The PhD Movie Coming to a Theater Near You

Writer
Graduate Division

PhD Comics, created in 1997 by Jorge Cham, catalogs the lives and times of graduate students and postdocs in an academic laboratory — and is loosely based on Cham’s experiences working in a robotics PhD program at Stanford University.

The comics range from light-hearted hilarity to dark (but often too true) humor related to the day-to-day experiences and frustrations of working in a lab. Most graduate students are familiar with PhD Comics (if you aren’t, you should flip to the last page of Synapse, where we print the comic strip weekly, but fewer have heard of The PhD Movie, which was released in 2011.

Like the comics, the movie follows our hapless, nameless grad student hero as he joins a lab, starts a project, and works his way through school. The other comic characters also appear in the movie: his frighteningly serious PI, “Professor Smith,” his friend and fellow graduate student, Cecilia, and Mike the postdoc, among others.

Jorge Cham made the movie in collaboration with a theater group at the California Institute of  Technology — all of the scenes were filmed on the Caltech campus, and most of the actors are Caltech students (many are even PhD students). It’s an endearing personification of the comics, with some truly funny moments.

Synapse, the Graduate Students’ Association, the Student Activity Center and Student Health and Counseling Services are co-sponsoring a screening of Cham’s The PhD Movie on April 11 at 5:30 p.m. in N225, Parnassus. Come eat some snacks, watch the movie, and enjoy an hour and a half of awesomely nerdy PhD humor with your fellow grad students.