Society of Physics Students (SPS) Zone 11 meeting recap

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) hosted a regional meeting this weekend in the Science Lab building. Undergraduate physics students from three institutions: North Dakota State University, Augustana College from Sioux Falls and Minnesota State University Moorhead attended the meeting.

Shouvik Bhattacharya, the Sigma Pi Sigma Student Representative of MSUM, said, “The last zone meeting was held at the UW-River Falls back in 2010 and it was a joint meeting with the Wisconsin and Minnesota sections of American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). The MSUM SPS Chapter has been active in the past two and a half years. I realized it would be the right time to host a regional meeting and spread the words of our accomplishments as a group and discuss what we can do collaboratively with physics students from other universities in the near future.” The Zone 11 encompasses five states: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa.

The Society of Physics Students was founded in 1968 specifically to address questions and concerns of the undergraduate physics students. The Society of Physics Students Chapter at Minnesota State University Moorhead was established in 1973. The SPS bridges the gap between the professional (American Institute of Physics and its members and affiliated societies) and the academic world (Sigma Pi Sigma, the Physics Honor Society). Bhattacharya said, “I worked as an SPS National intern last summer in Washington DC. It totally changed my views on how the SPS group can serve better both for society and for the physicists. For example, the recent sequestration will directly impact the researchers and students across the nation. All scientific professional organizations have been working hard to minimize the effect due to budget cut. Along with many other aspects, the Society of Physics Students allowed me to develop a perspective on how physicists can interact with the congressmen.”

The SPS Zone 11 Meeting started on Friday evening at 6 pm with the public talk given by David Weinrich, the former President of the International Planetarium Society and the current Director of the MSUM Planetarium. Tyler Antony, the Society of Physics Students Chapter President at NDSU joined the MSUM SPS group. Dr. Rinita Dalan (Chair and Professor of Anthropology) also came to this talk. Bhattacharya thinks this must be considered as an interdisciplinary leap. Later, meeting attendees watched a full dome movie, Galileo in the MSUM Planetarium (Bridges 167).

There were several talks and poster presentations on March 2, the second day of the zone meeting. Audrey Burkart (the Associate Zone Councilor of the SPS Zone 11) and Jordan Kuiper drove all the way from Sioux Falls to Moorhead to attend this meeting. Both Burkart and Kuiper presented their posters with the MSUM students Meredith Mc Linn and Iwnetim Abate. The MSUM SPS members arranged a small demo on making ice cream with liquid nitrogen during lunch in CMU 101. Later in the afternoon, Bhattacharya presented his last official talk (as an MSUM SPS official) prepared for the Zone Meeting attendees, which explained why team work is essential in today’s ever changing world. Physics Alum, John Harris (2010) who is pursuing a PhD in Condensed Matter Physics at NDSU, presented a talk on what to expect in graduate school and how to develop a critical mind for research. The meeting ended with Dr. Matthew Craig’s (Chair, Department of Physics & Astronomy, MSUM) talk on photometric research done at the Paul P Feder Observatory in the Regional Science Center, MSUM.

Bhattacharya said, “Three intuitions from three different states joined this meeting. The Society of Physics Students Chapters from those three schools have potentials to prepare leaders who can communicate science beyond the realm of academia. I hope the meeting attendees will carry this message in their future endeavors. In addition to the meeting attendees, I would like to thank every single faculty professor of the department of Physics & Astronomy, MSUM, Joy Lindell, Dana Carlson, Dr. David Wahlberg, Dan Heckaman, and Mary Beckerleg to make this event possible.”

The SPS Zone 11 Meeting attendees and Presenters: Back row: Thomas Brenner, Anthony Woltman, Annika Bordak, Dana Jo Koczur and Kyle Salk. Lower row: Audrey Burkat, Jordan Kuiper (Augustana College), Shouvik Bhattacharya (MSUM), Tyler Antony (NDSU), Meredith Mc Linn (MSUM), Tyler Lane (MSUM), and John Harris (NDSU). — at Science Lab | Minnesota State University Moorhead. Copyright ©2013 The MSUM Society of Physics Students