Zone 3 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

March 23, 2018 to March 24, 2018

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Roberto C. Ramos

SPS Chapter:

The annual meeting of Zone 3 of the Society of Physics Students was held on March 23-24, 2018 on the campus of the University of the Sciences (USciences) in Philadelphia. The meeting was hosted primarily by the USciences SPS Chapter which was responsible for planning, logistics including expenses for the meeting, programming, information-dissemination and execution of the meeting, and co-hosted by Rutgers (New Brunswick) SPS whose members helped in the planning, information-dissemination for the meeting, and implementation. The following comprised the participants of the Zone 3 Meeting.

The SPS Zone 3 meeting at the campus of the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia was attended by students from six university SPS chapters. It was hosted by USciences SPS and co-hosted by Rutgers SPS (New Brunswick).

Pre-Zone Meeting Planning. Zone 3 Councilor Dr. Roberto Ramos and Asso. Zone 3 Hannah Buckner had reached out in the Fall Semester through early Winter Term to several university chapters to determine interest in hosting/co-hosting the 2018 Zone 3 Meeting. Dr. Ramos reached out to several chapters including Rutgers (New Brunswick) SPS – which had expressed in their last Annual Report the desire to reach out beyond their campus. In the end, it was decided that the USciences chapter was ready to be host of the Zone meeting in Philadelphia while Rutgers SPS (New Brunswick) expressed willingness to co-host the zone meeting and observe how it can be organized. Several Skype meetings were conducted to facilitate the planning, including information dissemination, between the two chapter groups which were led by Alyssa Petroski (USciences SPS President) and William Cheng (Rutgers SPS President). A zone meeting website developed by USciences SPS VP Despina Nakos was set up at with a custom meeting background designed by SPS SGA Rep Mia Vega, where participants signed up and program and registration information were disseminated. Members from both chapters contacted chapters assigned to them, based on proximity, to invite participation. Dr. Ramos also emailed and called over 30 chapters as well. The meeting was announced on the SPS Zone 3 Facebook Page: Each participating undergraduate student paid a registration fee of $5.00 which was collected during the onsite registration. It was also decided later to allocate $150 in the form of 3 $50 mini-travel grants to chapters who would have traveled significant distances to come to the zone meeting (Unfortunately, no chapter took advantage of this incentive.). Also present at the meeting were Seton Hall SPS Advisor Dr. Jose Lopez and USciences Physics Chair Dr. Elia Eschenazi.

March 23, 2018. On the evening of Friday, March 23, 2018, zone participants who were able to come on Friday were treated to a Formal Welcome, Group Dynamics/Ice Breaker activities where members of different chapters were asked to form groups with other chapters while doing an “Engineering Physics Challenge” of forming structures with balloons and an SPS “Speed Dating Game”, and a talk given by USciences SPS describing their outreach activities over the years with suggestions on how to go about promoting outreach as a way of sustaining SPS chapter health. Refreshments and a light dinner were also served before participants left for the night. These events were held in the Science & Technology Center of the USciences campus, from 7 pm – 9 pm.

March 24, 2018. The second day was packed with many activities and began at 10 am at the 3rd Floor of the IPEX Building where participants were treated to the newest building on-campus that featured multiple projector screens lining the walls of the wide meeting space . After the formal Welcome ceremonies, two students gave two Oral Research Presentations followed by a lively Q&A section. Dr. James Keller, Director of the Thomas Jefferson’s Medical Physics Program, gave an inspiring Keynote Speech entitled “You can do anything!” and also described his career exploration and direction that led him to the area of medical physics. Lunch was followed by a Physics Career Toolbox Workshop led by SPS Director Brad Conrad who got students to use the “Physics Career Toolbox” document developed by SPS’s National Office to reflect on their skills and how they can package these into compelling resumes. Students were also introduced to the practice of giving “elevator talks” and to realize this, they were paired up to give elevator talks to each other.

The “Hidden Physicist” series of two career talks were then given by two women physicists – Kirtley Karpodinis - a BS Physics graduate of Rutgers U and Process Specialist from Puratos Corporation – a Belgian multinational food corporation headquartered locally; Melissa Lamberto – a BS Physics graduate of USciences and Medical Physicist at Pinnacle Cancer Health Center. Both gave inspiring stories of how they’ve harnessed their undergraduate physics training to succeed in industrial and medical physics. This was followed by the “Roadmap to Graduate School in Physics” Seminars given by two physics Ph.D. students: condensed matter experimentalist Sarah Fridensen (University of Pennsylvania) and theoretical physicist Iyer Kartheik. Both speakers described the nuts and bolts process of deciding to pursue graduate school and the ensuring challenges typically faced. Both series of seminars were received positively with lively Q&A’s.

The final session was the Research Poster Session which involved at least 6 student research posters from several institutions and a Pizza Dinner which capped the event. In addition, there was a large Zone 3 Outreach Poster put together by Dr. Ramos that featured pictures from outreach activities of many SPS chapters belonging to Zone 3. A few days later, a musical slide-show video featuring photos and videos from the different Zone 3 events was circulated to all Zone 3 chapter officers and advisors google-group emails and also on the Zone 3 Facebook page. The link of the 2018 Zone 3 Video Summary can be found at

Career Resources:

Clockwise: On Day 1 of the Zone 3 Meeting, USciences SPS officers talked about engaging the public with different types of physics outreach. This was followed by group dynamics that inspired teamwork between members of different chapters. USciences SPS chapter members pose with their version of “Physics Photo Booth”.

The SPS Zone 3 Meeting was hosted at USciences’ state-of-the-art IPEX meeting rooms, with participants surrounded by LCD projection screens lining the walls. Above: SPS Director Brad Conrad leads the Physics Career Toolbox Workshop.

SPS Zone 3 participants engage each other with their own physics elevator talks.

Top: Hidden Physicist Career Seminar given by Kirtley Karpodinis – Process Specialist and “Foodie Physicist”at Puratos Corporation and BS Physics graduate from Rutgers University. USciences BS Physics graduate Melissa Lamberto, a medical physicist from Pinnacle Cancer Health Center, also gave the talk jointly.

Left: Kirtley Karpodinis – a BS Physics graduate of Rutgers U, works as a Process Specialist at Puratos Corporation, a Belgian multinational food company with local R&D presence, describes herself as a “Foodie Physicist” and describes how she applies physics regularly in the lab and plant. Right: One of two research talks given at the Zone meeting.

SPS Zone 3 Meeting Keynote Speaker and Director of Thomas Jefferson Hospital’s Medical Physics Program Dr. James Keller poses with Zone 3 SPS members.

UPenn physics graduate student Sarah Friedensen describes the application process for physics graduate school, including tips and reflections to determine if graduate school is good for you.

A Poster Session with 6 research posters and 1 Zone 3 Outreach Poster featuring outreach pictures from various SPS Zone 3 chapters was held at the end of the second day.