Outstanding Advisor

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Stars - SPS Awards and Accolades

Outstanding Advisor

Meet the 2012 SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor

Ajay Narayanan teaches physics and astronomy at Green River Community College. Photo by Angela Winner.

The 2012 SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award goes to Ajay Narayanan from Green River Community College in Auburn, WA. This is the highest recognition given by SPS to chapter advisors. It celebrates an individual who has made exceptional contributions toward promoting student leadership, developing a broad spectrum of activities, and inspiring enthusiastic student participation.


Says Narayanan:

It has been my great pleasure to serve as the SPS chapter advisor at Green River Community College (GRCC) in Washington state. When we restarted the dormant chapter in 2003, four students signed up as members. Since then our membership has grown steadily. Our chapter, known as the Physics Club, has raised its profile on campus and was selected Club of the Year by the college in 2012.

Our wonderful students have set up numerous outreach events for the campus community and local elementary schools. GRCC students have secured three Marsh W. White Outreach Awards, won a couple of SPS Leadership Scholarships as well as an internship, and served on the SPS National Council as associate zone councilors. I am incredibly proud of all the students have done.

We chucked head-sized pumpkins a distance of 350 feet, imploded large steel drums, shot liquid nitrogen bazookas that spray columns of water three or four floors high, and participated in other mayhem that would appeal to most SPS members. The most rewarding part of our efforts has been the letters we get from the grade school students and teachers who have participated in our events.

F For one of our fund-raising events our chapter president dressed up in a deviled egg costume and rode a bike under an overpass while students, staff, and faculty pelted him with eggs. By charging one dollar an egg we raised over a hundred dollars. The cleanup was not fun, but the event was a success!

Being part of SPS provides our students with opportunities to make science-related activities the focal point of their interactions with other students and faculty members. I believe this type of support keeps students interested in physics in ways that classroom activities cannot achieve. Being a chapter at a two-year college has its challenges, including limited funding, but over the years we have found solutions to many of these problems. What makes this possible is the tremendous support, encouragement, and participation we receive from all our faculty members and staff.

After receiving his PhD in physics from the University of Arizona in 1997, Narayanan turned his attention to full-time teaching. He served for one year as an adjunct instructor at the University of Arizona, then joined GRCC’s Physics and Astronomy Department in 2000.
Narayanan has been involved with SPS since his graduate school days. Green River Community College’s chapter advisor since 2003, he also served two terms as zone councilor on the SPS National Council. //

Further Reading

For more information about this award and how to nominate your advisor, visit www.spsnational.org/programs/awards/advisor.htm.

The SPS Observer (ISSN 2160-1305) is the magazine of the Society of Physics Students. Published quarterly by the American Institute of Physics. Printed in the USA. Standard postage paid at Columbus, OH. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The SPS Observer, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3841.

The American Institute of Physics is an organization of 10 physical science societies, representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators. Through its Physics Resources Center, AIP delivers valuable services and expertise in education and student programs, science communications, government relations, career services for science and engineering professionals, statistical research in physics employment and education, industrial outreach, and the history of physics and allied fields. AIP publishes Physics Today, the most influential and closely followed magazine of the physics community, and is also home to Society of Physics Students and the Niels Bohr Library and Archives. AIP owns AIP Publishing LLC, a scholarly publisher in the physical and related sciences. www.aip.org

AIP Member Societies: American Association of Physicists in Medicine, American Association of Physics Teachers, American Astronomical Society, American Crystallographic Association, American Geophysical Union, The American Physical Society, Acoustical Society of America, AVS–The Science & Technology Society, OSA–The Optical Society, The Society of Rheology

Other Member Organizations: Sigma Pi Sigma, Physics Honor Society, Society of Physics Students, Corporate Associates

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