Tips for Hosting a Zone Meeting

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In The Zone - Regional SPS Highlights

Tips for Hosting a Zone Meeting


Nickalaus Clemmer, SPS Member & AZC Zone 14, Colorado Mesa University

Nickalaus Clemmer. Photo courtesy of the author. Zone meetings are an exciting opportunity for you to attend a regional, physics-inspired gathering for all the chapters in your zone to meet the other SPS members in your zone and to learn from other chapters. At the meetings you also have an opportunity to present your research, view other research, explore campus labs, and develop professional relationships at one of the best networking opportunities for physics undergraduates. There are numerous benefits in attending a zone meeting, and all SPS members should make it a point to attend them as frequently as possible.

One way to make sure you can attend a zone meeting is to host it at your university. Hosting at your university has all the advantages of going to a zone meeting but adds the additional benefits of not having to travel, the opportunity to show off your university, and the opportunity to participate in a significant way within your zone.

You may be wondering what you will need to do to prepare for such an event. Fortunately, there is a list of simple steps that will help guide you through the process of hosting your zone meeting, making it as fun and stress free as possible.

First and foremost: Contact your zone councilor or associate zone councilor.

Getting in contact with your National Council representative is definitely the first step when you are planning a zone meeting. Your AZC and ZC will have the resources and information to help you plan and organize your event and will be able to advise you if there are any other chapters in your zone that have already requested to host the meeting in the year in which you are interested. Some zones will host two meetings a year, meaning that you have twice the opportunity to schedule a meeting. You can find contact information for your ZC and AZC on the SPS National website,

Once you have secured your spot for the zone meeting: Set a date.

Having a set date for the zone meeting as quickly as possible is important so that everyone in your zone can start planning their schedule around that date. Make sure that you host your meeting at a time that is convenient for your university, professors, and classmates (as well as the other chapters in your zone) so that you can get as much help organizing and setting up the meeting as possible. Generally, having other schools arrive on Friday and having the bulk of the meeting on Saturday works best. Once you have your date established, contact SPS National to have your zone meeting date saved and published. Your AZC and ZC are great resources here.

Next: Contact the chapter leadership in your zone.

Zone meetings are about bringing together all of the chapters in your zone, and you need to make sure that each of the chapters in your zone are invited to the meeting. Doing this step as soon as possible provides the chapter leadership in your zone ample time to make preparations to attend. A “save the date” email is recommended as a first point of contact. You can follow up with additional information about the itinerary and logistics (such as lodging and food) later.

Then: Make a schedule.

Having a tentative schedule in the works from day 1 will aid you in planning. Once an agenda is in place, send it to the other chapters so that they, too, can prepare. Activities on the schedule are up to the individual chapter and university, although there are some suggested items that you should consider as part of a standard meeting.

Take a look at the list below of suggested events and activities for your zone meeting:

Most zone meetings should provide an opportunity for undergraduate research poster/paper sessions. One of the best aspects of a zone meeting is having the opportunity to show your research to a group of peers. Therefore, there should be some time allotted to a student research session.

Some form of campus or lab tour is also recommended. Many of the people that are coming to your meeting will be unfamiliar with your specific university, and this will be a great opportunity to show them what your school has to offer. Having professors present research and labs is an exciting way to introduce SPS members in your zone to the research taking place at your school.

Schedule a seminar. Whether you invite an outside speaker or one of your faculty members wants to present, planning a time for people to learn something new is an important and exciting part of the zone meeting.

Several items in the schedule will require funding, so the next step is: Request funding from SPS National.

SPS National is a significant resource when hosting your zone meeting and will also aid you in funding the meeting. You will have the opportunity to apply for funding to help you pay for expenses that your chapter may not be able to otherwise afford. To learn more about funding your zone meeting, visit the SPS National website,

Another important step: Recruit help from other members in your chapter.

Hosting a zone meeting is not an easy task, and asking for help from your peers and department will be necessary. Make a list of items that need to be completed so you can easily delegate tasks. Make sure that there are set times for goals to be completed and that all participants have a calendar of these dates.

The final step: Have the zone meeting!

This is the fun part. All the hard work and preparation that you have done will finally come to fruition when you are able to have everyone together to enjoy a fun and exciting day of physics and camaraderie. You will still need to keep things organized and on schedule, but do not forget that you are there to enjoy this event as well.

 Zone 14 SPS members pose with Dr. Eric Cornell (pictured second from the right, front row) after his seminar in March 2017. Photo courtesy of Colorado Mesa University SPS Chapter.

Go to the SPS National website for more information about hosting zone meetings.

This guide is a brief introduction to what you should do when preparing for a zone meeting, but there are plenty of things that will be unique to your specific meeting. For a more complete list of things to do before hosting a zone meeting, go to the SPS National website to view the hosting a zone meeting checklist. If you still have unanswered questions, contact your AZC or ZC for more information. 

Good luck! //

To learn more about SPS regional zones and their meetings, visit

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