A Delegate for US Physics

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ICPS: Much more than just a conference

International Conference of Physics Students

August 12, 2015 to August 19, 2015

Zagreb, Croatia

By:

Ariel Matalon

SPS Chapter:

Group picture on the final day of the conference

The International Conference of Physics Students (ICPS) is the largest annual event organized by the International Association of Physics Students (IAPS). The conference began in 1986 in Budapest, and the 2015 edition was held in Zagreb. I had the great pleasure of attending the conference thanks to the Society of Physics Students Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research.

ICPS 2015 was held between August 12-19, 2015 with August 10-11 as additional delegate days for national and local committee representatives of IAPS. There were roughly 25 delegates in attendance- I represented the USA national committee alongside Amanda Landcastle, the other recipient of the SPS award. At the delegate days, we presented on SPS activities in the USA, and heard about many activities organized elsewhere. Several of the countries hosted different IAPS events and competitions, and some assisted in IAPS trips to Gran Sasso and CERN. A large part of the delegate days was dedicated to workshops on what to prioritize for IAPS’ future goals and how to improve the organization. I was most actively involved in the workshop to redesign the structure of the Executive Committee board that runs the organization.

Following the delegate days, the official conference began. The delegate days acted as a useful adjustment period: for a first ICPS, it was a lot to take in. There were over 300 students in attendance from over 30 countries. There was an immediate energy, a blend of languages, and greetings of familiar faces from previous meetings. The energy and excitement continued throughout the opening ceremony with remarks by the organizing committee and presidents of IAPS and the European Physical Society. There was a brief city tour following the opening ceremony.

Almost every day of the conference included guest lectures by distinguished speakers, student research presentations, and fun activities. I was most interested by Professor Daniel Denegri’s presentation on CMS and particle physics research at large. I was particularly impressed at the level of research of the numerous students who presented their work. It was nice to see how active students were at such a young age, and I spent many mornings in the conference discussing research methods and asking questions on fields I wasn’t familiar with. I was also fortunate to get to see several astrophysics facilities in the lab visits segment of the conference.

I presented my research on the morning of August 16. My work is on the development of a prototype fluorescence detector for ultra high-energy cosmic rays. It was very fulfilling to see that others were intrigued by the material. Later that day the Annual General Meeting of IAPS took place, in which all the proposed changes outlined in the delegate days were voted upon. 

ICPS is much more than a conference- it’s about the people you meet and friendships you make. Every evening there was time for celebration, but the physics never ended. I had many great conversations with colleagues, especially with the president of the newly formed Italian national committee. I also got to visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park on my conference excursion, and continued my travels in Croatia after the conference as well. It was an absolute honor to attend ICPS 2015, and I thank SPS for its support. I’ve included a few of my favorite conference pictures below. 

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