A Letter from the SPS President

Letter from the Director

A Letter from the SPS President

 Alina Gearba-Sell, PhD, Professor of Physics, United States Air Force Academy

“The mere formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.” —A. Einstein

Alina Gearba-SellStephen Hawking once said: “No one undertakes research in physics with the intention of winning a prize. It is the joy of discovering something no one knew before.” Within the Society of Physics Students, we would also suggest that this joy extends to sharing the discovery with the community and learning from one another.

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional organization designed to support students, faculty, and departments with a variety of programs, activities, and initiatives. These initiatives aim to enrich the undergraduate experience outside the classroom, along with building a strong community. SPS provides scholarships, research, and outreach awards, as well as career and professional development resources.

By providing financial aid through travel awards, SPS offers opportunities for undergraduates to present their research at professional conferences. During these conferences, students are able to enhance their understanding of the field, interact with their peers, and make valuable connections that will benefit them throughout their careers. With the relaunch of the Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics (JURP) in the summer of 2018, undergraduates now also have the opportunity to publish their research findings in a peer-reviewed and searchable journal dedicated to highlighting student contributions to any physics-related field.

As an instructor, research mentor, and SPS faculty advisor, I truly believe that involvement in a research project enhances an undergraduate’s experience in a way that no amount of coursework can. The hands-on problem solving and critical thinking skills that research develops are invaluable tools that will be useful in graduate school and in whatever profession you might find yourself. Written and oral communication skills are just as vital, which is why research projects usually incorporate at least one of these aspects. Further, writing a research article for a professional journal and experiencing the peer-review process cultivates a related, yet distinct, set of skills. Moreover, it instills in undergraduates a sense of belonging to a scholarly community while opening the door for future collaborations.

JURP is more than an avenue for disseminating results of undergraduate research. To showcase what our talented physics majors are capable of, JURP also includes a collection of student writings documenting their experiences at various professional meetings, award-winning chapter programs, the SPS summer internship program, and other special SPS programs.

The Society of Physics Students proudly invites you to read the second annual issue of Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics. In addition to student research, you will learn about the experiences of students attending national meetings, such as CUWiPs or the APS March Meeting. You will also read about chapters that have been awarded for their outreach and contributions they have made to their communities, and so
much more.

It is our hope that you will keep JURP in mind when starting your research project or chapter programs in the fall and consider contributing to next summer’s issue. It is also our hope that JURP will increase awareness of the diversity of the SPS programs and that you will take advantage of these opportunities as you engage with others in your chapter and zone.