Programs & Awards  
2009 SPS Leadership Scholarship Recipients
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Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Award amount: $3,000 | Award Information

Herbert Levy Memorial Scholarship
Award amount: $2,000 | Award Information

Future Teacher Scholarship
Award amount: $2,000 | Award Information

Leadership Scholarships
Award amount: $2,000 | Award Information


Maria DroutMaria Drout—Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
My name is Maria Drout, and I just finished my junior year as a Physics and Astronomy Major at the University of Iowa. I am currently the president of the UI chapter of SPS, and heavily involved in outreach through SPS, WISE (women in science and engineering), and The 10,000 Hours Show of Eastern Iowa (an initiative to involve more youth in community service). I have been conducting research on the Magnetized Interstellar Medium of Galactic Nuclei with Dr. Lang at the University of Iowa for the past two years, and have also completed an REU at Lowell Observatory during the summer of 2008. This coming summer I will be conducting research the Smithsonian Astrophysical. In addition to my professional and academic work, I have a bit of a flair for adventure, being involved in a number of activities from rock climbing and SCUBA diving to whitewater canoeing and swing dancing. After graduating from the University of Iowa, I intend to go on and earn my PhD in either physics or astronomy.

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Logan HancockLogan Hancock—Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX
In the fall of 2009, I will be a senior at Angelo State University in San Angelo, TX. I am an Applied Physics major with minors in Mathematics and Earth Science. I currently serve as the President of our local SPS chapter and was recently re-elected to continue my position for the upcoming school year. I am also heavily involved in Angelo State’s SPS “Peer Pressure Team” outreach program. This past year, I was inducted into the Sigma Pi Sigma National Honor Society and got the chance to attend the 2008 Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Congress at Fermilab in Batavia, IL. Last summer I was selected as an SPS Summer Intern and given the chance to work for the American Physical Society in College Park, MD on the Physics To Go ComPADRE collection.

In the next school year I will begin my student research project, studying optical properties in different materials and devices using Micro-Raman Spectroscopy. I graduate in May 2010 and hope to continue my education in graduate school pursing a Master’s Degree or possibly a PhD in physics or some field of engineering. Other than school, I enjoy music, the guitar, disc golf, and taking advantage of any free time I can catch outside of physics homework. This summer I will be doing research in Civil Engineering through a student research grant program at Texas A&M University in College Station, TX.

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Michael JokubaitisMichael Jokubaitis—Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Drew University, Madison, NJ
Michael Jokubaitis is a senior at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. He is pursuing a physics major and a mathematics minor. Since fall 2007, he has been the secretary of his SPS chapter and the editor of its newsletter, The Dilated Times. As a sophomore, he was inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma. He also served as the 2008-2009 Associate Zone Councilor for SPS Zone 3. He has conducted research on measurement applications of open-cavity lasers, the photodegradation and second-harmonic generation characteristics of chromophore-based organic polymers for use in next-generation fiber-optic communications, and the characterization of novel organic field-effect transistors.

This summer Michael has an REU with the National Undergraduate Fellowship Program at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory where he will study the loss of superthermal ions from the beam plasma at the National Spherical Torus Experiment (NSTX). Michael hopes to continue his education through graduate school and to obtain his doctorate in physics. Outside of academics, he spends most of his time performing music. He has studied classical piano for sixteen years, sings in the university chorale, and is a member of the Drew University Chamber Music Society.

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Tyler McCleeryTyler McCleery —Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS
Ty McCleery is a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi where he is double majoring in physics and math. He has received the Goldwater Scholarship Honorable Mention in 2008 and will be participating in an REU at Cornell University’s Center for Nanoscale Systems this summer. He joined SPS his freshman year and has served twice as treasurer and this past year served as president. In these positions, Ty has participated in the physics tutoring program, high school outreach, and multiple conferences where he has presented his research on the fluid mechanics of spinning maple seeds. After attending the Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Congress in 2008, he led planning meetings to expand the chapter’s outreach program to a wider audience. This fall, Ty will initiate a program that will take physics majors and elementary education majors into elementary schools to assist students in developing science fair projects. The program will show future elementary teachers how to better explain science to their students and will help inspire new generations of scientists. It is with much pride that Ty accepts this award, and he hopes to use the recognition to make others aware of the need for physics in society.

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Jenna SmithJenna Smith—Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Rhodes College, Memphis, TN
Jenna Smith is a 2009 graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Originally from Indianapolis, IN, she has been involved with her local chapter of SPS since her freshman year, serving as the chapter secretary for a year and a half and as the chapter president for one year. Jenna has served as the Associate Zone Councilor for Zone 10 since fall 2007 and is currently the AZC Representative on the Executive Council. She was the 2008 SPS/MRSEC intern and was co-developer of the 2008 SOCK. Outside of physics, her interests lie in Spanish language and culture as well as theatre and music. In the fall, Jenna will be pursuing a PhD in physics at Michigan State University.

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Ben CarlsonBen Carlson—Herbert Levy Memorial Scholarship
Grove City College, Grove City, PA
I am a rising senior physics major at Grove City College. My physics interests are in particle and chemical physics, and I have done research in Biophysics and Nanotechnology. This summer I intend to pursue my particle physics interests at Cornell University. I very much enjoy doing research, and intend to continue studying physics and doing research in graduate school. I am currently president of our vibrant chapter of SPS, and a member of Sigma Pi Sigma. During the summers, I enjoy traveling, hiking, mountain biking and reading.

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Ben CarlsonLulu Li—Herbert Levy Memorial Scholarship
University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign, IL
Lulu Li is a junior at University of Illinois- Urbana Champaign pursuing a degree in engineering physics.  She grew up in Nanjing, a metropolis in East China with a population of over five million. After graduating from Nanjing Foreign Language School, she attended Rhodes College for two years as a Physics and Math major and Psychology minor. During this time Lulu worked on the Microgravity project in which the team created the world’s first electrostatic binary orbit under the microgravity environment onboard a NASA airplane. She is currently working on feedback mechanisms in sodium-cooled fast reactors at MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering this summer. Lulu enjoys her research experience tremendously, and would like to continue to pursue a PhD degree in the area of science and engineering. At this point her research interests are still diverse from the study of nuclear reactors to that of animal behaviors.Outside research Lulu enjoys swimming, hiking and being a volunteer dog walker for humane societies. She really appreciates the vast number of opportunities SPS has made available to undergraduate students. It is her great honor to receive the Herbert Levy award.

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Brian DavisBrian Davis—Future Teacher Scholarship
Brigham Young University, Provo, UT
Brian Davis is currently a Masters' student at Brigham Young University (BYU) studying carbon nanotube transistors. He served as the president of the BYU chapter of SPS his senior year and participated in many outreaches to local schools where he was able to help with fun demonstration shows put on for students of underrepresented ethnicities in physics. His hands-on research experience has helped him to see how the basic principles of science can be useful and exciting to solve real-life problems, and looks forward to beginning his career as a high school teacher following the completion of his graduate degree.

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Heather BriggsHeather Briggs—Future Teacher Scholarship
University of Delaware, Newark, DE
Heather Briggs is a recent graduate of the University of Delaware. She received her Bachelor of Science in Physics with minors in Mathematics and Theatre. While at UD, she served as the Vice President of her chapter of the Society of Physics students and developed a research presentation forum for undergraduate students. She also participated in a summer program at MIT, Teaching Opportunities in Physical Science (TOPS), where she first fell in love in with teaching. Due to her experiences with TOPS and as a science lab Teaching Assistant, she plans to get her Masters in Physics Education from Rutgers University and work in the area as a high school physics teacher.

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Robert ArnRobert Arn—Leadership Scholarship
Millikin University, Decatur, IL
Robert Arn has served as the President of the Millikin Chapter of the Society of Physics Students for the 2008-2009 academic school year. Through this, he has helped to rebuild the chapter and institute a series of public outreach programs, the most notable, called PON, or Public Observation Nights. These events, over the course of the past two years, have reached over 5,000 individuals around the world. Robert’s current activities are heavily research-oriented. This summer, he is part of an REU program at the University of Washington, working on a project which involves modeling solar system formations. Robert is also currently writing a book in efforts to teach about astronomy through inexpensive astrophotography.

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Jessica FergusonJessica Ferguson—Leadership Scholarship
East Central University, Ada, OK
My name is Jessica Ferguson from Elmore City, Oklahoma and I am a senior medical physics major at East Central University. I am involved in Astronomy Club, Society of Physics Students, Math Club, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, Sigma Pi Sigma, and Who’s Who Among American College Students. I am also a McNair Scholar and NASA Fellow. My future plans include graduating from East Central University in May 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Science in medical physics and minor in biology as well as attending the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center to obtain a Master’s of Science in Radiation Therapy.

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Kunal BhatnagarKunal Bhatnagar—Leadership Scholarship
Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX
I am going to be senior at Angelo State University starting fall 2009. I am originally from New Delhi, India and came to the States about three years ago. I am a Physics major with a double minor in Computer Science and Mathematics. I will be serving as the Secretary of the local Angelo State University SPS chapter and also served as the fundraising chair last year. This summer I will be part of a research project at Texas State University in San Marcos. I will continue this research next academic year at Angelo State as a part of the Carr Research Scholarship Award. I plan on attending graduate school for Materials Science and Engineering after I graduate with my Bachelor’s in Physics. Other than Physics, my other interests include working out, swimming, playing guitar and trail-biking.

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Kevin GulliksonKevin Gullikson—Leadership Scholarship
Illinois Institute Of Technology, Chicago, IL
I am currently working in an internship with Argonne National Laboratory. The internship is through the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program run by the DOE. As president of SPS at my school, I am also working on planning next semester’s activities. Right now, we plan on continuing a project that we started last semester, and having an informal lecture series given by professors at the Illinois Institute of Technology. I plan on graduating next spring, and after that, I will go to a graduate school to get a PhD in Physics. I hope to become a research physicist.

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Ognjen  IlicOgnjen Ilic—Leadership Scholarship
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, I am currently a senior at Harvard University concentrating in physics and mathematics. Next fall I'll be starting my phd studies in physics at MIT. Interests besides physics include reading, hiking, soccer and playing guitar.

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Megan LockwoodMegan Lockwood—Leadership Scholarship
New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM
Megan graduated in May with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physics and Mathematics from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. While at NMSU, Megan was active in the Society of Physics for all four years, serving as president her junior year. She also participated in two different REU’s in the summers after sophomore and junior years. In the fall Megan begins the physics graduate program at Ohio State University, where she has a University Fellowship. Her emphasis of study will be in experimental condensed matter physics. After finishing her PhD she wants a career in research.

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Jerome MlackJerome Mlack—Leadership Scholarship
Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA
My name is Jerome Mlack and I am currently a physics major at Drexel University in my fourth year. In 2006 I helped to re-establish Drexel’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students and served as its first President for two years and as Vice President this past year. I have co-written proposals for the Marsh White Award and Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award, and was a Congress Reporter at the 2008 Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Congress. As part of SPS and Drexel’s Low Temperature and Quantum Device Laboratory (LTQD) I have organized and performed physics demonstrations for over 1000 high school students during our physics department’s annual Kaczmarczik lecture. In the past I have done research internships at Penn State ARL, the Army Research Laboratory, and am currently at the Magnetism and Spin Electronics group at Trinity College Dublin. I have also been a member of the LTQD Laboratory at Drexel part time since my freshman year. There is nothing I enjoy more than tinkering in the lab and performing experiments, except for the occasional trips to hear the local jazz scene. After graduation in June of 2010 I plan to attend graduate school in physics and study in the field of quantum computation.

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Tyler  MullenbachTyler Mullenbach—Leadership Scholarship
Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA
I am going to enter my senior year at Coe College in Cedar Rapids Iowa. I am majoring in Physics with a minor in mathematics. Under the mentorship of Professor Steve Feller, I have been active in Coe’s research on glass, which has prepared me for my current internship with Corning Incorporated. I will continue my education after I graduate from Coe, but I am currently undecided about where that will happen.

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James StankowiczJames Stankowicz—Leadership Scholarship
University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
I'm James Stankowicz, an upcoming senior in the honors college at the University Of Florida. I have been involved with SPS since my freshman year, becoming Propagandist, then Treasurer, and am now Vice President. I am also the Editor-in-Chief of the Undergraduate Physics Newsletter, a monthly publication for and by UF physics undergrads. I have participated in REUs in Rome, Italy, Oxford, England, and this summer I will attend an REU at the LHC at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. I am currently working on a research project in quantum field theory, and intend to earn a Ph.D. In mathematical physics after I graduate. I also enjoy reading (normally math and physics books, but occasionally I'll branch out), playing chess, ice hockey, tennis, and ping pong.

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Kristen ThompsonKristen Thompson—Leadership Scholarship
East Central University, Ada, OK
My name is Kristen Thompson and I am from Elmore City, Oklahoma. I am a senior medical physics major at East Central University. I am active in the Society of Physics Students, astronomy club, math club, Sigma Pi Sigma, Alpha Chi National Honor Society, and Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. I am also a NASA fellow and ECAMP scholar. My plans include graduating from ECU in May of 2010 and then attending graduate school to receive my Ph.D. in medical physics.

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Mallory YoungMallory Young—Leadership Scholarship
Hendrix College, Conway, AR
Hi, my name is Mallory. This fall I will be a senior at Hendrix College in Conway, AR, where I am working on a Bachelors degree in Physics. For the past year I have taken part in researching neutrino-stimulated pair production in intense magnetic fields typical of supernovae. I fell in love with particle astrophysics and upon graduation plan pursue a PhD with a specialization in this field. I am currently pursuing a future in experimental astrophysics research but have recently considered a career in teaching physics. This summer I am excited to be working on image simulations for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope at Purdue University through an REU. As president of the Hendrix SPS chapter I enjoy physics-related activities such as hosting guest speakers, the construction of an 8-inch telescope, and using the new Science Outreach Catalyst Kit to teach physics at a nearby elementary school. For the past two years I have assisted my peers in their studies in physics and have become a nationally recognized and certified tutor. In addition to physics, I have had a lifelong love of horse riding and am extremely eager to go home and see my horse Sampson. I am also an avid violinist and love the wilderness of Oregon. My past experiences have left me eager to take on future leadership opportunities as I advance through the scientific world.

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