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2005 National Conference of Black Physics Students (NCBPS) Held in Chicago

By Leslie Upton, Hampton University, Hampton VA

Terrence McGee discusses his summer research at the conference's poster presentation.  

On February 3-6, 2005, over 150 faculty, students, and recruiters convened at Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago for the 19th Annual National Conference of Black Physics Students (NCBPS).

The goal of each conference is to “encourage minority students in their pursuit of higher education degrees in physics by providing pertinent information and mentoring to achieve success.”

Just a few of the schools represented were: Alabama A&M, Berkley, Fisk University, Georgia Tech, Hampton University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Stanford, Southern University, and the University of California.

This year’s NCBPS theme was “Engage in Physics at the Frontiers of Science.” Throughout the weekend participants were able to tour Argonne National Laboratory and the University of Chicago; talk with recruiters; attend seminars on the importance of the GRE, how to succeed in college, grad school, and in the workforce; and attend presentations on groundbreaking research, intriguing studies, and the latest technology.

Above, Hampton University students Sydney Paul, Peter Muhoro, Terrence McGee, Marion Greene, Clarissa Freeman, Marcus Wiggs, and Quanni Jenkins take a break at the University of Chicago during the NCBPS conference.  

There were a variety of technical presentations presented by students and scientists during the weekend. The topics ranged from nano technology, to string theory and from Physics of Everyday Phenomena, to DOE Nuclear Energy Initiatives.
“I really enjoyed the presentation on the Physics of Everyday Phenomena,” said Clarissa Freeman, a Hampton University freshman physics major, “Dr. Sidney Nagel explained the physics behind falling water droplets, the droplet splashes, and coffee stains.”

The weekend’s highlights included the Edward Bouchet Awards Banquet. The keynote speaker was Dr. Walter E. Massey, President of Morehouse College and former Director of the DOE and Argonne National Laboratory. His emphasis was on being prepared for given situations within your life.

“Many of the positions that I have held in the past were not positions I sought out,” said Massey, “I did not seek them out, they were presented to me. Sometimes you have to take positions that you may not necessarily want because they become great opportunities.”

Monique Calhoun and Clarissa Freeman listen intently to a panel discussion on how to get accepted into grad school.  

There were those, however, who saw room for improvement within the conference.

“I think the conference was great,” said Hampton University senior Peter Muhoro, “but there was a lack of African American representation amongst the guest speakers. Next year, I would like to see more African American physicists at this conference.”

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