Programs & Awards  
2012 SPS Leadership Scholarship Recipients
Recipients: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | 2003 | 2002 & Previous
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Outstanding LeadershipOutstanding LeadershipOutstanding Leadership  
Outstanding Leadership Winners: Blake McCracken, Verne Edward, &Jason Maldonis  

Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Award amount: $3000 | Award Information

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

Peggy Dixon Two-Year Scholarship
Award amount: $2,000 | Award Information

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

Blake McCrackenBlake McCracken—Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX
My name is Blake McCracken and I am a student at Angelo State University and a member of the Angelo State Honors program. I will graduate with honors in May of 2013. I started my involvement with our SPS chapter as soon as I joined the physics program. I have been very active in many different activities with our local SPS chapter. I have participated in countless physics outreach events, fundraising activities, and community science awareness events. In addition, I have presented original research and outreach results at several Joint Texas Physics Meetings (TSAPS, TSAAPT, and Zone 13 SPS) and National AAPT meetings. At the end of my freshman year, I decided that I would enjoy serving in a leadership position. I was elected to serve during my sophomore year as the Fundraising and Outreach Chair. In our chapter, this is a position of significant responsibility. My biggest feat of the entire year involved planning our annual weeklong physics road tour to schools all across Texas. I enjoyed doing this, and on that trip (the 6th annual) our Peer Pressure Team outreach group traveled over 1000 miles and interacted with more than 1300 K-8th grade public school children. My junior year I was elected to serve as our SPS Vice President. In the spring semester, I became the acting President. This was a very busy time for our chapter, since our Physics Department was the host of the Spring 2012 Joint Texas Physics meeting.
My academic achievements have gone well. I was nominated into Mathematics Honors Society (Pi Mu Epsilon), a National Honors Society (Alpha Chi), and the Who’s Who in American Universities organization my Junior year. I am most proud of my induction into our Sigma Pi Sigma chapter this past spring. For this upcoming school year, my senior year, I have been elected as the President of our local SPS chapter. I am looking forward to another very successful year in our SPS activities. We have a great reputation for being one of the most active and involved SPS chapters around. After graduation, I plan to continue my education and pursue a Ph.D. in physics, where I hope to utilize the knowledge I will have gained for research in fields pertaining to energetic materials, high pressure, and high velocity physics, potentially at the Naval Postgraduate School. I am currently pursuing this area of research with my current internship at China Lake Navy Base in California. I was awarded funding from the Alvin New Scholarship provided through Angelo State University Honors Program to provide support for this endeavor. I find this research exciting and fascinating; I am learning much about explosive mechanics, testing, and analysis, which is relevant to all of my research interests—energetic materials, high pressure and high velocity physics. I am unsure if this is the exact route I would like to pursue once I am finished with all of my education, but it is definitely a worthwhile experience.

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Verne EdwardVerne Edward—Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Grambling State University, Grambling, LA
I am a physics major and math minor at Grambling State University and will begin my senior year in the fall of 2012. I served as SPS president during the past year. I am currently completing a summer research internship at the University of Arkansas through the George Washington Carver Program. My research project deals with simulating and performing C-V characterizations on power transistors, mostly metal oxide semiconductor field effect transistors (MOSFETs). I have also performed undergraduate research on semi-conductive polymers throughout most of my sophomore and junior years. After I graduate, I intend to pursue a master’s degree or PhD in electrical engineering with a concentration in power or energy systems. With my training, I hope to do research that can contribute towards solving the world’s current energy crisis. When I’m not busy trying to save the world, I play soccer, table tennis or scrabble. I also enjoy fishing and watching Japanese anime.

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Jason MaldonisJason Maldonis —Outstanding Leadership Scholarship
Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA
I am a senior student at Coe College, a liberal arts school in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, pursuing a degree in physics and mathematics, with a minor in computer science. I, like many others, have always been curious about the question of why the world works as it does. This naturally led me to the discipline of physics. Along the way, I was struck by the potency of studying mathematics and computer science side-by-side with physics and I now love every second of it. Currently, I am working at Corning Incorporated studying the formation and characteristics of new types of glass for many different applications. In the past I have worked in the high energy physics department at the University of Iowa where I helped to develop and simulate a new scintillating material that will, if eventually successful, be a prototype for an upgrade project for the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. I have also worked in glass research at Coe College for two years where I studied different glass systems that are capable of conducting electricity.

In the future, I hope to be able to contribute to the organizations that have provided me with such great opportunities, just as you have. I often think how lucky I have been throughout my career and I am very happy to have made such great friends within the physics community. After my senior year, I plan to continue to graduate school for my Ph.D. in materials science where I will hopefully gain the skills to contribute to the world community in some new and exciting way.
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Brandon FureyJoseph Carmack - Herbert Level Memorial Scholarship
Brigham Young University Idaho, Thornton, ID
Joseph Carmack is a senior studying physics and math at Brigham Young University Idaho (BYU-I). This summer I am doing an internship with Dr. Branton Campbell at BYU Provo in Utah. We are studying magnetic materials with the hope of identifying the source of the Colossal Magneto-Resistance (CMR) effect in perovskite manganites. It is an exciting project that I feel privileged to be a part of. On a more personal level, my wife and I just recently welcomed our first child into our family. He is now three months old and starting to smile and giggle. He is the prime attraction in our home. After finishing my internship here among the rockies, I will complete my last two semesters of undergraduate studies at BYU-I. Following my graduation I plan on finding a graduate program in mathematical/theoretical physics. My career goal is to eventually teach physics and math as a university professor. The SPS will always be a prime focus for me because it allows me to share my love for learning and interact with great people.

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Andrew PrudhomAndrew Prudhom - Herbert Level Memorial
University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, La Crosse, WI

I am currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin - La Crosse, with a dual major in Physics and Mathematics. I have two active research areas, one in a branch of quantum physics related to the perfection of a number resolving single photon detector utilizing a novel semiconductor nanostructure design (quantum dots). The second is in a branch of mathematics known as Operator Theory, involving complex analysis, graph theory, and focusing on an aspect of operator mathematics involving bloch functions. I am the 2012/2013 Society of Physics Students president of my local chapter, and hope to increase my chapter’s involvement in SPS at the national level. Outside of school, I enjoy learning about any subject I can, and voraciously read anything and everything. I also enjoy going on hikes in the beautiful bluffs of the La Crosse area with my girlfriend and her 7 year old son, as well as enjoying what little quiet time I get at home with the both of them.

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Prajwal MohanmurthyPrajwal Mohanmurthy—Herbert Level Memorial
Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS

I am a physics senior with mathematics as a secondary major. I have enjoyed being the coordinator of the MSU Chapter of SPS for a long time and continue to do so. I have been involved in research extensively, especially in the field of experimental nuclear & particle physics for more than three years now. Motivated by undergraduate research, I have tried to implement programs within our chapter of SPS to integrate the chapter experience, outreach included, with full fledged research activities at all levels.

Currently, I work at Paul Scherrer Institute designing a wire scanner for Swiss FEL and lead the Mississippi State Axion Search group which is putting together a cavity based axion - search experiment. I am a JSA Fellow at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, where I develop a beam polarimeter with my research adviser Dr. Dipangkar Dutta, and I have served as a member of the American Delegation to the 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureates’ Meeting held in Germany. I was an IPM Fellow at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory where I worked with the Seaquest E-906 collaboration developing their trigger matrix. As a HURP fellow at MSU I have worked with transport codes to simulate a process known as pion photo-production. I am committed to research in academia and look forward to graduate school in physics.

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Karl DeckerMarilyn Moore—Peggy Dixon Two-Year Scholarship
University of Texas, San Antonio, TX
Currently, I attend the University of Texas at San Antonio, and am an undergraduate senior in physics with a minor in math. I arrived at UTSA from San Antonio College, where I was an active participant in and co-founder of the SAC Astronomy Club. I joined the newly formed SPS chapter here upon my arrival from SAC, where I quickly became the event coordinator, a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, and then the vice president for the previous academic year. I really enjoy outreach, and have been a part of dozens of public, private, and academic events that pertain to astronomy, and general science. I'm involved with research in astrophysics, and have worked on two separate projects, one involving a cataclysmic variable system, and a second on diffuse x-ray emission from nearby, face-on spiral galaxies. My future goals involve obtaining a PhD in astrophysics, and becoming the female version of the late Carl Sagan, working to make astronomy and astrophysics more accessible to the public.
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Christopher FryeChristopher Frye—Leadership Scholarship
University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL
Christopher Frye is a senior studying physics and mathematics at the University of Central Florida, where he leads the Society of Physics Students as chapter president. Christopher spent summer 2011 at the University of Minnesota as a summer researcher in the Compact Muon Solenoid group, and he enjoyed living in Geneva, Switzerland, as a summer student and research assistant at CERN in summer 2012, working in nonlinear beam dynamics. During his semesters at UCF, he studies hard, participates in research projects, presents at conferences, and interacts with painting students in the NSF-funded I-Cubed project to produce physics-inspired artwork. He plans to pursue a PhD in theoretical physics and later become a university professor and researcher.
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Justin DoveLinsey Johnson —Leadership Scholarship
Utah State University, Logan, UT
Linsey Johnson is a senior physics major at Utah State University. She has been involved in SPS since the beginning of her freshman year of college, serving at different times as the USU chapter’s VP for Outreach and its President. Linsey has been involved in a number of different research projects, most recently in astrophysics including spending a summer at LIGO Hanford Observatory and at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Linsey’s career goals include obtaining a graduate degree in physics then working in an EPO (Education and Public Outreach) position. Linsey’s commitment to scientific outreach and communication has led to her: participating in numerous elementary school visits, star parties, public science lectures, and lab tours; helping organize USU’s popular science lecture series, “Science Unwrapped;” and developing and teaching a university course, “Outreach in Physics.” In December 2011 she presented a poster, “Engaging Undergraduates in Innovative Science Outreach,” at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union. In the past 3 years, Linsey’s efforts have made it possible for USU’s SPS outreach program to impact over 16,000 people.

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Abi PolinAbigail Polin—Leadership Scholarship
New York University, New York, NY

I am a Physics major in the class of 2013 at New York University. I hope to pursue a Doctoral Degree in Astrophysics. Since my freshmen year I have worked at NYU’s Center for Soft Matter research studying granular materials with Professor Paul Chaikin. I am also highly interested in astrophysics. During the summer of 2011 I worked at the University of Manchester and Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics through an internship affiliated with Franklin and Marshall College performing a study to assist in the efforts to detect gravitational waves through pulsar timing. This past summer I continued my interest in gravitational waves, working at LIGO Livingston through the Louisiana State University REU. I also have worked as an Adjunct Instructor in physics since my sophomore year.
I am an active member of NYU’s chapter of the Society for Physics Students, and a proud member of Sigma Pi Sigma. I served as co-president of NYU’s SPS for the 2011-2012 academic year and was honored to be re-elected to continue as co-president during my senior year.
Outside of physics I am a studio art minor with a personal concentration in metalsmithing. I’ve earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and have enjoyed exploring the urban atmosphere during my time in New York.
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Alec HerrDavid To—Leadership Scholarship
Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX
I am currently a senior at Angelo State University pursuing a double major in applied physics and mathematics. Recently I have been elected as Vice President of my local SPS Chapter at Angelo State University and Associate Zone Council for Zone 13. I have been involved with SPS since my freshman year. I spend a lot of time participating in public engagement that our local SPS is involved with. Currently I am at University of Chicago for a REU program, where I am working on high energy physics. I plan to continue my education in physics. After attending graduate school and obtaining a PhD, I would like to educate future generations by teaching in a university setting while conducting physics research. I hope to be able to have a positive impact on the lives of students.


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Hannah McWilliamsHanah McWilliams —Leadership Scholarship
Hendrix College, Conway, AR
I will be a senior physics major at Hendrix College next year. During the school year I run bimonthly Society of Physics Students meetings with the help of my fellow officers. I am also a member of the Hendrix Ultimate Frisbee team. This summer I am researching the Shape Optimization of an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle at University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR) under my advisor, Dr. Sandgren. After graduation from Hendrix, I plan to go to graduate school in aerospace engineering.

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Kyle HersheyKyle Hershey—Leadership Scholarship
Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA
I'm Kyle Hershey, and I'm coming up on my senior year at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, IA. I am a Physics, Math, and Computer Science triple major. I am the vice president of our Physics Club, having just finished my term as treasurer. This summer, I am doing nano-materials research at Northwestern University. After I finish my undergraduate degree, I plan on going on to graduate school to do materials engineering, but I have not decided on a school yet. My overall goal is to do research engineering with microelectronics.
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Wako BungulaWako Bungula —Leadership Scholarship
Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, TX
My name is Wako Bungula, and I am a rising senior majoring in Physics and Math at Texas Lutheran University which is located in Seguin, Texas. I have been an active member of SPS in our local chapter since my sophomore year, and I was honored to be elected as an SPS officer to serve as a Treasurer my junior year. Currently, I am preparing myself for graduate school by studying for the GRE. Additionally, I am doing a summer research at University of Hawaii in Hilo. I plan to pursue further education in theoretical physics, computational science or applied math. Eventually, I would like to work as a professor at a university and conduct researches.

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Dawn PopnoeDawn Popnoe—Leadership Scholarship
Angelo State University, San Angelo, TX
In the fall of 2012 I will be a senior at Angelo State University, where I am double majoring in Applied Physics and Mathematics. I was recently elected to be SPS treasurer for our local chapter after relinquishing my position as secretary. In addition, I am an active member of our SPS chapter’s “Peer Pressure Team” where we do outreach to thousands of children each year of all ages. This year I also had the honor of being inducted into the National Sigma Pi Sigma honor society. As far as my research, last summer I was privileged to attend Yale University for a summer internship, studying artificial microstructures made of Bulk Metallic Glass in the Mechanical Engineering department. Then, over this past academic year I studied the effects of Porous Silicon as the anode in Lithium-Ion batteries.
I am so grateful for this scholarship, as I am working towards finishing my degree. After I graduate in May 2013, I plan on attending graduate school in some field of physics or engineering.
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Carleene BusseCarleene Busse —Leadership Scholarship
California State University-Chico, Chico, CA
I am a California native, currently attending CSU Chico. I am entering my final year of undergraduate studies, and hope to finish well. I love studying physics, math, and computer science. I have been very active in my SPS chapter since arriving in Chico two years ago, and next year I will serve as vice president. The focus of my studies has been computational simulation of physics problems. I have worked on complex light reflection setups and several chaotic systems. I also enjoy reading, crafting, and breeding and raising reptiles. I am preparing for the GRE and hope to attend graduate school in a year.
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Shouvik BhattacharyaShouvik Bhattacharya—Leadership Scholarship
Minnesota State University, Moorhead, MN
I am originally from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) India. I am pursuing a double major in physics and mathematics at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM). I am planning to graduate in spring 2013 and hope to go to graduate school for either observational astrophysics or computational cosmology.In the past academic year, I worked as a student researcher at the Paul P. Feder observatory of MSUM. I engaged in observing a variable star (XX Cyg), classified as an RR Lyrae pulsating variable star. I served as the Vice President of the SPS of MSUM chapter in the academic year 2011-12. Social networking and communication with the club members, the alumni, and the faculties of the department of Physics & Astronomy of MSUM were maintained by me. In the past academic year, I arranged various physics outreach events such as an educational movie night, a talk show about time travel, and a career workshop for physics students. Our chapter participated in the University Physics Challenge Competition and the Mathematical Contest in Modeling under my leadership. I worked as an SPS Summer Intern in 2012 on the Career Pathways project.

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Holly MurphyHolly Murphy —Leadership Scholarship
California State University-San Bernadino, San Bernadino, CA
Holly Murphy is currently a junior at California State University, San Bernardino majoring in physics. After two years as president of the SPS chapter at CSUSB, she has built the club up to become a bigger presence on campus and the community with outreach to those interested in physics. She also organizes the volunteers for CSUSB’s newly built Murillo Family Observatory’s public and private open houses.
Currently she is into her third year doing research on the degradation of hydrogen fuel cells in CSUSB’s solid state lab and has presented her work at the Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research.
Outside of her studies, she is also involved in CSUSB’s Student Ambassador Society, the Outdoors Program as a trip leader, and she enjoys cooking and eating. She hopes to one day travel the world and immerse herself in its many cultures.
After graduating from CSUSB, Holly plans to go on and pursue a doctorate in either medical physics or nuclear physics and eventually a medical degree to become a radiologist.

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Amanda SteckMonika Mohacsi —Leadership Scholarship
Adelphi University, Garden City, NY

Monika Mohacsi is a physics major in the Honors College at Adelphi University, planning to also pursue an electrical or mechanical engineering degree at Columbia University upon completion of her physics degree in 2013. As treasurer of Physics Club, she has been on the executive board since freshman year and has helped plan campus-wide fundraiser events, outreach programs like Lab for Kids, and the 2012 SPS Zone 2 Physics Conference. Lab for Kids is an annual event in which the Physics Club invites high school students from the surrounding area to campus where the club members lead the students in several interesting hands-on projects during the day. The program is designed to promote interest in pursuing physics after high school. This year Monika helped draft a successful Future Faces of Physics proposal to help fund this outreach effort. Additionally, Monika attended the 2011 SPS Zone 2 Meeting in Ithaca, which inspired the 2012 SPS Zone 2 Physics Conference to be hosted by Adelphi University. She helped develop the budget and worked with the other officers to put together a schedule of events, advertise to the community, and secure two main speakers, Dr. Brian Greene and Dr. Elna Nagasako, which made this event a success. This summer, Monika is currently working at the University of Michigan in a Physics REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) Program, on an experiment involving atom trapping and cooling of Rubidium atoms. After the summer, Monika hopes to continue researching in an optics-related field of physics, as she begins her final year at Adelphi University.

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Andrew MadeyAndrew Madey—Leadership Scholarship
University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Andrew Madey is an undergraduate student at the University of Oregon, studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Physics along with a minor in Architecture. He is interested in harnessing sunlight to produce energy more efficiently and reliably, in integrating solar energy technology into building design, in sustainable architecture in general, and in applying laser technology to create novel devices and instruments. He looks forward to using his SPS scholarship to fund the interdisciplinary study that he will undertake to enable him to contribute to each of these areas.
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Sean McLaughlinSean McLaughlin—Leadership Scholarship
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL
Sean McLaughlin grew up in Hickory Hills. He went to high school at Brother Rice on the South Side of Chicago. It was there where he first developed an interest in physics. After graduating, he enrolled in the Engineering Physics Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In his freshman year, he joined the Physics Society and Engineers Without Borders. This summer, he is doing research on 3-D microwave resonators, and plans to join the Physics Van in the fall. In the future, Sean intends to continue studying physics at Illinois, and hopefully attend graduate school in the future.

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