Week 1: Nobel Laureates, Astronauts, and More: My First Week as an SPS Intern

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Monday, June 3, 2013


Alexandra Day

What a great first week!  Our first event was a picnic on Sunday at the house of the Director of SPS, Toni Sauncy, which was incredible.  It was great to meet everyone in person and share our goals for our summer together in DC, and the food was amazing!  Our common interest in physics and SPS made it easy to find things to talk about, and everyone had such positive energy.  It was a great introduction to the program and left me really excited and inspired for the rest of the summer.  Special thanks to Toni for such a great event and for going out of her way to make sure we all had a good time!

On Monday, we met for an orientation event at the American Center for Physics in College Park.  I had never been to ACP before, and I loved seeing a building dedicated to physics (I also love that the address is “One Physics Ellipse” – it doesn’t get much better than that!).  We were treated to breakfast and were introduced to representatives from many of the organizations that are headquartered in ACP.  I loved learning about all of the physics resources available to the general public, especially this cool webpage about one of my personal heroes, Marie Curie: http://www.aip.org/history/curie/.  If that weren’t neat enough, I was absolutely floored when I realized the interns would be having lunch with Dr. John Mather, a Nobel Laureate and another of my role models.  It was great to see him and to hear his insight about physics and physics education.  He’s incredibly intelligent and humble, and I was thrilled to be able to have lunch with him.

On Monday afternoon, Toni graciously escorted Caleb, Nicole, and me to NIST for the afternoon.  I got to meet my mentor, toured some great NIST lab facilities, and met some of the people I’d be working with.  It was my first time on the NIST campus and it was really exciting to see it after looking forward to seeing it for so long.

I spent the rest of the week at NIST, meeting the people I’ll be working with, touring more lab facilities, and starting my project.  On Tuesday night, I traveled into DC for a special Wellesley College event featuring Pamela Melroy, one of our most distinguished alumni and one of only two women to command the Space Shuttle.  She gave a phenomenal speech, and it was a special moment for me since I’ve been hoping to meet her for years.  Being near DC is the best!

On Thursday, I went to the Einstein Fellows Poster Session on Capitol Hill with the other SPS interns.  After the poster session, Toni arranged for and treated us to dinner at Union Station, which was a great way to relax after a long day and share our experiences with the other interns.  Thanks again, Toni!  It was a really inspiring, entertaining, and fun first week.  It’s going to be a great summer!

Alexandra Day