Creative Tools for Connecting and Supporting SPS Members

Share This:



SPS Chapters on Building Community

Creative Tools for Connecting and Supporting SPS Members


Robert Chambers, SPS Chapter Public Relations Officer, Texas Tech University

The Texas Tech SPS chapter on a trip to Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. Photo by Alexandria Clark.We call it the Quark. Each edition of our monthly, student-run newsletter contains at least four articles. Two of them focus on science conducted in the world at large—recent discoveries, short reviews of interesting phenomena, op-eds, and the occasional lighthearted article. The other articles are interviews of professors and students in our physics department at Texas Tech.

Professor interviews highlight the scope of research our department conducts and help students connect with researchers in their intended concentration. Student interviews highlight the diversity of backgrounds in our department, demonstrate the research our undergraduates can conduct, and show newer students that it is entirely possible to study physics and have fun with it.

The Quark is also a form of advertising for chapter, departmental, and community events. Once we send it out to the department and the chapter, it is uploaded to the departmental web page and chapter website for anyone to read.

The Texas Tech Society of Physics Students chapter has used this unique method to share information since 2017. The Quark is run by a small committee under the purview of our SPS public relations (PR) officer. This committee handles the chapter’s public relations with the Texas Tech community, as well as our local community of Lubbock, Texas. Responsibilities include planning and executing outreach programs at local schools, organizing students to help with social events for the chapter and department, and, of course, producing and distributing the Quark.

The idea for the Quark came from SPS member Sadman Ahmed Shanto. During his time as PR officer, he wanted to increase the chapter’s outreach to the Department of Physics and Astronomy. After some brainstorming, he came up with a novel idea: a monthly newsletter that would not only give the department faculty and students news about upcoming events but would also give members of the PR committee a chance to practice scientific writing and boost their resumes. Anyone can write for the Quark, and in the years since its inception we’ve had students who were initially interested in the writing experience later become fully active members of the chapter.

Our chapter had another idea in 2017: help graduating seniors pay for graduate school applications and admissions exams, fees that add up quickly. The chapter’s fundraising committee, headed by the treasurer, already planned events that raised money for chapter events and trips. The chapter leaders decided it was worthwhile to plan a few more fundraisers in order to subsidize the cost of GREs and application fees and reduce the financial stress on its members.

In practice, soon-to-be-graduating members would inform the chapter officers of their fees, and sums would be given directly to them based upon need. The plan has taken some time to develop and is not yet fully implemented, due to some changes in funding structure and the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has halted all chapter fundraising efforts for now. However, the chapter treasurer is using this time to come up with fundraising events for future officers to utilize.

These committee efforts may be unusual among SPS chapters; however, we are dedicated to keeping our members engaged, up to date, and well equipped for a future in physics. The Quark and financial assistance program we’ve developed enable us to do just that.

Check out the Quark at

More from this department

SPS Chapters on Building Community