2024 SPS National Council Candidates

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Biographies and mission statements are listed below. Use these links below to quickly jump to any zone:

President | Zone 1 | Zone 2 | Zone 3 | Zone 4 | Zone 5 | Zone 6 | Zone 7 | Zone 8 | Zone 9 | Zone 10 | Zone 11 | Zone 12 | Zone 13 | Zone 14 | Zone 15 | Zone 16 | Zone 17 | Zone 18

Sigma Pi Sigma President

Blane Baker
William Jewell College

Biography: Blane Baker is Professor of Physics at his alma mater William Jewell College. Over his tenure, he has taught a variety of courses including general physics, electronics, and quantum mechanics, along with a popular sport science course for non-science majors. He is the author of two recent books, Science in the Arena and Critical Thinking in the Physics Curriculum.

Baker has served as President of Sigma Pi Sigma since 2022. He was a Zone Councilor from 2013-2019 and co-chaired the 2022 Physics and Astronomy Congress. He has served on a number of committees and task forces for both SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma.

Candidate Statement: I would like to express appreciation to the entire SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma community for your support and encouragement during my first term as President. In addition to your support, I am inspired by your efforts to promote scholarship, service and outreach, and fellowship among physics majors and others who are interested in physics. Together, we can continue to engage future students and to build relationships with all who value and enjoy physics.

As many of you know, SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma are experiencing some transitions with the departure of our long-time director and other personnel changes. I would be delighted to serve again as President as we work together during this transition period. I am particularly excited to continue our efforts in re-engaging chapters, building a robust team of volunteers to support the Physics and Astronomy Congresses, and helping students cope with burn out and other stresses in their lives. I would be thrilled to serve a second term, and I would strive to make our community even more engaging and welcoming to all.

SPS Presidential Candidate Local and Regional Involvement: William Jewell College Chapter Advisor 2005-present; Zone Councilor (Zone 12) 2013-2019

SPS Presidential Candidate National Involvement: Sigma Pi Sigma President 2022-present; Sigma Pi Sigma Task Force 2022-present; Co-Chair of 2022 Physics and Astronomy Congress, Executive Planning Committee for Physics and Astronomy Congresses (2017-2022); 2025 Physics and Astronomy Congress Tours Committee Chair

SPS Presidential Candidate Presidential Experience: American Association of Physics Teachers Board of Directors (Secretary) 2019-present; SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Executive Committee 2022-present

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Zone 1

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC) 

Larom Segev
Harvard University

Biography: Hi! My name is Larom Segev and I am an undergrad physics student at Harvard University interested in research where early universe cosmology meets particle physics. I grew up moving around the world and moved across the country for college, so I love connecting with people mutually interested in physics all over and would like to try connecting chapters and bringing more SPS opportunities to my zone. In addition to SPS, I am involved in leadership in Student Astronomers (STAHR) and Women in Physics.

Candidate Statement: I am eager to enhance collaboration and engagement between chapters. Through virtual meetings, we can foster connections and community among students across different chapters. These meetings will provide invaluable opportunities for students to exchange ideas, share experiences, and support one another in their academic and professional endeavors.

Furthermore, I envision organizing speaker events featuring renowned researchers who can offer insights into cutting-edge developments in physics. These events will not only inspire and educate but also serve as platforms for networking and mentorship. Additionally, hosting panels on various opportunities and career paths in physics will empower students to make informed decisions about their futures. By organizing community outreach, such as science fairs, demonstrations, and workshops, we can share our passion for physics with the broader community and have a meaningful impact inspiring interest in the subject.

I am committed to being readily available to listen to the visions and suggestions of members throughout Zone 1. By attending every meeting and actively soliciting input, I will ensure all perspectives are valued.

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Zone 2

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Zahin Ritee

Columbia University

Biography: Hello, I am Zahin Ritee. I am a Physics and Mechanical Engineering major. I am the AZC for zone 2 for the year 2023-24. I was the co-president of Adelphi University Physics Club. I am also a co-chair for the Burnout committee and I am in the 2025 Physcon workshop committee. I would be so excited to serve as a AZC again for the year 2024-25 if given the opportunity.

Candidate Statement: If I get elected like this year I would be working towards trying to make the inactive chapters active. I have a goal to try to add more chapters and globalizing SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma.

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Zone 3

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Rohit Raj
Juniata College

Biography: I am a junior at Juniata College, majoring in physics. My academic journey was enriched by a study abroad experience at the University of Leeds, UK, where I took advanced courses and gained diverse educational perspectives. My research interests encompass particle physics, quantum field theory, and cosmology, which I am refining through coursework and mentorship. With three research internships completed, I am currently immersed in an astronomy project. Additionally, I have a passion for computing projects, exploring simulations from globular cluster evolution to quantum computing algorithms. As an active member of the Juniata chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), I engage in outreach events, sharing the wonders of physics with local schools and communities. I am committed to fostering scientific literacy and equity in STEM education, collaborating on initiatives like CREST (Creating Equity in STEAM) to organize outreach events in remote areas. Hailing from a remote village in India, I deeply appreciate the transformative power of education and strive to contribute meaningfully to the advancement of science and education, locally and globally.

Candidate Statement: If elected, I aim to foster a stronger sense of community among Zone 3 SPS chapters by facilitating collaborative projects and initiatives for greater impact and success. I will actively encourage regular zone meetings, where all attendees can participate in idea brainstorming sessions, ensuring that every voice is heard and diverse perspectives are welcomed. Additionally, I will spearhead the creation of a Zone 3 social media group to streamline communication and information sharing among members. This platform will enable officers to highlight their chapter's activities, while also providing a means for keeping members updated on the latest developments and opportunities within SPS. Furthermore, recognizing the importance of science communication and outreach, I am committed to organizing outreach events through my chapter and exploring collaborative opportunities with other chapters to broaden our reach and strengthen camaraderie within the Zone. I am dedicated to ensuring that our zone events are welcoming to all participants and I am eager to contribute to national events organized by SPS, should such opportunities arise.

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Zone 4

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Jake Raugh
Randolph-Macon College

Biography: I am a Junior at R-MC with a double major in physics and engineering physics and a double minor in math and astrophysics. I am also a physics, math, and engineering tutor, work as a tour guide, a TA in digital electronics labs, and work that the observatory we have on campus. I plan on attending grad school to obtain a PhD in some area of theoretical physics (likely condensed matter), and hope to become a researcher.

Candidate Statement: I am very passionate about physics and science outreach, and showing the outside world that science is fun and that you don't need to be a super genius in order to do it. As president of my chapter, I love planning events where we go to the public and show others all of the cool things you can do with physics. I would bring that same mentality to being an Associate Zone Counsellor: I would urge chapters to get out into their community and help build a love for science in others. I also believe that SPS chapters (including my own) could be a lot more inviting to people who aren't physics majors, and find ways to interest all sorts of demographics.

Krystal Scott
Hampton University

Biography:  Hello My name is Krystal Scott. I am a third year physics major, material science & engineering minor at Hampton University. On campus I am a physics department ambassador. As an ambassador I has been instrumental in recruiting new physics students at events like High School Day and Honors Visitation Day. I am the President of the SPS at Hampton. With a focus on bringing women to the forefront of Physics in America, especially at HU. With my academic success and my community engagement, I have recently been awarded Student of the month for the School of Science.

I have also represented Hampton internationally being one of the only undergraduates to travel to the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI in Switzerland to conduct research on behalf of Hampton and our physics department. I have presented research on non stellarator diverters at the Division of Plasma Physics Conference. As well as being a finalist in several research poster competitions nationally. I have been invited to dinners with Nobel Prize winners. Also I presented a collection of physics based artwork at the Physics Congress Conference and was selected to be presented at their national office

Candidate Statement: I am passionate about bringing my knowledge and expertise to the next generation of scientists. I want to create a platform that allows underprivileged youth to learn about different STEM fields at a younger age so that they can have the opportunity to pursue broader paths of learning that may not be immediately available to them.

As a student, I am always striving to put my best foot forward. I’ve always put a premium on hard work and I don't fail to deliver. I have demonstrated excellence in all that I put my mind to, whether it's designing an experiment, collaborating with others, or teaching myself to build computers. My endless curiosity, combined with my willingness to take risks, leads me to believe there will be no limit to my growth and achievements in college and beyond.

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Zone 5

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Nora Hicks
North Carolina State University

Biography: My name is Nora! My pronouns are she/her and I am a sophomore at NCSU. I am pursuing a double major in physics and applied math. Currently, I hold the position of secretary in my SPS chapter. In this role, I help organize events every other week to bring together students interested in physics at my university. I actively engage in outreach opportunities including volunteering for STEM-related activities with children in the community and sharing my personal experience as a woman in physics. For the past 9 months, I've been working in a material physics lab. This experience has enhanced my communication skills through weekly meetings where I share findings, discuss challenges, and strategize our next steps. Through these interactions, I've learned to articulate my thoughts clearly and concisely. Doing research has also provided me with leadership experience including organizing and staying on track with due dates, effectively communicating my needs, and proactively troubleshooting issues within the lab environment. In my free time I love to cook for myself and others. I also am currently trying to grow my own food, such as vegetables and herbs, in my apartment.

Candidate Statement: As Associate Zone Councilor, I plan to meet with the Zone Councilor and Region 5 chapters to understand how SPS is currently supporting students with an interest in physics, and to seek ways that SPS may explicitly recruit and retain students with diverse backgrounds, identities, or interests. I will strive to create fun, engaging, and shared experiences that contribute to our academic, social, and professional development. I also want to provide more opportunities for career development that are specifically designed to cater towards students with an interest in physics. Since this position comes with the responsibility of voting on policy, I will take the time to listen to zone 5 students, and to learn from current SPS leaders.

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Zone 6

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC) 

Sofia Jolley
Florida State University

Biography: Sofia Jolley is entering her junior year at Florida State University and has been an involved member in SPS since the beginning of her undergraduate studies. Her dedication to advancing the chapter's resources led her to pioneer and assume the role of the inaugural fundraising chair position during the 2023-2024 academic year. Moreover, Sofia played an instrumental role in the planning and execution of the highly successful 2024 SPS Zone 6 Conference. Beyond her impactful contributions to SPS, Sofia frequently volunteers within the physics department, driven by her profound passion for physics and community engagement. Embracing her role as a leader within SPS, Sofia views the opportunity to lead such a vibrant community of physicists as both a privilege and an honor.

Candidate Statement: If elected, Sofia would be honored to serve on the Outreach Committee of SPS National. She deeply values the importance of fostering a sense of connectivity within the field of physics. Inspired by her desire to cultivate a tight-knit community within the physics department, she is committed to uniting individuals through shared experiences, aspirations and interests. With her strong networking abilities and optimistic outlook, Sofia is capable of reaching this goal. She plans to expand outreach efforts by actively engaging more universities and chapters and increase student participation within SPS. Through these multifaceted approaches, Sofia aims to strengthen bonds and enhance collaboration among physicists nationwide.

Yurok Song
Emory University

Biography: Yurok Song is a 2nd year college student at Emory University majoring in Physics. He is an active member of the Society of Physics Students Chapter at Emory, and currently serves as the secretary of the club. He is passionate about all things related to physics, and outside of SPS, is involved in physics TA work and biophysics research. In his free time, he loves to watch movies and play soccer with his friends.

Candidate Statement: I am interested in building stronger connections between SPS chapters and planning inter-chapter events, as well as driving forward the initiatives of SPS to our zone.

Zacary L. Martel Torres
University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras

Biography: I am Zacary L. Martel Torres, in my early high school years, I had my first experience in a leadership position, python, basics of writing a research paper and presenting in an academic setting in “STEAM Teaching At aRecibo” program.

In the University of Puerto Rico - Río Piedras, applying what I learned in STAR, I was nominated as president of our chapter. In my first semester as president, my goal was to breach the gap between first and fourth year students by highlighting key people and opportunities in our department . I also talked into having our chapter, the Math Student Organization and Computer Science Student Organization work together. We now share opportunities, activities, seminars and resources to bolster learning in our shared fields.

I work as a research assistant, with Mayra Lebron’s as PI. I gained experience working with the SAOImageDS9 program and learned about; Spitzer’s IRAC instrument, GLIMPSE 3D survey, galaxy morphology, the zone of avoidance, Ophiuchus Supercluster, and had access to seminars and symposiums. Currently I work on known galaxies inside the SMOG survey, tagging each individual galaxy so they can be fed into a machine learning algorithm.

Candidate Statement: If I am elected as Associate Zone Councilor, I plan on bolstering a strong community inside Zone 6. I am keen on applying the same networking success within SPS-UPRRP, to all relevant chapters. Encouraging communication and long distance participation will help create a larger sense of community, and a larger pool of opportunities for members. This can be achieved by highlighting key opportunities and people to the benefit of a broader scope of members. I also plan on addressing a lot of the hurdles new physicists have to face in Puerto Rico. Hopefully bringing attention to the limited access to conferences, research opportunities, speakers, and communication outside the island.

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Zone 7

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Jacob Callebs
Wayne State University

Biography: Jacob Callebs is a senior at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Pursuing his undergraduate degree in Astrophysics, Jacob works hard towards building his professional profile, from working as the President of the WSU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students to giving shows at the WSU Planetarium. Outside of Wayne State, he also serves as the APS EGLS Executive Committee Student Member. Jacob has conducted research on active galactic nuclei at WSU, as well as on quasars in a research internship with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Outside of school and his busy schedule, Jacob enjoys hobbies such as bowling with friends, going on trips around Metro Detroit, biking around Lake St. Clair, listening to music and learning more about different cultures, especially his Polish heritage. With a charismatic personality and a love for teaching others, Jacob hopes to use his term as Zone 7 Associate Zone Councilor to connect chapters with one another and drive participation in SPS activities and career building opportunities.

Candidate Statement: My first term as AZC 7 was exhilarating, as it led me towards amazing opportunities to connect with chapters all over Zone 7. From helping chapters find tools based off feedback from their chapter reports to organizing zone meetings and zone events, it’s been a blast. I am glad that I could be a leader in the Zone 7 Council and SPS Taskforce to help reach out to more chapters. This has motivated me to run for a second term, especially with my knowledge I have collected through experiences with the National Council.

Just like last year, I am committed to creating stronger bonds between chapters, as well as providing as much information as possible about opportunities from SPS National. I want to help all chapters get the tools they need, be it funding or other resources. I found joy in helping these chapters, which was reinforced by seeing them in-person during our zone events. I want to help us organize more events that allow chapters to meet other SPS members that they ordinarily wouldn’t get the chance to meet. I hope that with a second year in this position, I can have a stronger impact, and that I can build up others to later take on this position and continue the work.

Tali Lansing
College of Wooster

Biography: Tali is currently a Junior at the College of Wooster with majors in Physics and Mathematics. Tali has done nuclear astrophysics research at Duke University. She will continue working with radiation during her Medical Physics fellowship this summer. She is currently working on a chemical physics project with applications in astronomy and biology. Tali has acted as President of her school's SPS chapter for two years. In her time, she has hosted events such as trips to the COSI science museum, school wide movie nights, and traveling to conferences around the country. A main focus has been outreach programs, with events to nearly 500 elementary students. Her time as President has prepared her for the role of Associate Zone Councilor by encouraging communication within the board, implementing creative ideas for events, and staying organized to meet deadlines. Additionally, this year she joined the SPS Zone 7 Advisory Board. As a member of this board, she has learned more about how SPS is organized and how to make events happen within the organization. She is prepared to help make Zone 7 a space that represents all members and helps everyone feel welcomed and encouraged to participate.

Candidate Statement: My main goal as Associate Zone Councilor is to have events at many different schools within the Zone. Coming from a small school gives me the perspective of needing everyone to feel included, even if their physics department might have fewer resources. Hosting virtual events is one way to welcome people without the barrier of traveling. I would like to make a group chat with all of the SPS Chapter presidents within our Zone. Since we cover a large geographical area, we need to communicate available opportunities. Specifically, I hope to tell all chapters about travel scholarships to attend conferences.

I want to focus on the fun and joy that we get from physics. It can be hard to remember that when we are deep into classes, so having enjoyable events during conferences is very important. Jacob Callebs has been doing an incredible job with this, and it has been great to see him advocate for events that he thinks we will enjoy. I hope to build upon this by continuing to get feedback from members of our Zone. One way for me to get consistent feedback will be continuing to utilize the student Advisory Board. This is a great way for students to feel included and heard within our Zone.

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Zone 8

Zone Councilor (ZC)

Richard C. Prince
East Tennessee State University

Biography: Dr. Richard Prince is an Assistant Professor at East Tennessee State University where his research focuses on the application of optics and photonics to the study and manipulation of biological systems and on developing new teaching techniques to improve understanding of physical concepts in lower-division courses. He has a long history with SPS, first becoming an officer of the UTK chapter in 2010 before serving on the National Council, Executive Committee, and 2016 Congress planning committee. He received his PhD from the University of California, Irvine in 2021 and was highly active in science policy and advocacy for science at the local and national levels during that time. SPS provided the launchpad of my career, and I look forward to serving this organization and giving back to the students that it serves.

Candidate Statement: If elected to the position of Zone 8 Zone Councilor, I intend to work on communication and cross chapter activities in our zone. Zone 8 covers a wide geographical area, and it has historically been difficult for many chapters to engage with one another. As ZC, I I will work with the AZC to improve systems of communication (such as the use of Discord) across the zone, so that members will be more connected to each other. During this past Zone meeting, I began work with multiple chapters to plan the next Zone 8 meeting, and I intend to continue this work. Additionally, I have a passion for physics outreach and will encourage chapters to develop and share innovative outreach methods with one another as I see this as one of the major ways physics serves the larger community.

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Joshua Filoteo
East Tennessee State University

Biography: I am a senior at ETSU about to graduate with my Bachelor of Science degree in Physics as well as Health Science. I am currently working on an honors undergraduate thesis in biophysics for my department titled “DNA Damage Initiated by Electron Transport”. After graduation this May, I will be pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at ETSU in order to teach physics at the high school level in my community. From performing demos at our local children’s science museum to judging the regional Science Olympiad, I’ve always loved communicating science with all ages and conducting community outreach. After teaching for a few years I would like to eventually pursue either a Master’s degree or Doctorate in Medical Physics to work in the field of radiation oncology.

I have been a part of my SPS chapter since the fall of 2021; I have since served a year as Vice President from fall 2022 to spring 2023 and an currently serving a term as President from fall 2023 through spring 2024. I will be running for our chapter’s new Webmaster position in preparation for the end of my presidential term in order to keep growing our SPS chapter through social media and university networking.

Candidate Statement: If elected, I plan to work closely with current Zone 8 Councilor Dr. Richard Prince (can’t get closer than being on the same campus!) to establish a Sigma Pi Sigma chapter at our university, to host our university’s first Zone 8 Meeting, and to ultimately share the joys of physics and astronomy to not just our local community, but to all curious minds from the Midwest to the Appalachian Highlands through both in-person and online outreach. Having been to multiple Zone 8 meetings, I recognize the importance of networking with other universities, and I aim to increase inter-chapter collaborations within our Zone. I also want to serve as an advocate for teaching and communication as a career option for physics students, because I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the guidance, knowledge, and charisma from my phenomenal professors and teachers, and also because physics demos rock.


Matthew Lu
Vanderbilt University

Biography: Matthew Lu is a junior undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University majoring in physics and mathematics. His research interests include condensed matter physics, quantum information science, and partial differential equations. He is currently working on studying the role of interfacial phonon modes in the thermal conductivity of superlattices. Outside of research, he serves as the President of the Vanderbilt chapter of the Society of Physics Students to connect and foster mentorship within the undergraduate physics community. He is also the Vice President of the Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, where he works on showcasing undergraduate research and increasing accessibility to the review and publication processes. Otherwise, he serves as the APS Student Ambassador for Vanderbilt University and as secretary for Pi Mu Epsilon. In the future, Matthew hopes to pursue a PhD in experimental condensed matter physics or quantum science & engineering.

Candidate Statement: As the Associate Zone Councilor for Zone 8, I hope to connect the undergraduate community through its student leaders to promote professional development. My focus is on sharing opportunities from both SPS and other professional societies to encourage physics students to pursue experiences that push themselves. I am a strong advocate for mentorship within physics, and I will aim to further develop connections between peers across SPS chapters. With my various leadership roles across campus, I believe that I can properly represent the student perspective for the physics community.

And of course, I will plan an exciting zone meeting to welcome you all to Nashville!

Thayne Dean
Southern Illinois University-Carbondale

Biography: Thayne Dean is a Physics and Mathematics double major at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the current Associate Zone Councilor of Zone 8, as well as the current president of his local SPS chapter. Thayne is involved with the Dynamic Eclipse Broadcast Initiative, and is involved frequently in the community by hosting monthly public astronomy observations and hosting demos for K-12.

Candidate Statement: If elected, Thayne will continue to bring a sense of community to the zone. He is very prideful about helping others and will make sure everyone feels welcome and included. This may be done by reaching out to each chapter and seeing what SPS National can do to assist them at that time.

William Keener
Austin Peay State University

Biography: William has been a profound advocate for nonprofits for over 5 years, establishing a student ambassador program in high school and maintaining this service in college. He currently works as the executive assistant of research nonprofit COMBINEDBrain, tasked with transitioning partner patient advocacy groups into the consortium and website updates. In school, he is a double major in physics and computer science at Austin Peay State University in the honors program with a particular interest in mathematical/physical models and simulations. His current research covers spectroscopic models for heavy elements. In addition to coursework, he is also an officer in APSU’s chapter of SPS, APSU’s Galois Math Club President, and a member of the Honors Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Looking forward, William intends to pursue an advanced degree in computational physics while continuing his work with nonprofits.

Candidate Statement: If elected, I would work to establish or promote an SPS partnership with the Society of Indigenous Physicists to increase representation and diversity within SPS. I would encourage and facilitate information sharing about outreach opportunities and demos across the zone. Additionally, I would support Austin Peay State University as the location for the next Zone 8 Meeting, as it is a centralized location within the zone, in hopes of maximizing attendance from the Zone 8 chapters. I would communicate with chapter leaders students and faculty alike, to share all information relating to the Zone and SPS National. Moreover, I would survey each of the chapters to determine what matters most to them. The insights from this chapter-centered approach would be taken directly to the SPS Council.

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Zone 9

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Abigail Kimber
Augustana College

Biography: I am currently a undergrad at Augustana College, majoring in physics with a minor in data analytics and planned minor in astronomy. I really enjoy learning about anything that has to do with space. I also came from a high school that didn't have a good science program. That is the reason why I would like to particapate to bring science to different communities.

Candidate Statement: I don't really know what I would do maybe trying to meet with people in person if possible or a zoom/google meet to see their faces instead of just emailing or calling.

Kazi Uzayr Razin
Augustana College

Biography: I am Kazi Uzayr Razin, a sophomore studying Mechanical Engineering at Augustana College. On campus, I hold multiple roles within the academic community. Firstly, as a Peer Tutor, I provide assistance in Engineering, Math, and Physics subjects, offering support to fellow students seeking academic help. Additionally, I serve as the Head of Outreach for the Augustana Physics & Engineering Society, where I lead initiatives to engage with the broader community and promote interest in the fields of physics and engineering.I also contribute to the academic environment as a Lab Teaching Assistant for the Physics department, where I assist in laboratory sessions, providing guidance and support to students in their practical learning experiences. In the past year, I have extended my involvement by joining the steering committee of the APS-IDEA program at Augustana College, actively participating in shaping and enhancing the inclusivity and diversity initiatives within the academic community.

Candidate Statement: My foremost commitment will be to enhance communication channels with our chapters, actively promoting and supporting them in orchestrating dynamic zone meetings. I understand the importance of connecting local initiatives with the national agenda, so I want to engage with fellow students and make sure their voices are heard at the national level. My goal is to encourage chapters to excel in their activities, fostering an environment where innovation and enthusiasm thrive.

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Zone 10

Zone Councilor (ZC)

Jeremy Lusk
University of Central Arkansas

Biography: I'm an assistant professor of physics at the University of Central Arkansas and the faculty advisor for both our SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma chapters.

I first got involved with SPS as a freshman at UCA (where I now work.) SPS provided me with an instant community of folks who were excited about physics and wanted to share that excitement with the world. Through SPS, I got my first chance to teach people about physics through our outreach and engagement activities and I've never really stopped since then.

In graduate school at the University of Oklahoma, I helped co-found an organization called Lunar Sooners to do astronomy outreach around the state, and hosted dozens of star parties and public talks with my fellow graduate students. When I started a full-time teaching job at Midland College in Midland, TX I served as one of the faculty mentors for the engineering club.

At UCA, I took on the role as faculty mentor for SPS right before COVID shut down in-person instruction on campus. Re-building SPS has been incredibly challenging, but so far sucessful. I've also re-started our Sigma Pi Sigma chapter, and we've held two induction ceremonies so far, with a third planned in May.

Candidate Statement: As Zone 10 Councilor, I hope to take what I've learned from mentoring our amazing SPS students at UCA and share that with other SPS chapters in our Zone and around the nation. At the same time, i hope to learn as much as I can from all those other SPS chapters who have found new and innovative ways of championing physics and supporting their students.

The last few years have been incredibly challenging for building and maintaining communities, but SPS is worth the effort. I look at the students I have worked closely with over the last few years and marvel at how much harder it is to be a college student, in general (and a physics student, in particular) now than it was 20 years ago. I think that makes SPS all the more essential -- we provide the support and community that keeps students motivated to study physics.

SPS has been an important part of my journey to become a physicist, and if elected Zone 10 councilor, I will focus my energy on making sure that our SPS chapters can learn from one another and provide the vibrant, flourishing community that our students need!

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Brandon Lynell Grayol
Dillard University

Biography: Brandon Grayol is a 3rd year student at Dillard University. He began his affiliation with SPS in 2023. Since then, Brandon has been a representative for the physics program at Dillard. He has presented research at conferences and participated in many STEM-oriented extracurriculars. With an intention to attend graduate school in Nuclear Physics; Brandon is a highly driven scholar. He excels in his classes, having a 3.8 GPA as well as performing research experiments in the Laser Ablation and Materials Science laboratory. Brandon is an integral part of the lab, helping with multiple research experiments and co-authoring a journal article published by the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. Also, he was the leader of the student body for the Dillard University Women In Stem Summer High School Experience, which hosted 90 high school female students across the country. Brandon was instrumental in the success of this program, helping with the scheduling and logistics of the event. Given his wealth of experience and his drive to learn more from his peers, Brandon is an excellent candidate for Dillard University’s associate zone councilor.

Candidate Statement: As SPS president, my 2 main goals are to raise awareness about the physics department at Dillard University and to recruit high school students who have an interest in STEM. I will start by reaching out to local high schools and give talks to the students about what the physics department has to offer. I would also give other students the opportunity to visit the LAMS laboratory and learn about the process of laser ablation. These extra additions, in conjunction with inviting high school students to visit our hosted conferences and the esteemed DU-WISHES program, will help Dillard University maintain its goal of being a trailblazer for African-American students in physics.

Lauren Boughter 
Rhodes College

Biography: My name is Lauren Boughter and I am majoring in Physics and minoring in Computer Science at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. I am an outdoor sports enthusiast and spend my free time bouldering, sport climbing, and hiking in the mid-south. This year I had the privilege to serve as the AZC to Zone 10 as well as the vice president of my college's chapter of SPS. Being apart of SPS has not only helped me grow as a leader but further deepened my love for physics and wish for the physics community to thrive!

Candidate Statement: If re-elected, my immediate goals are to bridge the gap in communication between chapters within Zone 10, as our zone faces geographical challenges being so spread out. Creating a more unified sense of community within Zone 10 would increase opportunities for collaborations between chapters and encourage chapters to learn from one another and enrich SPS as a whole. The lack of diversity in the field of physics is a primary focus of SPS National and I would continue my current efforts to make SPS a welcoming and representative society for all. By creating open lines of communication with chapters I can speak with chapter leaders directly to find the best ways to increase participation in SPS and help make SPS representative of all the students at their university.

Madison Bernice
Louisiana Tech University

Biography: Third year physics major at Louisiana Tech University.

Candidate Statement: Provide strategic guidance and executive leadership, encourage students to actively connect and participate in SPS, develop relationships with other AZCs to help unify the organization, continue efforts of previous AZCs and develop new ideas for the future of SPS.

Michael Kempson
Henderson State University

Biography: I grew up in the rural area outside the small town of Bald Knob Arkansas. I graduated highschool there and initially went to Henderson State University to be a pilot, but my eye sight was too bad. I switched to criminal justice for a semester before some friends pressured me to challenge myself and so I switched to a physics major and am currently finishing my junior year. I participate in the Army ROTC program at Henderson and plan to be an active duty officer in the Army after graduation. I attended language school during the summer of 2023 at the University of North Georgia at Dahlonega. I can speak elementary level Japanese and am currently trying to improve my vocabulary. I currently participate in the Henderson SPS chapter and I participate in the rocketry club. On my free time I currently research materials, structural integrity, and design of bladed weapons in an effort to design the most efficient blade as possible just as a fun side project. The Army keeps my summers busy so I haven't had a chance to intern anywhere, but I'd like to work at Lockheed Martin someday. My favorite parts of physics are time dilation, optics, and quantum mechanics.

Candidate Statement: I plan to interact and connect with like minded people to share not only my ideas, but the ideas of other aspiring scientists and engineers as well. I hope to coordinate and connect people with eachother to help further projects. I intend to brainstorm and execute plans to spread general awareness about SPS and the sciences and spread awareness of ongoing projects.

Patrick Porch
Henderson State University

Biography: My name is Patrick Porch, I am 34 years old, and it would be my esteemed honor and privilege to be elected as an SPS official. I am currently enrolled in the undergraduate Physics program at Henderson State University. I am a fast learner and have vast experience in a wide array of many practical skills including exceptional verbal and written communication skills. I am highly motivated to leverage five years of achievements during my military career and am further motivated to apply these skills to push this local chapter to be the best version of itself it can be.

Candidate Statement: I plan to bring our chapters together by facilitating a greater sense of camaraderie which will be achieved by engaging members in social interactions as well as potentially fun practical applications of skillsets that would allow us to not only collect valuable data from experiments, but to also showcase to future students how to present themselves and their data professionally and concisely in an environment that they feel safe to do so.

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Zone 11

Zone Councilor (ZC)

Caio Bragatto
Coe College

Biography: Caio Bragatto is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Coe College (Iowa, USA). Bragatto earned his B.S. degree in Industrial Chemistry from the Universidade de São Paulo (São Paulo, Brasil), and his Masters and Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from the Universidade Federal de São Carlos (São Paulo, Brasil). Before being hired as an Assistant Professor, Bragatto worked as a research assistant at the Otto-Schott Institut für Materialwissenschaft (Thüringen, Germany). He specialized in ionic conductivity of glasses, focusing especially on unveiling the mechanisms behind the phenomena and working on a universal model to predict this property. Ionic conductive glasses are used mainly as electrolytes in solid-state batteries and sensors. To do so, Caio conducts both laboratory and computational experiments, complementing one part with the other.

Candidate Statement: As a club advisor, I have worked closely with the Coe College Physics Club, keeping a tradition of a united, active, and involved chapter with our community of Cedar Rapids and SPS. I want to bring our experiences with outreach events, fundraising events, recruitment, and involvement with the society to other departments who might be struggling, and to learn from other chapters who are thriving, sharing all this experience with other SPS chapters in Zone 11. I also want to be more involved with the community, learn more about the SPS operation and share my ideas on how to make this community even more accepting and welcoming.

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Katherine Ameku
Coe College

Biography: I am a junior at Coe College majoring in Physics and Math with a minor in CS. Currently, I am doing research under Dr. Steve Feller and was a visiting researcher at Georgia Tech for the summer of 2023, studying EXAFS on high-density borate glasses. I have also begun conducting research under Dr. Steve Feller and Dr. Ray Feller, studying the numismatics in Japanese American Internment Camps. I also serve as the President of Coe College’s SPS Chapter, and the Outreach Chair for the Math and Computer Science Club. I have been a member of my SPS chapter since freshman year and served as secretary my sophomore year. While working on our executive board, our chapter has been deemed an Outstanding Chapter for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 academic years. I love organizing events for students and the community, inspiring people to pursue physics and astronomy.

Outside of academics, I am a Committee Woman for the Jackson County (Missouri) Democratic Committee, representing Blue Sub-District 5. I also serve on the Missouri Democratic Party Senate Committee as the Committeewoman for Missouri’s 11th Senatorial District. I am very proud to be voted in to represent my community!

Candidate Statement: I am excited to run for Associate Zone Counselor and potentially represent Zone 11. I strongly believe in the mission of SPS and have loved being a part of this community for the last three years. If elected to this position, I plan to emphasize developing a stronger network between institutions in Zone 11 and assist with developing physics outreach programs within Zone 11. We are all better together and create a bigger impact if we are a united effort. I would want to organize meetings between chapter leaders to brainstorm how to work together as a team, learning from each other’s successes. I would also like to have relationships with other people in the SPS community beyond Zone 11 and learn the operation's inner workings at the national level.

Sigurd Saude
North Dakota State University

Biography: Hey, my name is Sigurd and I'm majoring in Physics and Mathematics at North Dakota State University. I'm currently in my junior year and am serving as the President of my university's SPS chapter. Last year, my chapter hosted the Zone 11 meeting and I had a wonderful time meeting other students interested in physics and learning about their chapters. During my sophomore year I worked as an undergraduate research assistant studying microgels using computational physics under my Professor Alan Denton. I presented. I've held other leadership roles in clubs on my campus, as well as engaged with prospective students. If you'd like to know my hobbies, I like to play guitar, go rock climbing, and build things.

Candidate Statement: If I am elected, my plan is to focus on fostering communication between the SPS chapters in Zone 11. The chapters I've met at the Zone meetings or PhysCon have great events and projects that they get their members and community involved. I would like to highlight these ideas so chapters can be inspired by one another and ideas can flow freely. I believe having that communication will grow all SPS chapters involved.

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Zone 12

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Luxanna Sands
William Jewell College

Biography: Luxanna Sands graduated from Topeka High School and is currently attending William Jewell College as a sophomore with a 3.709 GPA. She is currently a student-athlete as well, involved with the women's soccer team. Luxanna began freshman year as a civil engineering major, but made the decision to pursue a physics major instead within the dual-degree program at Jewell, with the aim to eventually study for a bachelor's in mechanical engineering at a separate institution after completing the bachelor's of physics at Jewell. She spent the previous summer as a physics research assistant at Jewell, working with Dr. Blane Baker and Dr. Maggie Sherer. This position allowed her to have the opportunity to collect data on specific stars alongside Sherer at an observatory in Arizona. She helped work on compiling this data back at Jewell, and then spent the rest of the summer working with both Sherer and Baker on Matlab modeling and refining lab processes for the next semester's students.

Candidate Statement: As the Associate Zone Councilor for Zone 12, my goal would be to expand our chapter's reach to other students in physics-related disciplines. Community is so important and I want to urge more students to join SPS. I believe that the more perspectives we have, the better, and sometimes reaching out a little past strictly-physics majors will allow us to expand on our own thoughts and ideas. I believe that this is the sort of collaboration that embraces differences and produces innovation.

Taking on the responsibilities of this position, I would also prioritize clear communication with other chapters as well as communication within my own chapter. William Jewell College has a beautiful campus and physics lounge, perfect for zone meetings. I would love to encourage our chapter to host zone meetings as often as possible, and to make our chapter an inviting environment for the other chapters within our zone to feel comfortable meeting others in.

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Zone 13

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC) 

Deedee Jansen
Austin College

Biography: My name is Deedee Jansen, and I am an engineering physics major with a math and theater minor at Austin College. Although Austin College is a small liberal arts school, I have had the opportunity to hold many leadership positions on campus. I am the SPS chapter, the theater honor society president, and a VP of two other clubs. Additionally, I am in charge of the Resident Assistants and a Teaching Assistant for the physics department. Perhaps the most dorky of all, I am the student coordinator for the Improv Troupe. Participating in these many clubs has given me the skills to communicate, think on my feet, and learn how SPS can collaborate with many organizations. I'm passionate about sharing science outside of the lab and showing how wonderful it is with students of other career paths. My chapter of SPS has run events with Greek life, the local Girl Scout chapter, and the Environmental Activism Club on campus, just to name a few. Society of Physics Students shows how science and physics impact every realm of life and, inversely, how every realm of life affects physics. Society of Physics Students allows physics to exit the laboratory and enter people's lives.

Candidate Statement: As president of my local SPS chapter, I've become more involved with national SPS and seen how communication is vital within zones and at a national level. I want to make this national communication accessible to all SPS chapters and encourage communication within the zone. I have particularly enjoyed the implementation of the group chats and Discord channel for SPS. I've started finding ways of improving these chats for both my local chapter of SPS and the other organizations that I run. Through this, I've seen the exchange of ideas that have allowed for more well-attended programs with a more significant impact on the community. Additionally, Zone 13 is filled with schools of varying sizes and needs. This provides a unique opportunity to deepen the communication between these different types of schools and see what works for one group and how that can be adapted for another. One significant goal of mine would be to create a database of programs that have been run and the resources needed to run those so that any SPS chapter could access them. If elected, I would strengthen communication channels between the various schools in Texas.

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Zone 14

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Aidan Garcia St. George
University of Colorado-Denver

Biography: I am a 3rd year physics student at the University of Colorado Denver. I have been working in Michael (Bodhi) Rogers' Geophysical Archeology lab for about a year and a half. I plan on going into graduate school for Physics as soon as I graduate with my Bachelors in Physics in the spring of 2025. I am incredibly excited to continue learn more about physics!

Candidate Statement: I am a junior undergraduate physics student at CU Denver. If elected, I will strive to enhance student engagement and create a positive community for all physics students. I'm very excited to be a candidate for the SPS Associate Zone 14 Councilor!

David A. Swartz
University of Denver

Biography: I am a first-year undergraduate student who is doing research in the condensed matter physics department of the University of Denver on laser holography. I work as a lab technician in the chemistry department building computer systems used in chemistry and quantum physics research. I spearheaded a project to restore Chamberlin's student observatory at Du which has been successful in obtaining funding from the university and making astronomy more available to Du students and the public. In my free time I post on a social app called crimson connect that connects Du students. I announced that I would be bringing my telescope out to the campus green at a specific time to look at the sky. Each night students would wander over and be blown away by the heavens they had yet to see with their own eyes. I had become somewhat of a campus celebrity known as "Space dude!" or "The physics guy."

Most importantly I am also a proud member of the SPS, a place that became a home for me. I have a plan for the future of SPS here at Du. A plan and vision to make SPS a home for all people alike and a beacon for science and physics of the modern world.

Candidate Statement: My love for physics knows no bounds. My love for people knows no bounds. I will do everything in my power to make the SPS community a better place.

1) I plan on encouraging and seeing that outreach is also focused towards students at colleges. I believe that SPS doesn't have the publicity that it deserves and needs to be more of a "household" name at college campuses.

2) I believe that SPS could do great deeds as far as outreach in the community by traveling to local schools, parks, and museums. I would also see to it that physics clubs that show the spirit and initiative that SPS encourages are awarded each year.

3) I know that SPS's deeds and community networking is something that cities and states love to see. By building connections and relationships with local newspapers and news channels SPS could gain publicity for the great things we do for the community.

4) Each state or university could benefit greatly from yearly surveys for students involved in SPS. Students would complete anonymous surveys on each club on ways things that could be improved or kept in the next year. This process allows for inward reflection making a better club than was before each year.

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Zone 15

Zone Councilor (ZC)

Kelby T. Hahn
University of Utah

Biography: Dr. Kelby T. Hahn is an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of Utah. Their experience as a physics education researcher fuels their direction for teaching and supporting students. They are passionate about students' experiences with physics and strongly believe they should extend beyond the classroom. She has been actively engaged with SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma since their own freshman year. Dr. Hahn has been Associate Zone Councilor, many chapter officer positions, an SPS Intern, and now SPS chapter advisor. They have benefited from SPS throughout their physics journey and are excited to support current students in doing the same. Dr. Hahn has a PhD and MS in Physics Education Research from Oregon State University and a BS in Physics from Utah State University.

Candidate Statement: I am passionate about SPS and engaging physics students with the broader community. My own journey in physics started in SPS Zone 15 and I'm really excited to help build back up the connections between the schools of the zone. I seek to build connections between the schools of our zones by rethinking the zone meeting. My goal is to work across schools in the zone to consider joint road trip zone meetings, hybrid zone meetings, and/or destination trip zone meetings that can connect schools that are geographically isolated.

Vanessa Chambers
Utah State University

Biography: My name is Vanessa Chambers. I am the Program coordinator for the Utah State University Department of Physics, and advisor for our SPS chapter.

I graduated from Utah State with my BS in Physics in 2018 and then with my Masters of Technical Communication in 2021. As an undergraduate I held many offices in the USU Chapter of SPS and served as Associate Zone Councilor for Zone 15 for two years.

My experience with SPS outreach spurred me to get my graduate degree. My intent was to combine my physics knowledge and my communication skills and find a professional job where I could communicate physics in an accessible way to a wider audience. Instead, the USU Physics Department decided to hire me as an assistant and later program coordinator, allowing me to stay active and involved with both our faculty and students. When the previous SPS advisor decided to pass the torch, my enthusiasm to help restore our SPS chapter was happily accepted, and I became the advisor. I am pleased to continue my involvement SPS and our students!

Candidate Statement: Having previously served in the position of Associate Zone Councilor I am aware of the issues that face our zone. Zone 15 is massive, and communication is always an issue. If elected as Zone Councilor, my first task will be reaching out to physics departments in the zone to find out if they have a chapter. To my knowledge Zone 15 averages between 5-7 active chapters at any given time. If there are other chapters in our zone that are active, my goal would be to engage them in a conversation to find out what they need and how I could support them. I will encourage universities in our zone to investigate SPS and the benefits membership offers, then continue the conversation with me to get chapters re-activated or started.

I will work with the Associate Zone Councilor to maintain regular communication among chapters and be a conduit between the National Council and local chapters. I would love the opportunity to promote the SPS mission among existing/new local chapters and provide any support possible for students and departments in my zone. SPS gave me more benefits than I ever expected, and I would love the chance to pass those same benefits on to others.


Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Abigail M Hardy
Brigham Young University

Biography: I am currently a Junior pursuing my undergraduate degree in Physics at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. My enthusiasm for physics extends beyond the classroom, as evidenced by my active participation in Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics, where I relish the opportunity to engage with diverse perspectives and exchange ideas with fellow enthusiasts.

During my academic journey, I have been privileged to serve on the BYU Physics Advisory Council for the past two years. In this role, I have been instrumental in orchestrating initiatives aimed at facilitating students' access to internship opportunities and guiding them towards successful career paths. Whether it's assisting with resume building or assisting in finding further internships, I am deeply committed to empowering my peers to thrive in their chosen fields. In essence, my academic journey thus far has been defined by a relentless pursuit of excellence and a genuine desire to make a positive impact. Whether it's fostering collaboration within the physics community or leveraging resources to ensure successful careers, I am driven by a passion for connecting with others and effecting meaningful change.

Candidate Statement: If elected, my primary focus will be on strengthening the sense of community and collaboration among the various chapters within our zone. I believe that enhancing our social media presence will serve as a pivotal tool in facilitating communication and engagement among members. By leveraging platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn, we can cultivate an interactive space where ideas, resources, and opportunities can be readily shared. Additionally, in-person visits to schools will deepen connections and provide insights. I propose more frequent virtual meetings to coordinate service efforts efficiently. Together, we can cultivate a dynamic community empowering each member to contribute meaningfully.

Anneke VanRegenmorter
University of Utah

Biography: My name is Anneke. I am a sophomore at the University of Utah pursuing an honors degree in Biomedical Physics. I have been an active member of our SPS chapter, currently serving as the Vice President. Outside of school, I have spent a significant time working in the medical field, working as both a medical assistant and in a clinical laboratory. I am excited to share my passion about both physics and medicine. I look forward to maintaining the fun and collaborative SPS environment we have managed to foster here.

Candidate Statement: If elected for AZC, I hope to work on further growing and connecting the SPS chapters within our zone. With the huge hit in participation our (and many other chapters) took after the covid-19 pandemic, I would like to focus on strategies to rebuild and reconnect our chapters.

Brett Whited
Brigham Young University of Idaho

Biography: My love for physics began in high school with a wonderful teacher who made physics fun. I served an LDS mission in central California where I met many people from all walks of life. In this 2 years of service and self discovery my love for math and science never dimmed. I met a medical physicist who showed me that I could help others through my love of physics. I currently hold a 4.0 gpa while being the president of SPS at my institution, a Teachers Assistant, and a new student mentor for 49 of the incoming freshman. I’ve met with 3 medical physicist to deepen my understanding in the field I love so much.

Candidate Statement: I am of the opinion that all physics majors can be successful if they believe they can do it. An experience I had as a boy scout shaped my vision for college when on a hike there was a steep trail that lead to a wonderful view. Many of us were tiered and done for the day but he said that some sights in life are reserved for those who are willing to put in the effort to see them. My hope for all physics majors is that they can believe in them selves enough to overcome these challenges and grow to meet them. This comes with opportunities for them to explore and discover what aspect of physics they want to pursue, to have passion and vision and believe it will be worth it.

Hailey Kim
Westminster University

Biography: I am currently enrolled in Westminster University in Salt Lake City, Utah as a Neuroscience major undergrad, but I had a strong passion towards astronomy and physics since the beginning of my high school years. Hence, I've reached out to one of my physics professor to actively seek my passion towards physics and astronomy by myself, and ended up in this SPS community. I have served numerous leadership position from grade school, and am currently serving as a senate in my school's ASW and member of the council in PPHS club. I believe that I will be a strong candidate for the AZC position not only because of the numerous leadership positions I've had, but also because of my background as a non-physics major in a small college that would help to expand the comprehensiveness and diversity into the SPS society by engaging more students who are non-physics major, or in underrepresented school inside of SPS chapter who are passionate about physics and astronomy.

Candidate Statement: If I get the chance to serve for the SPS as an AZC, I will actively try to engage each chapters and members so that chapters from marginalized or underrepresented locations or populations would have better access to broader parts of the SPS. Also, I will provide members of SPS with better access and connection to the resources and research opportunities regarding physics and astronomy to increase the level of engagement and strengthen the purpose of SPS; it was only after I've attended the SPS zone meeting that there were so many intriguing research opportunities that were past the due date to apply, and I would like to avoid that happening to current and future members of our zone 15 SPS members. Therefore, I will promote and advertise various valuable resources that can make each member of the SPS a strong candidate and a successful individual for their career/future.

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Zone 16

Zone Councilor (ZC)

Dwight Luhman
Sandia National Laboratories

Biography: I'm a PhD physicist with expertise in quantum computing. I've been working at Sandia National Laboratories for more than 10 years and have served on the SPS national council for the previous 2 years.

Candidate Statement: As zone councilor I will continue to enthusiastically represent the SPS chapters in New Mexico, Arizona, and Mexico at National Council. I am especially interested in expanding the community of SPS to more students in our zone and being an advocate for the physics community.

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Charles Wszalek
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

Biography: Charles Wszalek is a Junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Prescott in the Space Physics program. He is working under Dr. Michelle Zanolin to do research on gravitational wave interferometry. Charles has also worked for the last few semesters as a lab teaching assistant and grader to help his fellow students pursue Physics. As the previous Zone 16 AZC he has worked with several chapters in Zones 16 and 13 and helped them to achieve their goals and built intra-chapter community.

Candidate Statement: If reelected I will continue to build community in the Zone by reaching out to chapters on a personal level by traveling to their campuses as much as I can to overcome the large geographical distances in Zone 16. I will also reach out to chapters on a regular basis to keep up an active line of communication. Over all, I will strive to build the intra-chapter community that Zone 16 needs.

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Zone 17

Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Emma Falk
Lewis & Clark College

Biography: Emma grew up in Davis, California and attained a great interest in physics through her family and teachers throughout high school. She decided to attend Lewis and Clark College to attend a smaller school. She enjoyed having smaller classes to build stronger connections with her peers and professors, which has since been a great success for her education and passion for physics. A smaller school has allowed for a great research opportunity, which she has begun this year in an experimental atomic physics lab with a recently hired professor at the school. The research experience that she has gathered thus far has encouraged her toward pursuing other research opportunities post undergraduate graduation. Before this research experience, Emma spent a summer at UC Davis, doing research for the micrometeorological department as an undergrad research assistant. These experiences with research and her course load thus far have bolstered her passion for physics and mathematics, and led her to interest in being involved with the physics community, both at a school and local level and at a national level, which is what has prompted this nomination for AZC of Zone 17.

Candidate Statement: If nominated for AZC of Zone 17, Emma has interest in strengthening the connection between her chapter at Lewis & Clark College and the national organization of SPS. Being a small school on the west coast, the Lewis & Clark chapter faces some challenges with communication, and the physics department is in a tumultuous time with faculty spots unfilled and overturn among faculty for the past few years. She is greatly interested in discovering ways in which she can help her physics department and support her peers through being involved with the National Council for SPS.

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Zone 18

Zone Councilor (ZC)

Chad Kishimoto
University of San Diego

Biography: I am born and raised in Zone 18: growing up in Honolulu; completing my undergraduate work at Caltech, graduate work at UCSD, and postdoc at UCLA; teaching as a freeway flyer across San Diego County; and now at the University of San Diego (USD), where I have been the advisor of the SPS Chapter at USD for the past 10 years. When I began my career at USD, I collaborated with the students to reinvigorate the dormant SPS chapter. Our chapter has brought vitality and connection between students and faculty in the department, is oft named an Outstanding Chapter, and I was honored in January as the Outstanding Chapter Advisor of the year by SPS National.

My group of USD undergraduate researchers studies neutrino astrophysics, developing computational models to probe the weak interaction in astrophysical environments. I am passionate about supporting student opportunities in and out of the classroom to build community and in doing so, develop their identities as budding physicists and astronomers. In addition to my work as the Zone Councilor and on the SPS National Council, I serve on the executive board of the Southern California chapter of the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Candidate Statement: As the Zone 18 Councilor, I’ve had the privilege of expanding the horizons of my SPS community, connecting with fellow advisors and SPS student leaders and members. I have witnessed the instant camaraderie between chapters at zone meetings, the excitement of PhysCon attendees, and the connection with history at Sigma Pi Sigma inductions of chapters long dormant. I am inspired by how SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma supports students’ passion for physics as well as their commitment to build a community of peers to support each other. I am committed to serving the eager students and dedicated advisors across our zone to strengthen our shared community.

In addition to strengthening the Societies as a member of the National Council and through the preparation for the next Physics Congress (PhysCon), I look to support three main goals: (1) to continue to find geographical diversity in the location of zone meetings, and encouraging wide spread attendance by hosting two zone meetings; (2) to encourage and support chapters in the zone to attend the next PhysCon, Halloween weekend in 2025; and (3) to encourage the growth of chapters’ interactions with the national organization and Sigma Pi Sigma.

Mary Oksala
California Lutheran University

Biography: Dr. Mary Oksala is an Associate Professor and Chair of Physics at California Lutheran University, now in her 8th year of teaching. By training, she is an observational stellar astrophysicist. Prior to joining the CLU faculty, Dr. Oksala received her Bachelors of Science degree in Physics from West Chester University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Physics from the University of Delaware.  She was a postdoctoral researcher for 3 years at the Astronomical Institute of the Academy of the Czech Republic, located in rural Prague, before receiving a 2 year postdoctoral fellowship at the Paris Observatory in France.

Candidate Statement: I’ve been involved with the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma throughout my academic career, and I have been the SPS advisor to our chapter at Cal Lutheran for the last 7 years. I find that every year I gain experience and advice from our Zone Councilors, learn about sending students to PhysCon, and find more people that care about students and their future to interact with and learn from. I’ve been a student or a faculty member at a wide variety of institutions and I’ve seen engagement at many different levels. I would love to work with regional partners to increase diversity and inclusion efforts, ensuring that students know that they belong in physics. The communities we build in physics programs are incredibly important and I would love to be involved with creating solutions and efficient systems to continue building those connections.


Associate Zone Councilor (AZC)

Josh Zhang
University of California Berkeley

Biography: I attended Concord-Carlisle Regional High School in Massachusetts, where I was co-captain of the math team and the varsity tennis team. During my time in the math team, I organized for students interested to attend the Harvard MIT Mathematics Tournament and opened up the AMC to more students. I hoped to cultivate more interest in math and give bright students who never had the opportunity or interest to participate a chance to shine. I also led the varsity tennis team to the D2 State Championship in 2021 and 2022. I currently attend UC Berkeley, where I am double majoring in pure mathematics and physics. My current research is in the antimatter area, where I work in collaboration with CERN and the ALPHA-G experiment. I am also a member of SPS at Berkeley, where I coordinated with students from other student organizations to organize the Berkeley Integration Bee, securing the funding and booking the room required for the event. At SPS meetings we discuss ways to expand our influence not only at UC Berkeley but also the surrounding area, and recently we have given tours to AP Physics C classes from local high school of the Berkeley physics building.

Candidate Statement: As zone councilor, I hope to make SPS more accessible for incoming students and anyone looking for like-minded physicists interested in higher physics. I believe SPS has already grown tremendously in the recent years, with more events and greater popularity than ever, but there is always room to be more inclusive and welcoming to new members. In addition, I aim to run more state wide events across the various SPS chapters and connect with other physicists from across Zone 18.

Leo Illing
Santa Clara University

Biography: I am pursuing a bachelor's degree at Santa Clara University with majors in Physics and Math and a minor in Art History. As a member of Phi Delta Theta, I served as the social chair and am currently the mental health chair. In these positions, I scheduled, communicated, and coordinated twenty 70+ person events. I am actively working towards extending our school's psychological resources to all fraternities on campus.

I am the VP of the Society of Physics Students where I work to foster community while creating opportunities for professional development. Our most successful endeavor has been our weekly Journal Clubs. This entails one student creating a talk off of an article. We also host a variety of outreach events, our most popular being astronomy night. For this, we bring telescopes to the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. Over the last year, I have been working in a laser optics lab. I am working with femtosecond titanium sapphire lasers to create a form of spectroscopy that combines the advantages of FTIR and Dual Comb Spectroscopy. I had the opportunity to present my research at the American Physical Society Far West 2023 Meeting and am working towards my first publication.

Candidate Statement: From my time as Vice President of SPS, as well as my involvement in both a social and business fraternity, I have seen how a variety of student organizations operate. Each has its unique needs and people, yet each has the ultimate goal of creating deep bonds between its members. As Associate Zone Councilor, I will use my extensive experience to advise other chapters on how to build community effectively. In my opinion, it is our SPS chapter's tight-knit community that makes our Physics majors so successful. Having a network of like-minded peers allows our students to flourish into great scientists, into great people.

I would also like to expand the professional development recourses available to SPS students. Through professors, students are exposed to the academia route. However, this is not the only career path that Physics majors can flourish in. There are a variety of fields where Physics majors excel ranging from finance to policy. These paths are often not talked about but may end up being a Physics major's true calling. Ultimately, I want to highlight the multitude of ways that Physics majors are employable.

Sanket Jadhav
California Lutheran University

Biography: A sophomore at California Lutheran University, I was one of the very few freshmen recipients of the prestigious Swenson Science research fellowship in summer 2023. The fellowship facilitated me to delve into particle physics research under the mentorship of his faculty mentor Dr. Sebastian Carron, a professor and High Energy Physics experimental physicist at Cal Lu, where my contributions to optimizing SUSY collision events data analysis algorithms will ultimately aid in the progress of the scientific knowledge of the human society. I actively engage in extracurricular activities, assuming leadership roles in various clubs like Secretary of the Physics Club and Vice President of Math Club, participating in music contests, and garnering numerous awards for my achievements. As a Physics Department Assistant and Math Center Tutor at CLU, I share my expertise and passion with peers, fostering an environment of collaborative learning and growth. Driven by a profound commitment to inclusivity and societal advancement as part of the LGBTQ+ community, I aspire to leverage my expertise in physics to address technical challenges while championing diversity and equity.

Candidate Statement: I will make sure to foster a pro-Physics mindset on campus by aiding the Physics Club at CLU in organizing and holding Physics related events, while also advocating for equity and representation by keeping the space open for not just people interested in Physics but everyone and their opinions. I, along with the officers of the CLU Physics Club, plan on having activities like observatory trips, professional development seminars, notable speakers, stargazing, experiments and entertainment nights, etc. for our Physics club meetings. I will strive to carry out my leadership duties in my zone by making our SPS chapter a benchmark for other chapters in the zone, helping our fellow zonal SPS chapters gain success at their respective campuses, and making space for underrepresented groups in Physics to make sure that their voices are being heard. I will ground my decisions and actions in compassion and rationality, while also abiding by the refined and just legality set forth by the SPS that ultimately rules all. And last but not the least, I will help the SPS chapter at California Lutheran University provide not only an academic, but also a fun, memorable experience to its participants.

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