Zone 13 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

October 29, 2015 to October 31, 2015

Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Adryanna Smith

SPS Chapter:


Caleb Smith (left) and Blake Birmingham from Baylor University, preparing the liquid nitrogen ice cream for a crowd during the reception

Baylor University’s Society of Physics Students chapter joined with the university Physics Department to welcome guests to the Zone 13 Fall 2015 Conference. This semiannual TSAPS/TSAAPT/SPS conference served as an outlet for the presentation and discussion of original research. Approximately 300 professors, researchers, graduate students, undergraduates, and high schoolers gathered in Waco, Texas, over the course of three days. Plenary talks and an abundance of colloquium sessions were held on campus, and attendees’ research was highlighted in all of the major fields within physics.

SPS Presentation and Reception

Our local chapter began preparations for the conference early in the semester in order to capitalize on the opportunity to host peers from across Texas. During chapter meetings, we brainstormed activities to make the first evening of the conference engaging for all conference attendees, especially SPS members.

A reception in the expansive Baylor Sciences Building atrium on the first evening acted as a welcome to all guests. In the center of the action, SPS members made science come alive with a liquid nitrogen ice cream presentation. Students coupled the ice cream produced in the display with Dr. Pepper soda to create a special treat—Dr. Pepper floats! We then catered the rest of the floats. These treats are a unique and cherished tradition at Baylor University, and our members enjoyed fusing local and scientific flare. At the reception, guests also enjoyed pizza while dropping coins into a giant coin funnel. The funnel is located on the physics wing and serves as a mesmerizing demo for the curvature of Einstein’s space-time. All proceeds collected from the funnel go to the local SPS chapter.

SPS Members Event

As a special event for all SPS members attending the conference, we licensed a viewing of the film Back to the Future II. This movie was chosen since the “future” in the film actually fell the week prior to the event—and time-travel is always exciting to imagine. Our SPS treasurer created flyers to advertise the event, and our members helped create goodie bags of fall-themed snacks for students to enjoy. The movie night drew a good number of members, and many universities’ chapters were represented. The evening proved to be a successful way to facilitate conversation with peers.

Additional Conference Activities

To summarize the remainder of the conference, SPS members presented research posters and held colloquium talks lasting 10 minutes plus questions. Baylor’s own members shared their work in areas as diverse as astronomy, particle physics, and string theory. During these sessions, students were exposed to the fascinating scope of physics research, and opportunities for questions and conversation were found after presentations and in hallways. Students could also apply for the Texas Section Hyer Award for excellence in research in addition to competing for a presentation award at the conference.

In addition to the excellent set of plenary talks and invited speakers, the conference banquet, seating 200 people, was held at Baylor McLane Stadium on Friday evening. The keynote speaker was Dr. James Kakalios from the University of Michigan. He delivered a fascinating talk on the physics of superheroes. The volunteers and SPS members from Baylor University certainly enjoyed planning and hosting the Zone 13 conference this year. We appreciated the opportunity to greet friends both old and new and to hear of the wonderful work that professors, colleagues, and students are advancing in across the state of Texas.


Included below are photos that highlight the conference, with SPS members, visitors, events, talks, and presentations.

Zone 13 on Facebook

Areas of Alignment: Career Resources:

Frank Ashley of Texas A&M, smiling with his creation

Balancing nails in a hands-on experience in the lab rooms

Students and educators assembling and balancing nails in a hands-on experience in the lab rooms

Students and educators assembling and balancing nails in a hands-on experience in the lab rooms

Original research being presented and judged