Zone 18 Meeting

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In The Zone - Regional SPS Highlights

Zone 18 Meeting

Students Gather at UC Merced


Jacob Parker, SPS Member

University of California-Merced

The UC Merced SPS chapter. Photo by Leo Alonso Cabrera

The spring 2017 Zone 18 Meeting was held at the University of California, Merced and was attended by students from several surrounding schools. Over the two days of the meeting, the students listened to inspiring talks, toured physics research labs, made new friends, and had loads of fun.

The meeting kicked off with a lunch where the visiting undergraduate students socialized and talked about their physics experiences and interests with UC Merced students and physics professors. After getting to know each other, the students headed to a talk by Dr. Tom Ramos titled “A History of LLNL Weapons Programs.” The talk gave an informative and personal perspective on how Lawrence Livermore National Labs (LLNL) significantly influenced the development of early atomic weapons in the United States and the impacts of these developments on World War II and the Cold War. Furthermore, Dr. Ramos inspired students to pursue higher degrees and participate in research at national labs.

Following the talk, students toured either Michael Scheibner’s physics research lab, which focuses on quantum dot systems, or Raymond Chiao's lab at Castle Air Force Base, which focuses on gravitational wave detection. The tours included exciting discussions on current projects in the labs, what life in a lab is like, and the state of the experimental setups. Once the lab tours concluded, the day ended with a get-together at a local SPS member’s house for pizza and a movie!

The second day of the meeting launched with a breakfast, a tour of the UC Merced science and engineering buildings, and an impromptu walkthrough of Jennifer Lu’s nanomaterials research lab. Following the brief tours, the students gathered for another talk, this time by Dr. Roland Winston. Dr. Winston discussed his current research on solar heat production and encouraged students to be collaborative as they do research.

Next, a panel of eight physics graduate students from UC Merced answered questions about grad school. They also gave personal insight on their own paths to graduate school.

The meeting came to a close on a fun and interactive note by playing Physics Jeopardy. The students split up into three teams and competed to conquer diverse categories such as quantum mechanics, classical mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics, and a “random” category, which threw in interesting and refreshing questions. The game tested teams’ knowledge of physics and was an exceptional way to conclude the meeting.

We had a great time hosting the SPS Zone 18 Meeting—it was a great way to meet many fellow Zone 18 members and a fantastic way to make new friends!

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