A Letter from the Director

Letter from the Director

A Letter from the Director

Brad R. Conrad, PhD, 
Director, Society of Physics Students & Sigma Pi Sigma

“The mere formulation of a problem is often far more essential than its solution, which may be merely a matter of mathematical or experimental skill. To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science.” —A. Einstein

The Society of Physics Students, which is supported by the American Institute of Physics (AIP), is proud to announce the relaunch of the Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics (JURP). JURP is a familiar acronym to many SPS advisors, as it previously stood for the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics. The original incarnation of JURP was launched in 1981 out of Guilford College as a publication dedicated to the research pursuits of undergraduates. JURP’s founder, Dr. Rexford Adelberger, described its origins in Volume 10:

The research projects that most undergraduate students can complete during their brief stay at college seldom met the rigorous requirements of [professional journals]. This does not mean that the work lacked new physics and clever insights, it was just not of the scope expected of people whose profession is to do research in physics. Yet, we were convinced that the learning and rewards that come from writing up the research in a professional manner and learning to communicate using the professional media had a definite place in the undergraduate program of study in physics.

Undergraduate research and scholarship are the bedrock of physics and astronomy education and indispensable tools for deep learning. As Einstein alluded to in his statement above, physics is not necessarily about a solution or a final value but the process of exploring the problem itself. And, as was explained to me as a student, research that is not shared, effectively did not happen, as it is not part of the shared community’s knowledge. No scientist is an island, and we must learn from each other to make progress. As such, JURP seeks to communicate the many facets of the educational experience to all undergraduates and advisors.

Moving forward, JURP will be a focal point for professional communication within the undergraduate program of study in physics and astronomy. To encompass the many facets of our community, JURP has been expanded from its original scope to more broadly include scholarly works. Scholarly works take many forms, including but not limited to research, outreach, scientific writing and reporting, and advocacy. JURP will remain a publication dedicated to research by publishing peer-reviewed research reports written by undergraduate students that aim to contribute to the field. However, JURP will now also include selected undergraduate student works that reflect the breadth and depth of the undergraduate and professional experience. We have changed the journal’s name from Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics to Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics, as we hope every student can find scholarly works that reflect them and further their educational experience.

It is also important to note that, moving forward, JURP will replace the summer issue of The SPS Observer. While The SPS Observer remains a focal point for our community, this change will also provide an opportunity for many more research and community-building articles and ideas to make it into the hands of all SPS members and further the mission of AIP.

Please keep JURP in mind as the school year starts, as we hope that you consider contributing a piece to next summer’s issue. Learn more about the JURP submission process at http://www.spsnational.org/jurp and look for The SPS Observer in the fall.

JURP is no small effort and takes a team of writers, reviewers, and editors to realize. The SPS National Staff would like to extend a special word of appreciation to Dr. Will Slaton of the University of Central Arkansas for his steadfast commitment to the journal and willingness to review and provide meaningful feedback on all the research articles. SPS would also like to thank former SPS directors Gary White of George Washington University and Toni Sauncy of Texas Lutheran University for providing valuable support and feedback. While Dr. Adelberger passed away in 2018, we sincerely hope that this publication honors his vision and inspires future generations of students to pursue the areas of physics that they are passionate about.

Physics is an experimental science. Communicating that science is an integral component of scientific inquiry and a linchpin of the discipline. It is our hope you both enjoy this issue and are able to learn from your colleagues.