The staff of the Physics Academic Programs Office supports every aspect of the Physics education program at MIT. We are a friendly, welcoming team of professionals dedicated to the success of all students in MIT Physics degree programs or taking an MIT Physics course.
Update as of December 22, 2021: Due to the Omicron variant, MIT is changing some of its original plans for IAP 2022. These changes have altered how our IAP 2022 courses will be run and how our Spring Graduate Written Exams and Spring Undergraduate ASE/Validation exams are being held.
Please check these links for updated information.
From inquiries about the undergraduate major or questions about admission to our doctoral program, to overseeing degree completion and celebrating graduates, we are available at every step of the Physics education journey: providing information, interpreting academic policy, administering advising, organizing classes, and solving problems. As a part of your extended support network, we’re also available to help with non-academic issues as well, pointing you towards opportunities and resources of all kinds.
If you have a question about any aspect of academic life at MIT, ask the Academic Programs Office and we’ll help you find the answers you need.
Meet the Academic Programs Team
Important office scheduling notice
This fall, members of the APO staff will be working three days physically on campus and two days virtually from home.
Below is the our “Work on Campus” schedule for Fall 2021. You can then surmise that days where a staff member is not listed are days that they will work from home. NOTE: Thursdays, all members of APO staff will be in the office.
If you need to meet virtually with one of our staff members, regardless of the day, please email them via the links below.
- All members work on campus.
Catherine Modica (she/her/hers)
Cathy oversees the administration of all Physics Department academic programs and manages the five-person staff of the academic office. Her expertise ranges from the macro (how to get things done around the Institute) through the nano (arcane details of MIT academic policy) to the human-sized (support and advice on successfully working with all of MIT’s flora and fauna). Her major interest is the well-being of students, all of whom she not-so-secretly thinks of as family.
Cathy loves drop-in visits from students and is hoping we can all come back to campus in the foreseeable future so she can run into you and chat about politics, books, art, and the meaning of life in general. Cathy lives in Arlington where she rides her bike on the Minuteman Bike Path and spends time with nearby family: sons Nick and Henry, daughter-in-law Lauren, and granddaughter Lily.
Sydney Miller (she/her/hers)
Graduate Programs Administrator
Sydney manages the graduate student experience from prospective applicant inquiries through degree completion and graduation.
Sydney works with current students on recruitment and outreach for the department and is the staff liaison for the graduate admissions committee. She responds to inquiries from prospective applicants, handles applications, coordinates decision meetings, and runs the open house and orientation events for the prospective and incoming graduate class. Sydney staffs the first-year research seminar, documents written and oral exam results, thesis committee formation, and other academic progress benchmarks for current students. She publicizes thesis defense arrangements, collects completed theses for the department, and celebrates degree completion and commencement. Sydney provides letters to certify student status and funding and is the staff advisor for grad student groups, events, and activities. She is an alumna of the Physics Values Committee and champions their work. Sydney co-manages the grad student lounge and front office supplies when we are on campus and has ordered lots of catered lunches and snacks over the past 3+ years. Sydney and her dog Turbo are both adjusting to working remotely.
Michal Holland (he/him/his)
Undergraduate Advising and Program Coordinator
Michal (Mike) Holland manages the undergraduate student experience from prospective student applications all the way through to degree completion and graduation.
Some of my responsibilities include:
coordinating academic advising systems,
maintaining data, and communicating with faculty and students
administering semiannual advanced standing exams
administering peer-tutoring program,
managing hiring of undergraduate graders;
liaising with Society of Physics Students and Undergraduate Women in Physics officers
freshman pre-orientation program;
coordinating activities such as academic expo, sophomore orientation, family weekend, open houses, end-of-year dinners;
overseeing UROP and thesis proposal processes; processing undergraduate paperwork
Mike lives in Stoughton Massachusetts. He enjoys playing Basketball, listening to music, and spending time with family and friends. Some of his other hobbies include traveling, coaching basketball to youth and trying different foods.
Student Payroll Coordinator
The Student Payroll Coordinator processes and manages student appointments for the Physics Department. They also assists graduate and undergraduate students with any payroll/timesheet related issues or concerns.
Here are some of the things that the Student Payroll Coordinator can help undergraduate students with:
- timesheet issues/questions
- student employment (TA, Graders, UROP)
- payroll related issues
- verification letter for UROP
- timesheet & direct deposit procedure
Here are some of the things that the Student Payroll Coordinator can help graduate students with:
- TA and RA appointment related questions
- payment or account related issues
- Graduate grader and proctor appointment; payment and setting up appointment
- fellowship related questions; please email email@example.com
Emma Burns (she/her/hers)
Emma provides administrative support for the department’s teaching staff and to the undergraduate program within the Academic Programs Office.
Some of her responsibilities are:
- assisting faculty and teaching staff in managing courses
- coordinating the final exam schedule with faculty
- organizing meetings, grading sessions, tutor sessions, exam reviews and other course activities
- working with faculty and disabilities office to provide testing accommodations
- administering the subject evaluation process
- scheduling of section lecturers and recitation instructors each term
- arranging IAP subjects and events, including scheduling and booking rooms
- helping students, faculty and instructors with IAP course related problems
Emma lives in Watertown, Massachusetts. She loves biking, reading cookbooks, long drives, and exploring the Boston area.
Kim Heatley (they/them/theirs)
Web & Database Administrator
Kim is the Physics Web & Database Administrator and is reponsible for:
- the MIT Physics Website
- the MIT Physics Social Media accounts:
- the Physics Course Sites: working in conjunction with Course Manager, Emma Burns
- the Physics Student Database
Kim lives in Boston with their wife, Jill, cats (Trouble and Cricket), and dog (Nugget), who often appears in our APO office. They are a true crime nut and loves watching movies. Otherwise, they keep busy walking Nugget, playing flag football, and going on spontaneous road trips for ice cream or other yummy food.
Pets of Academic Programs
Likes: Seeing ‘his’ students and food.
Dislikes: Working from home.
Likes: Balls and tug toys. Being rescued from a strip mall parking lot.
Dislikes: Being surprised or tricked. Getting wet.