Hosting a Conference Brought Our Chapter Together

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SPS Chapters on Professional Development

Hosting a Conference Brought Our Chapter Together


Alexandria Watrous, SPS Chapter Vice President, University of Mississippi


Undergraduates gather for Physics Jeopardy! during SESAPS. Photo courtesy of the University of Mississippi SPS chapter.

Our school, the University of Mississippi, hosted the Fall 2022 Meeting of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (SESAPS). The American Physical Society is a professional organization for physicists, and SESAPS includes the APS members in that region of the United States. SEASAPS meetings include plenary talks, research presentations, and networking opportunities, and undergraduates are especially encouraged to attend. Our SPS chapter provided a lot of the hands-on meeting support that made the 2022 Fall Meeting a success!

This was the first SESAPS meeting in Mississippi in 22 years and the largest scientific meeting ever hosted at the University of Mississippi. We had more than 325 attendees—200 of which were students—and nearly 250 presentations (talks and posters)! 


SPS members help SEASAPS attendees check in and find their way around the meeting. Photo by Cecille Labuda.

Our SPS chapter played a major role in meeting preparations. One SPS member engaged in the planning meetings that determined where to have the poster session, transportation logistics, the conference website, and the program of events. Another SPS member organized an oral presentation session. Our SPS chapter made packets inviting physics departments in the region to attend SESAPS. SPS students, as well as other student volunteers, put together welcome bags for conference participants. 

Helping to prepare for the conference was a great way for us to advertise the meeting on campus and encourage fellow undergraduate physics students to attend. Our physics department even covered the registration fee for University of Mississippi undergraduate students. 


SEASAPS attendees prepare for a session. Photo by Cecille Labuda.

During the conference, SPS members worked hard to ensure everything ran smoothly. We worked registration shifts and AV, staffed the help desk, and even walked attendees around campus. We hosted an SPS event where undergraduate attendees could visit our physics department, compete in Physics Jeopardy!, and play card and board games. We also invited University of Mississippi graduate students so that undergraduate attendees could ask them about physics graduate school. 

SESAPS was an excellent way to see how conferences work behind the scenes and volunteer in a professional setting. Our SPS chapter enjoyed working and attending together, and the activities helped bring our members closer.

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