Get Involved in the International Association of Physics Students

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Get Involved in the International Association of Physics Students

Broaden your physics community and meet students overseas


Amanda Landcastle, Graduate student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN

Purdue-West Lafayette University

Stephen Hawking on stage at the IAPS-hosted PLANCKS competition in 2014. Photo courtesy of Amanda Landcastle.

In 2014 Stephen Hawking gave a lecture to a room full of physics students just like you. Audience members got the chance to learn from one of the most well-respected physicists in the world.
If you had this opportunity, would you take advantage of it?

Well, just a little tidbit of information for all of you readers saying, “Of course I would, it’s Stephen Hawking!” … You did have the opportunity to attend this event.

The good news is that you will still have plenty of opportunities to be involved in events like the one mentioned, events sponsored by the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS). And now you have someone to keep you informed about how to go about doing so. That someone would be me.

Did you know that you are already a member of IAPS? It's true. SPS has been on the US National Committee for IAPS for several years. This means that every SPS member is also an IAPS member.

My introduction to IAPS started with an SPS Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research I received in the spring of 2015. Being involved in SPS has opened so many doors for me, and receiving this award just before I was about to graduate and leave the “SPS bubble” provided me with an opportunity unlike any I have had before. Because I received this award, in August 2015, SPS flew me to Zagreb, Croatia, to present my research at the International Conference for Physics Students (ICPS), hosted by IAPS.

SPS invited me to arrive in Croatia a couple of days before ICPS began to participate in Delegate Days on its behalf. The ICPS Delegate Days are when student leaders in physics from each country meet to discuss IAPS regulations and activities. While I was listening to the discussions, I realized how irrelevant to the discussion I was as a US student. I was inspired to change that.

IAPS was established in Europe and has flourished there. They offer events galore for European students. But non-European involvement is essentially nonexistent in comparison. At the beginning of the meeting, when they asked for the US National Committee’s input, I gave them blank stares in response. I had no idea what they were talking about. But as the discussions continued, I decided that I wanted to make what they were talking about relevant to me and to SPS.

I ran for a position on the IAPS Executive Committee and was elected at the Annual General Meeting during ICPS. I am now serving as the vice president and the general officer responsible for outreach and education. The rest of IAPS recognizes the need to involve non-European countries, and they have entrusted me with getting that task started here in the US.

IAPS was established in 1987 with the intention to promote peaceful collaboration among its members all over the globe. We support our members in their academic and professional work while providing an atmosphere that promotes intercultural networking and enables individual physics organizations from all over the world to get together for great impact. We are an association run entirely by physics students and for physics students. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

ICPS 2016 will take place in Malta in the summer of 2016. SPS members are encouraged to attend. To help with the financial strain of travel costs, look into applying for the ICPS Worldwide Grant and the SPS Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research. You can also talk to your department and research advisor about travel support. Hopefully, if we can build more US and Canadian involvement in IAPS, we will be able to start talking about hosting ICPS in the United States within the next few years.

The event at which Hawking spoke took place in Utrecht, the Netherlands, as part of the opening ceremony and symposium for an international physics contest sponsored by IAPS called PLANCKS, in which teams tackle difficult physics exercises. PLANCKS 2016 will be held in Romania in May 2016. There are several other events planned for the coming year, such as trips to CERN and Gran Sasso. You can find information about them on our website:

One of my goals is to help SPS members further develop as physicists and as leaders through involvement with IAPS. My vision is that within the next year SPS members will start getting involved with IAPS both internationally and in the United States. It is my job to help facilitate this, and I have a lot of plans for my position, including an IAPS event held by SPS members in the United States.

Please contact SPS if you have any questions regarding IAPS or if you want to get involved. You can find more information on the IAPS website or on the IAPS Facebook page. //

More Information

For more information on IAPS and ICPS:

For more information on the SPS Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research,

visit the SPS website at Winners are chosen on the basis of their research, letters of recommendation, and SPS participation. Winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to ICPS 2016, along with a $500 honorarium for themselves and a $500 honorarium for their SPS chapter. Applications are due March 15.

To read more about Amanda and her experience at ICPS 2015, along with the experience of Ariel Matalon, who also received a 2015 SPS Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research,

visit the SPS website at To connect with Amanda, email SPS at sps-programs [at]

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