SPS Zone 1 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

April 14, 2023 to April 16, 2023

Orono, ME

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Lucy Slatery, Theo Brucker

SPS Chapter:



After years of remote Zone Meetings, the University of Maine hosted an in person Zone Meeting at the Orono Campus starting Friday, April 14th. The event started at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center, a research lab located in the center of campus home to the largest 3D printer, the newly 3D printed house, and the W2 used to test scale models of floating wind turbines. While the tour group was small, the attendees from Brown were enthusiastic at the opportunity to see a growing research facility. After a long day of travel for most, the zone meeting participants met at local hotspot Margharita’s to catch up over dinner and talk about the plan for the days ahead. We socialized about how colleges in Zone 1 had functioned since COVID, with the majority of attendees being underclassmen and having never experienced a pandemic free semester. After dinner, the 21+ attendees went to see the UMaine Treasurer’s band play at a local brewery.

Bright and early Saturday morning, all the SPS members checked in, received a name tag, and prepped for the research talks and lectures from UMaine grad students, faculty, and research staff. The day started with Frank Dudish, a UMaine Lecturer who is deeply involved in the SPS Chapter, introducing the University campus, Orono, and the history of Bennett Hall. Slightly behind schedule, Nicole Gugliucci spoke on opportunities with SPS National and the joy she experienced at attending an in person zone meeting. Briefly, Lucy Slattery, the UMaine SPS President gave a flight attendant-like speech on the emergency exits, the bathrooms, and what was planned for the day. After, Brandon Aho, a Phd candidate in Dr. Hess’s lab, gave a short presentation on the use of FPALM, a super resolution technique, to identify the mechanism of the influenza virus and cluster behavior of various molecules in infected cells. This research talk was followed by a brief tour of the lab and demonstration of the microscopes. Following Brandon, Dr. Nicholas Bingham gave a talk on nanomagnetism and the induction of chaotic magnetic behavior. David Sturm, an AAPT representative, gave a short presentation on how AAPT can be helpful for students, and the upcoming events. Next was lunch, which was picked up by UMaine students from local Orono restaurants, and everyone ate outside at picnic tables by the UMaine Bear Statue. Some participants chose this time to wander the campus, and then as a group everyone toured FIRST with Dr. Bingham.

Following the FIRST tour, UMaine students made an emergency coffee run to help raise the energy after a very long and information heavy morning. Dr. Neil Comins, an astrophysics professor, gave a lecture on a lighter note. Dr. Comins talked through “What If” scenarios, like what if the moon didn’t exist?. He also showed how using these scenarios, while super fun and a useful approach to understanding the complexities of our universe, can also be used to encourage children to pursue STEM through implementation in Minecraft. Dr. Comins was a lively presenter who definitely gets the award for the most laughs. Following Dr. Comins, the whole Zone Meeting voted on what to do next - the Chapter socialization that had been planned to discuss hardships during COVID and the future of the Zone, or do a Physics Kahoot. There was overwhelming support for the Kahoot. The Kahoot was displayed on the big projector, and everyone participated in questions ranging from the history of physics to the fundamental equations that govern the universe.

A handful of attendees brought along posters for a student poster session where they presented research and answered questions from the rest of the members. To wrap up a brain-heavy day of research talks, poster sessions, lectures, and lab tours, the members were given a break with an optional movie night viewing of Back to the Future. Accompanying the movie was liquid nitrogen ice cream created right there in the lecture hall, some snacks, and UMaine’s chapter President’s dog, Marley.

On Sunday morning, before everyone got off to their travels, the remaining members drove to the Hirundo trail for something a bit more outdoorsy. Led by Marley, the group had a last chance to socialize, look back at the events from the Zone Meeting, and brainstorm ideas for the coming year.

Areas of Alignment: