The Texas A&M University chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has been recognized by the association’s national office as a 2019-2020 SPS Outstanding Chapter.
Texas A&M’s SPS chapter, housed within the Department of Physics and Astronomy and advised by Associate Department Head for Undergraduate Programs Alexey Belyanin, was recognized for the first time in its history for its excellence as a top-tier student-led physical sciences organization among the hundreds of chapters located at colleges and universities across the United States and internationally.
“This is the highest level of distinction given to our chapters and is received by less than 15 percent of our top chapters annually, with just 96 of 844 chapters so honored this year,” said Brad R. Conrad, director of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma.
As a professional association designed for students, SPS membership is open to anyone interested in physics and related fields. SPS operates within the American Institute of Physics, an umbrella organization for professional physical science societies.
Each year, SPS chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public and with SPS national programs. The Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes high levels of outreach as well as unique approaches to fulfilling the mission of SPS to “help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community.”
Texas A&M’s SPS chapter is an officially recognized student organization that seeks to provide opportunities for physics majors and enthusiasts to gather and share ideas, have fun, and organize local outreach and volunteer events that demonstrate science. Members are highly active within the department, participating in the DEEP (Discover, Explore and Enjoy Physics and Engineering) Program, the annual Texas A&M Physics and Engineering Festival, Just Add Science, Game Day Physics and the Real Physics Live educational video series, along with other community-oriented activities and experiential learning programs.
“We have a very active chapter, with weekly meetings, guest lecturers, career panels, a social program and, of course, numerous outreach activities,” Belyanin said. “Perhaps even more importantly, the SPS plays a crucial role in creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere for undergraduate students in the department and helps them connect with their peers, graduate students and faculty. Senior SPS members even teach a freshman seminar.
“The chapter is run entirely by students. The SPS president during the award-winning 2019-2020 year was Jessica Myron ’20, who is now a graduate student in astronomy at Montana State. The current 2020-2021 president, Julia Tiller ’21, manages to run a very active program despite COVID restrictions.”
“I am very proud of the work our students have done to elevate the Texas A&M SPS chapter to the outstanding level,” said Grigory Rogachev, professor and head of Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy. “Indeed, the chapter has become a centerpiece for creating a supportive and welcoming environment for physics and astronomy majors. I would also like to use this opportunity to thank the Texas A&M SPS leadership team and faculty advisor Professor Alexey Belyanin for all the work they have put in and the tremendous success demonstrated by the chapter under their leadership. Congratulations to all members of the Texas A&M SPS chapter!”