SPS Zone 9 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

November 3, 2023 to November 4, 2023

Milwaukee, WI

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Serena Determan

SPS Chapter:

WAPT & SPS Zone 9 Joint Meeting, November 3-4, 2023 Narrative

The conference opened up on Friday afternoon, the auditorium in the Wehr Chemistry building gradually began to fill up. Some students were there as a class requirement, others were intrigued about the speaker, and then the contingents of physics teachers, professors, and students. As the time drew near the murmurs in the audience had grown loud, everyone was socializing and excited for the coming events. When Caleb Bonyun walked out, the large room immediately became silent. Right away he introduced himself and got right into his talk, very quickly those who were solely there for class became enthralled and didn’t want to leave their seats. Caleb Bonyun did an absolutely amazing job with his talk, emphasizing that the sciences are for everyone. Through his presentation he interacted with the crowd, seeing how many physicists were there, emphasizing that physics students were physicists just as much as their professors.  He told us all about his journey to where he currently is, he emphasized his unorthodox path to where he was. He wasn’t afraid to talk about his shortcomings and personal challenges that created the person that he is today. Through his talk you could see all of the emotions of the audience, at some points, you could see tears of recognition, and at others beaming smiles and a chorus of laughter from his sly humor. Going in, everyone knew Caled Bonyun for his social media presence and his demos showing how fun physics can be, and we as the audience got more than our fair share of cool demos. When we exited that auditorium we were all changed, empowered, we could do anything, we would find what we were meant to do and nobody could tell us otherwise.

Caleb Bonyun was the perfect opening speaking for this meeting, he demonstrated what all of us care about as a community. We want people to succeed in physics, we want to teach it effectively and we want to make it accessible, even as physics students we want that. After this meeting, the SPS students all met in a lecture hall in the Wehr Physics building. We took this short break to run some fun icebreakers and introduce ourselves. After these brief introductions, we ran mock presentations as photo opportunities for people, while people “presented” we would ask icebreaker questions and get to know everyone. After these brief activities, we made our way to the Alumni Memorial Union in order to attend the dinner and its two speakers. Dr. Cook’s talk about her research with bees was fascinating, I don’t think any of us were expecting to learn about bees and their behaviors at a physics conference. That being said, her research was extremely relevant to physics; it’s truly amazing to see that physics can be seen in quite literally everything around us. After Dr. Cook’s talk, we got to enjoy a nice Tex-Mex buffet. While waiting for the line to subside we got to play a game that one of the visiting professor’s brothers had created. As well, throughout the dinner, we got to continue our conversations and become even closer with everyone there. After the dinner we had one last speaker for the day, Dr. Rosco, he talked about observing the eclipse and how to observe the sun in general, he provided guides for buying solar telescopes and how to get various levels of quality. This talk especially resonated with me because I myself am interested in astronomical instrumentation. After the final talk of the day the SPS students gathered and formed some plans for later in the evening.  The visiting students would head back to their hotels for a few hours to get some homework done but then we would reconvene later in the physics lounge and socialize a little more. We ended up having a very enjoyable night; we bonded over physics experiences, made up our own fun little physics games and overall just had a good time.

Saturday morning was extremely busy but jam-packed with interesting events. From 8:30 until 10:15 there were talks, workshops, and lab tours. Each option was taken advantage of and lab tours provided a sense of pride for the local professors and students as they were able to show off their work and show the side of the process that people often don’t get to see with research. Every talk was extremely well done as well, captivated audiences were present at every talk and all sorts of talks were given. The was a true smorgasbord of topics; some talks focused on the pedagogical side of physics, others on research areas in physics, and even others on various topics including space law! These talks continued after short breaks all the way until 3 pm.  Between and during all of these talks, there were other workshops, one exploring bioluminescent algae as well as frogs and other amphibians raised and owned by Marquette’s Dr. Rick Boyd.  There was another hosted by Dr. Karen Andeen and her post-docs, that focused on creating cloud chambers that would show sub-atomic particles passing through them or being released from a slightly radioactive source inserted in them. This workshop was super fun, it was extremely hands-on and could be a cool demo for visiting schools on outreach trips. The final workshop was on observing what was the upcoming solar eclipse, multiple telescopes were brought to demonstrate it as well as various more accessible tools that could be used to view the eclipse.  The focus of that workshop was safety and to make sure people were also cognisant of the risks and dangers that come with observing the sun. In the middle of this eventful day, there was a lunch break. During this break the professors and teachers went off and “talked business” but the students, former students, and guests gathered in a classroom for a pizza lunch and a round table talking about life after undergrad. We were able to see a wide variety of outcomes from physics degrees, some were pursuing a Ph.D., and others had entered the workforce and gone different paths. It was extremely reassuring to see that we would be pretty set going forward with our lives, we also could see that struggles happen with everyone, we weren’t alone in our struggles, the important part was just to persist. The final major event of the afternoon was the poster session. Those of us presenting gathered in a larger classroom and put up our posters and then stood by them and presented our research for a couple of hours. We got to also walk around and visit other people’s research and learn about what they had done. That part was the most rewarding, it was so amazing to see all of the cool fields that people have had the opportunity to work in and the experiences that they have had. After the poster talks the SPS groups all gathered and bid each other farewell and safe travels to those who drove to the conference. Overall this meeting was such an amazing and beneficial experience, we all learned a lot from it and thoroughly enjoyed it!


SPS Zone 9 Meeting Agenda

Date: November 3-4th, 2023

Location: Marquette University


Friday 11/3

3:00 – 6:00 PM Registration desk open, Todd Wehr Chemistry building lobby.

3:30 – 4:30 PM SPS Keynote Speaker: Dr. Caleb Bonyun, Massachusetts Institute of Technology & physicsisfun_official. Todd Wehr Chemistry, Room 100

4:30 – 5:30 PM SPS Welcome Activities, gather in the Wehr Chem lobby.

5:30 – 6:00 PM Banquet Welcome, Alumni Memorial Dinner, Centennial Room

6:00 – 6:30 PM WAPT Pre-Dinner Speaker, Dr. Chelsea Cook. Marquette University Cook Lab. Alumni Memorial Union, Centennial Room

6:30 – 7:30 PM WAPT Dinner & Awards, Alumni Memorial Union, Centennial room. Tex-Mex buffet (Vegetarian and Gluten Free Options available)

7:30 – 8:30 PM WAPT After-Dinner Speaker, Dr. Dennis Rosco, Carroll University & NASA Solar System Ambassador. Alumni Memorial Union, Centennial Room Saturday 11/4

Saturday 11/4

7:30 – noon Coffee, Registration, & Welcome. William Wehr Physics Building, Room 134

8:00 – noon Posters: available for viewing, William Wehr Physics Building, Room 216.

8:30 – 10:00 AM Talks: Session 1, William Wehr Physics, Room 153

8:30-8:40 Melissa Vigil Welcome & Announcements

8:43-8:53 Nenad Stojilovic Enhancing students’ data plotting skills using research-like activities

8:56-9:06 Caleb Bonyun Communicating Science via Social Media

9:09-9:19 Rick Boyd Amphibian Optics & More: Bridging Physics with Biology

9:22-9:32 Deepshikha Shukla Experiments for including Bio in Physics

9:35-9:45 Sarah Erickson-Bhatt Fighting Cancer at Marquette Physics

9:48-9:58 Jennifer Docktor The Science of Superheroes: A first year seminar course

9:00 – 10:15 AM Workshops: Bite Sized Inquiry, Anna Vandrevalla, William Wehr Physics, Room 223 Engaging Students in Citizen Science through a Connected Telescopes Initiative, Matthew Ryno, Milwaukee Astronomical Society. William Wehr Physics, Room 239

9:00 – 10:15 AM SPS Lab Tours 1

10:00 – 10:15 AM Break: WW 134 & Lobby

10:15 – 11:30 AM Talks: Session 2, William Wehr Physics, Room 153

10:15-10:17 Chris Stockdale Announcements

10:17-10:27 Matt Wiesner RENEW Midwest: from the Underground to the Cosmos

10:30-10:40 Matthias Plum Teaching applied Machine Learning in Physics

10:43-10:53 Amelia Ruffolo Bringing Space Law to Earth: An explanation of Space Law and how it Can Impact Physics Research

10:56-11:06 Zach Simmons Laser Pointers: from hazardous toy to laboratory tool

11:09-11:19 Alan Scott Easily Constructed and Inexpensive Muon Detectors

11:22-11:27 Duncan Carlsmith Simple camera calibration using stars

10:15 – 11:30 AM Workshop: Biofluorescence & Selective Reflection: Bridging Physics & Biology, Rick Boyd, William Wehr Physics, Room 002

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM WAPT Business Meeting & Box Lunch, William Wehr Physics Room 228 or 153

11:30 AM – 12:30 PM SPS Lunch & Alumni Round Table, William Wehr Physics Room 216 If you are not joining us for lunch, a list of nearby restaurants will be available at the Welcome Table (134).

12:45 – 2:00 PM Poster Session Q&A

James R Bowers Solar energetic spectroscopy with ground-based detectors

Alex DeSimone An experimental design for the characterization of fused silica fiber.

Serena Determan Making Antimatter at CERN

Declan Donahue Analysis of customized optical parameters in a laser scanning confocal microscope

Cole Emmanuel Biomechanical analysis of Lacrosse faceoff play

Pierce McCaffrey Understanding the separation distance of common envelope binary stars.

Ozymandias McEvoy Development of MATLAB-based imaging processing methods for laser light confocal microscopes.

Kai Rowlands Very long baseline interferometry (VBLI) syncing the CHIME telescopes at Greenbank and British Colombia

Carlos Romero Dimensionality Reduction for Classification using Higgs Dataset

Melissa Vigil Physics as teaching TRIAGE: problem solving strategies and associated rubrics

Adam Wright Optimizing Galaxy Cluster Mass Measurements for Improved Dark Energy Constraints

12:45 – 2:00 PM Workshop: Solar Observing, Matthew Ryno, Milwaukee Astronomical Society. Participants will have access to and discuss several solar telescope options. Marquette Central Mall (weather permitting) or William Wehr Physics, Room 239

12:45 – 1:45 (WAPT) Workshop: Build your own cloud chamber. Karen Andeen, Larissa Paul, Arun

2:00 – 3:00 (SPS) Vaidyanathan. William Wehr Physics, Room 223.

1:30 – 3:00 PM Refreshments available in Wehr Physics 134

1:45 – 3:00 PM Talks, Session 3, William Wehr Physics, Room 153

1:45-1:50 Melissa Vigil Announcements

1:50-2:00 Jax Sanders Building space for success: The Physics Help Room at Marquette

2:03-2:13 Gary Baier Including the wonder in physics class in addition to learning skills

2:16-2:26 Daniel W. Sinkovits Electric circuit demo with explicit simulation of charge carriers

2:30-2:40 Jim Mallmann Surprising facts about thermal energy transfer through a window

2:43-2:53 Ozgur Yavuzcetin “What is Logarithmically Linear?”

2:56-3:00 Melissa Vigil Closing Statements

List of Chapters Attending

  • Marquette University (Host)
  • University of Wisconsin – River Falls
  • University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
  • Rockford University
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Elmhurst University
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering

Recommendations for Future Meetings

Our recommendations for future meetings would be to get everything organized as early as possible. Speakers, poster sessions, and general scheduling is much better to get out of the way earlier rather than later. Also it helps to reach out to local chapters personally to help advertise the meeting. The more invites you send the more likely people are going to show up.