bow tie, come say hello!

Candace

Science Ambassador

Candace

Science Ambassador
My name is Candace and I am a junior majoring in astrophysics and anthropology. I am from Layton, Utah. I love planning, reading, and origami!

Ella

Science Ambassador

Ella

Science Ambassador
Hey there! My name is Ella and I am entering my junior year at the University of Utah. I am a Chemistry major with a double emphasis in Materials Science and Engineering as well as Biology. Once I graduate with my HBS, I would like to attend graduate school, possibly out of the country if I can swing that. I tend to spend my infrequent free time training on the aerial hoop, going down Googling rabbit holes about random science facts, or trying to catch up on reading all of the classics I missed by not taking AP Lit. If you see me around campus, feel free to ask me questions about chemistry or just say hello!

Jacob

Science Ambassador

Jacob

Science Ambassador
My name is Jacob! This is my fourth year at the U. I'm studying Applied Mathematics with minors in Computer Science and Spanish. I plan on working in cryptography and then teaching high school. I love to sing, dance, read, and just hang out.

Liz

Science Ambassador

Liz

Science Ambassador
My name is Liz, and I am originally from Chicago, Illinois (The Windy City, best deep-dish pizza and hotdogs, and home of the Chicago Cubs)! Currently, I’m a Senior majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Cellular and Molecular Biology. My plan is to attend the University of Utah’s College of Pharmacy, earn a PharmD/PhD, and spread the knowledge of pharmaceuticals to anyone willing to listen. What makes me so special you ask? I enjoy video games, coaching volleyball, all things summer, watching baseball games, building forts with my daughter, and have a passion for science!

Michelle

Science Ambassador

Michelle

Science Ambassador
Hi! My name is Michelle and I am originally from South Korea. I will be starting my senior year this Fall 2020 with a major in Biology with a Genetics & Genomic Emphasis and a minor in Chemistry. I am also in the Honors College. I’m currently working in Dr. Nitin Phadnis’s lab on studying sex-ratio traits in D. pseudoobscura. Other than research and studying, I enjoy running, baking (gluten-free!), climbing, reading, and spending time with my cats. I’m excited to share my passion for the sciences this year!

Shaistah

Science Ambassador

Shaistah

Science Ambassador
Hi everyone! My name is Shaistah and I am from Sandy, Utah. I’m a second year pursuing an honors double major in Health, Society, and Policy and Biology along with minors in Chemistry and Medical Humanities. With my degrees, I aim to focus on both the humanities and scientific aspects of medicine and I plan to pursue medical school after graduating. In the future, I hope to volunteer my time as a physician serving the most vulnerable populations abroad. In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis, bike riding, and spending time with friends and family.

Sydney

Science Ambassador

Sydney

Science Ambassador
Hi! I’m Sydney and I am starting my second year as a Chemistry major with an emphasis in Biology on the pre-med track. I am involved in research through the Velayutham Lab in the Department of Nutrition. In my free time I like to snowboard, climb and paint.

Tushig

Science Ambassador

Tushig

Science Ambassador
Hello! My name is Tushig and I’m currently a sophomore pursuing an Honors Biology Degree with a Spanish minor. I grew up in Park City, but I’m originally from Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Right now, I work as an undergraduate assistant where I help research the function of Tfh cells in development of germinal center B cells during a Malaria infection in the Lamb Lab. During my free time I love to hang out with my friends, sketch random objects, and learn new K-pop dances!

Amaya

Science Ambassador

Bridget

Science Ambassador

Bridget

Science Ambassador
Hello, my name is Bridget and I’m from Salt Lake City, Utah. I am a freshmen studying Cellular and Molecular Biology with a minor in Math. I’m currently in the Dr. Micheal Shapiro Lab working with pigeons to study vertebrae variation and embryonic limb development. I adore journaling, Microbiology, office supplies, and all things science!

Chelsea

Science Ambassador

Chelsea

Science Ambassador
Hi, my name is Chelsea and I will be starting my third year here at the U in Fall 2020. I’m from Saratoga Springs, and I have lived in Utah for most of my life. I am majoring in Biology with an emphasis in Anatomy and Physiology and a minor in Chemistry. I am on the pre-med track, hoping to eventually work in pediatrics. I am also a member of the Honors College. I love watching early 2000’s cartoons, documentaries, and playing with my pets.

Emma

Science Ambassador

Emma

Science Ambassador
Hello! My name is Emma Kerr and I am from Fruit Heights, Utah. I am pursuing a Math and Physics major here at the U seeking an emphasis on computation. I have loved my college experience thus far, and have especially loved my research in the Physics department studying spin dependent electronic processes. After obtaining my undergraduate degree, I hope to work towards a math Ph.D and become a professor and researcher. I love meeting new faces around campus, and when I'm not in school, I enjoy being in the outdoors.

Kay

Science Ambassador

Kay

Science Ambassador
Hello! My name is Kay and I'm going into my 3rd year here at the U. I love the ocean! I'm actually studying math and biology in hopes of doing the mathematical side of marine biology. I'm from the small town of Enterprise, Utah and I'm super excited to be a College of Science Ambassador!

Madi

Science Ambassador

Madi

Science Ambassador
My name is Madi! I am starting my second year here at the University of Utah majoring in Chemistry and Biology. I am currently working as an undergraduate researcher in the Myers Lab at Huntsman Cancer Institute studying transmembrane proteins, extracellular communication and the effects this has on the Hedgehog Pathway. When I’m not studying I enjoy yoga, running, and reading.

Sahar

Science Ambassador

Sahar

Science Ambassador
Hi everyone! My name is Sahar, and I am a second year majoring in biology and business administration. In the future, I plan on pursuing an MD/PhD degree. I was born and raised in Sugarhouse, but my family is originally from Afghanistan. I hope to one day return to Afghanistan and provide medical care and resources. In my free time, I like to hang out with family and friends, hike, and online shop. Go Utes!

Shaylee

Science Ambassador

Shaylee

Science Ambassador
Hey! My name is Shaylee and I'm from Saint George. I am entering my sophomore year pursuing an HBS in Chemistry with an emphasis in Chemical Engineering and Atmospheric and Environmental Chemistry. I'm currently working with fuel cells and electrochemistry in the lovely Dr. Shelley Minteer's lab on campus. I love getting outdoors, Thai food, applying for things I'm not necessarily qualified for (how I ended up here), and long walks in the rain. I'm always here if you have any questions, so feel free to reach out!

Taverly

Science Ambassador

Taverly

Science Ambassador
Hi! My name is Taverly and I’m from Castle Rock, Colorado. I am a fourth year student double majoring in Biophysics & Biochemistry. I one day hope to pursue a PhD in neurobiology studying alternate methods of medicating for mental disorders. I also spend an abundance of my time as a cheesemonger at the Harmons downtown. In my free time you can find me planning events for a service organization or watching movies with my roommates.

Vivek

Science Ambassador

Vivek

Science Ambassador
Heyo! My name is Vivek, hailing from Draper, Utah. I am a freshman majoring in physics with a minor in astronomy. I have had a great time at the U so far and I am thrilled to be one of your College of Science Ambassadors! I aspire to become a professional astronomer and pun master. When I am not approximating cows as spheres, I enjoy doing astronomy outreach, browsing Reddit, learning useless fun trivia, and eating really spicy food!

Academic Advising Video Tutorials

Dominique Pablito

Dominique Pablito

"My interest in medicine stems from my childhood experience."

Dominque Pablito grew up in the small town of Aneth, Utah, on the Navajo Nation, and in New Mexico on the Zuni Reservation. She lived in a four-bedroom house with 13 family members, sharing a bedroom with her mother and brother, and visited relatives for extended stays.

“I spent time with my great grandmother, whose house had no running water or electricity,” said Pablito.

Because her grandparents did not speak English, Pablito learned the Zuni and Navajo languages. Pablito said her father, an alcoholic, came in and out of her life.

“I spent time with his family in the Zuni Pueblo,” said Pablito. “I love the connection that the Zuni have with the land and the spirits of the land.”

With access to math and science courses limited in reservation schools, Pablito convinced her family to move.

“We ran out of gas in Saint George, Utah, where I registered for high school even though my family was unable to find housing,” said Pablito. “During my first quarter at my new school, I slept in a 2008 Nissan Xterra with my mother, brother and grandmother while I earned straight As, took college courses at Dixie State University and competed in varsity cross country.”

Pablito met her goal of graduating from high school in three years, racking up honors and college credits.

“My mother told me I would have to excel in school to get a scholarship for college,” said Pablito. “When I graduated at 15 with an excellent GPA, having taken college courses at night and with exceptional ACT and SAT scores, I was sure I would earn the Gates Millennium Scholarship. It wasn’t enough.”

Dominique Pablito

To compensate, she applied for 15 scholarships and was awarded 12, including the Larry H. Miller Enrichment Scholarship—a full ride.

For Pablito, the transition to college life was jarring.

“It was the first time I had my own bed in my own bedroom,” said Pablito. “I missed being so close to my Zuni culture. I brought small kachina figurines with me and did my best to decorate my room like my old homes.”

Despite her hard work in high school, Pablito was not prepared for college academics and sought help from tutors, professors, and TAs.

“I spent late nights watching tutorials on YouTube,” said Pablito. “College retention rates for indigenous students are exceptionally low, so instead of going home for the summer, I sought out research internships and difficult coursework to keep busy.”

Academics were not her only challenge.

“I started college at 15 and by age 16 I had no parents,” said Pablito. “My mother was abusive and we ceased contact. At 17, I was diagnosed with an adrenal tumor, which pushed my strength to its limits. I never felt more alone in my life.”

For support, she turned to her grandparents.

“Hearing their voices speaking the languages I grew up with helped with my loneliness,” said Pablito. “My grandfather didn’t allow me to drop out of college.”

Pablito also reached out to Indigenous student groups.

“I joined AISES and the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP), which connected me with community elders,” said Pablito. “I tutored students in math and science and assisted in teaching Diné Bizaad (Navajo) to students who had never heard the language. Being a part of these communities has been crucial in my success.”

She also credits her research internships with helping her discover her strengths.

“I decided to major in chemistry when I participated in the PathMaker Research Program at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, where I used biochemistry to investigate DNA damage and repair in cancer cells,” said Pablito. “Dr. Srividya Bhaskara guided me through the world of research, helping me earn many awards and grants.”

In the lab Pablito learned the important lesson that failure is inevitable.

“I began to think that science wasn’t for me, until I understood that failure is a part of research,” said Pablito. “What matters is how you handle that failure.”

She had a different lab experience during an internship at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. There she used targeted photoactivatable multi-inhibitor liposomes to induce site-specific cell damage in various cancer cells.

“That’s where my research interest in cancer and molecular biology developed,” said Pablito. “That internship taught me how to effectively present scientific data and how important community can be for the success of Native students.”

Her interest in medicine stems from her childhood experience with the Indian Health Service.

“Many of my elders distrusted going to doctors because most health care providers are white,” said Pablito. “My great-grandfathers’ illnesses could have been treated much better had they visited a doctor sooner. I will use my medical training to improve the care of elders on my reservation by integrating culture, language and medicine.”

In addition to earning an MD in family medicine, Pablito plans to earn a doctoral degree in cancer biology and eventually open a lab on the Zuni Pueblo to expose students to research.

“I want to spark an interest in STEM in future generations of Indigenous scholars,” said Pablito. “I want to give them advantages I never had.”

 

by D.J. Pollard
American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES).

The AISES magazine, People in Winds of Change, focuses on career and educational advancement for Native people in STEM fields. The article below first appeared in the Spring 2020 Issue.

 

 

Schedule Builder

schedule builder


Schedule Builder is the tool you will use to create your class schedule each semester. It is designed to be extremely customizable to give you the best possible schedule based on your preferences. Follow the links below for tutorials and resources to help you take full advantage of Schedule Builder.

>>Introduction

>>Step-by-Step Tutorial (PDF)

>>Checklists and other Registration Resources

 

AP/IB Test Scores

AP/IB Test Scores


General Education

See how your AP and IB test scores will fill general education requirements:

>>Special Credit

 

Biology

A score of 5 on the AP Biology exam will waive BIOL 1610 Fundamental Principles of Biology.

 

Chemistry

Information on placement into Chemistry courses by AP Chemistry exam can be found here:

>>Chemistry Courses

 

AP Lab Notebooks

The chemistry department will be accepting AP lab notebooks for evaluation this summer by mail due to COVID-19. Notebooks must include: 1) your name, 2) your uNID, and 3) a table of contents labeling each lab. Please mail in lab notebooks to the following address, postmarked by Friday, July 31.

Department of Chemistry

Attn: Dr. Sushma Saraf

315 S 1400 E

Salt Lake City, UT 84112

Students will receive an email to their Umail account by Monday, August 17, which will also include the pickup location for their notebooks.

Questions about submitting AP lab notebooks can be directed to Tascha Knowlton at natascha.knowlton@utah.edu or Emily Platt at emily.platt@utah.edu.

 

Mathematics

See how your AP Calculus or IB HL Mathematics scores can be used for math placement:

>>Math Placement by AP Score

 

Physics

Students who have earned a 4 or 5 on the AP Physics C: Mechanics or Electricity and Magnetism have several options for credit and placement. Please meet with the Physics Academic Advisor to discuss your options.