Welcoming the New President of the Society of Physics Students!

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Welcoming the New President of the Society of Physics Students!


Alina Gearba-Sell, PhD, Incoming President of the Society of Physics Students and Associate Professor, Department of Physics, United States Air Force Academy

United States Air Force Academy

Incoming SPS president Alina Gearba-Sell, PhD, United States Air Force Academy. Photo courtesy of Alina Gearba-Sell.Greetings and thank you for trusting me to become the next president of the Society of Physics Students!

After serving on the SPS National Council as the faculty representative of Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Western Tennessee (Zone 10), I am thrilled to continue serving the society and its diverse student membership. I look forward to working with the associate and zone councilors to reach out to every SPS chapter in the country in support of your activities. I am also eager to work with the SPS National Office and the American Institute of Physics to enhance our current programs, as well as create new programs and initiatives for the benefit of the undergraduate physics community.

I first became acquainted with SPS in 2004 as a new faculty member at the University of Southern Mississippi. Having completed my undergraduate studies in Romania, I was not familiar with SPS, yet there I was, tasked with the SPS faculty advisor position.

The chapter had been dormant for years and I did not know what to do at first, but, fortunately, I was not alone. I had the help of several enthusiastic students—Amanda Palchak, Ty McCleery, Kileigh Peturis, Greg Carson, Xandria McWaters, Kyle Fortenberry, Charles Young, Alyece Willoughby, Kinsey Zarske, and many others—who were just as passionate about making physics an inclusive community as I was. Together, we turned the Southern Miss chapter into one of the most recognized SPS chapters in the nation. The SPS National Office proved to be an unmatched resource in making our chapter successful. It was then, during those years at Southern Miss, that I came to realize how much I missed out on during my undergraduate career in Romania by not having the support of a national student organization. It was then that I made a lifelong commitment to the SPS mission of “helping students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community.”

My academic career took me to the United States Air Force Academy where, once again, I became the SPS faculty advisor. The chapter was extremely active locally, participating in a variety of outreach events in the community, but was not active regionally or nationally. Once again, I relied on students—Jared Wesemann, Anne Werkley, Jeremiah Wells, Daniel Weisz, Scott Alsid, Will Dickinson, and Anita Dunsmore—to take that next step in our chapter’s journey. We started attending zone meetings—we even hosted one! We went to PhysCon in San Francisco last fall, we received research and outreach awards, and we were recognized for a second consecutive year in 2016 as an Outstanding SPS Chapter.

Why am I sharing my story with you? Because I truly believe that SPS can enrich your experience outside the classroom. Networking, leadership skills, opportunities to present scholarly work at professional meetings, research and outreach awards, scholarships, and internships will benefit you for a lifetime. So, if you are a leader in your SPS chapter, please embrace it with all your heart. I know it is not always easy to balance school, work, and service commitments as well as a personal life, but the rewards are tremendous. If you don’t know where to start, look around you for more enthusiastic students. They are everywhere! You will be amazed at how resourceful you can be. Strong chapter leadership is essential for the success of your chapter. The SPS National Office and I will be by your side every step of the way. We realize that SPS chapters are diverse and face unique challenges, but we are committed to address your individual needs and make your chapter really shine.

A new academic year is starting. Check out the SPS National programs, resources, and opportunities, and don’t hesitate to call us if we can make your physics life even more amazing. //


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