SPS Zone 7 Meeting

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SPS Zone Meeting

May 6, 2023

Detroit, MI

Meeting host:

Society of Physics Students


Jacob Callebs

SPS Chapter:

Spring 2023 SPS Zone 7 Meeting Report

On May 6th, 2023, Wayne State University hosted the Spring 2023 Meeting of the Society of Physics Students Zone 7. The meeting was locally hosted by the Wayne State University Chapter #7884 in coordination with the Associate Zone Councilor Rebecca Abbott-McCune and Zone Councilor Ronald Kumon. All events were held on the campus of Wayne State University. At least 6 undergraduate students and alumni and 5 faculty members attended the meeting from a total of 4 chapters from across the zone.

Meeting Agenda

The agenda of the events specific to or co-sponsored by SPS Zone 7 included:

12:00 pm-1:00 pm:  Arrival and Sign-In

1:00 pm -1:15: Opening Remarks by Jacob Callebs, WSU SPS President

1:15 pm-1:30 pm: Introductions by Attendees

1:30 pm-2:00 pm: SPS National Updates (hybrid)

Associate Zone Council Rebecca Abbott-McCune and Zone Councilor Ronald Kumon provided an overview of activities and programs offered by the SPS National Council.   [Slides]

2:00-3:00 pm: Chapter Activity Discussion (hybrid)

Members discussed chapter activities during the past year as well as tactics for  student engagement.  The goal was to gain some ideas that students could take back to try in their chapters. In addition, they discussed strategies for writing an award-winning chapter report. [Slides]

3:00-3:45 pm: "The Path to Graduate School" (hybrid)

Zone Councilor Ronald Kumon provided an overview of how and why to apply to graduate school, including preparing for graduate studies, finding information about graduate programs, applying to programs, narrowing your choices, negotiating your offers, and succeeding in your program. [Slides]

3:45-4:45 pm:  Improving Chapter Networking in our Zone (hybrid)

We had a brainstorming session and discussion about ways chapters in our zone can network and interact with each other.

4:45-5:00 pm:  Closing Remarks

5:00 pm: Meal & Other Fun Activities

We departed for a local restaurant to celebrate another successful year in Zone 7! 


At least 6 undergraduate students and alumni and 5 faculty members attended the meeting. Chapters that were represented were from Wayne State University, Lawrence Tech University, Kettering University, and University of Detroit Mercy.

Meeting Activities

The primary focus of this zone meeting was to facilitate discussion for building connections between chapters, ways for our chapters to remain active, and how to help out other chapters that are at threat of going dormant. The president of the Wayne State University chapter, Jacob Callebs, started the meeting with some opening remarks (Figs. 1, 2). We began the meeting with an update on the status of SPS National, including resources available, membership, etc. This led us into a discussion between attendees to brainstorm ideas for activities in our chapters. A few different ideas came up, such as fundraising with bake sales, Rent-A-Student, community service, as well as social activities like holiday-related parties and games, Physics Tea Time, and other ways to use student spaces around campus. Our Associate Zone Councilor, Rebecca Abbott-McCune, also gave an informative presentation on how to write a chapter report to include these kinds of activities (Fig. 3). We also had a talk by Dr. Kumon on the path to graduate school, including how to find graduate schools you want to apply to  and the aspects that make a great graduate school application. We ended the meeting with another discussion on how to better connect with other chapters, including building a Discord server for communication, gauging interest in different social events to be held between regions in the Zone and with the entire Zone, and more. After a group photo (Fig. 4) and appearance of a spherical cow (Fig. 5), we then ended the night with dinner at Hopcat, a local restaurant in Detroit.

Recommendations for Future Zone Meeting Planning

The main issue we came across when planning the meeting was spreading awareness to the entire zone that a meeting was occurring and for registration. Overall logistics worked out well, including finding a space to host the meeting, getting funding, and actual setup of the event. We found it highly beneficial to talk to the different departments at our university, including our Dean’s Office, who agreed to pay for the parking fees for the meeting, the Parking Administration to expedite the process to get parking spaces for the event, and our Physics Department for funding until reimbursement could be distributed out. In terms of spreading the word, we set up this meeting over a span of two months as it was short notice. In the future, it would likely be much better to spread the word about six months prior to give better time for organizing logistics, spreading the world and giving people the ability to set aside time in their schedules, and to work out any issues that may arise when setting up.


The Spring 2023 SPS Zone 7 Meeting at Wayne State University provided many great insights into how chapters can not only grow at their home universities, but to also grow together as a Zone. Many great talking points were raised, including how to engage with students on campus and in our departments, what events we can hold for both fundraising and social events that will increase student participation, and how we can better connect with other chapters, be it through email lists or Discord. We look forward to meeting again around the time of the next EGLS APS meeting at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, on October 21st, 2023.


We would like to acknowledge financial support from the Office of the Dean of College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at WSU for covering the fees associated with parking for attendees.  We would also like to thank John and Dawn Niedermiller, Dr. Edward Cackett, the WSU Parking Services, the Dean of WSU CLAS, and the WSU Student Center for their help in organizing this meeting, be it through actual set-up of the banquet room or logistical support.


From wonderful discussions about networking in the Zone to shenanigans with the spherical cow, the Spring 2023 SPS Zone 7 Meeting was an enjoyable and productive experience at Wayne State University! The meeting was held on May 6th, 2023 from 12 PM to 6 PM at the Wayne State University Student Center right in the heart of Detroit. With the help of Zone Councilor Dr. Ron Kumon, Associate Zone Council Rebecca Abbott-McCune, and the WSU Chapter, the meeting kicked off with introductory remarks by WSU Chapter President Jacob Callebs, an astrophysics major at the university. With about 10 people in-person, there were another 3 SPS members online that tuned in via Zoom to experience the meeting and to take part in the discussions during it.

After the introduction, Dr. Kumon gave a presentation about the Society of Physics Students, including the structure of SPS, the numerous benefits SPS has for its members, how to sign up for national membership, and ideas for outreach that SPS can help with. This was an excellent opportunity for all attendees to ask questions about how SPS works, including scholarship applications, what tools SPS can provide to assist in fundraising, as well as how to stay in contact with SPS National should issues arise. Considering the overwhelming number of resources available to SPS members, we also took a tour of the SPS website, including how to navigate around to find resources like handbooks and scholarship applications. Many of the attendees found something that they did not know about SPS that they could take back with them to their chapters!

Talking about the structure of SPS National led our meeting into a very thorough discussion about chapter activity, headed up by Rebecca. Talking to all of the attendees, it was clear that most members were concerned about keeping interest and activity within their chapters. Everyone needed more ideas for fundraising to help bring their ideas together for social events they had planned. Luckily, this discussion brought up a wealth of ideas, from bake sales to pie-a-professor for fundraising, to planetarium movie nights and holiday get-together parties. This was the perfect time for everyone to share what they did during 2022 to give ideas to other chapters of what they can do for the following semester. After the bulk of the discussion, Rebecca led us into a short presentation on the new format of Chapter Reports, including what the Councilors would like to see in the report, tips on formatting the report, and of course, encouraging everyone to submit their reports.

After a hearty discussion of chapter activity and reports, as well as plenty of time for a snack break, Dr. Kumon gave another presentation focusing on the “Path to Graduate School.” In this presentation, Dr. Kumon explained the timeline before graduation on when students should be conducting research, when applications are typically due, and what is the best time to start looking for graduate schools. Dr. Kumon also gave great insight on what types of questions you should be asking yourself before going to graduate school, including, “Do you like teaching and research? Do you like working on your own?” We also learned about the GradSchoolShopper tool to look into different graduate programs at universities all across the U.S., including programs offered, requirements for applications, etc. The presentation proved to be an excellent resource to help educate us on best practices when it comes to preparing for graduate school.

To wrap up the meeting, we took time for a final discussion on how to increase networking between chapters in the Zone. We all agree it can be difficult keeping up with others during our busy lives, and sometimes it is difficult coordinating these efforts to host events for local chapters. One of the main ideas we came up with was fixing up the current Zone 7 Discord server so every university had their own category of text chats, allowing them to have their own privacy, but to also have Zone-level announcements all in the same place. This is an effort mostly supported by Rebecca and Jacob, and will likely be ready for use later in Summer 2023. Other students also brought up ideas of actual events to host, including potential camping trips, holiday parties, large movie nights, and more. These could be organized for local chapters, entire states, or the entire Zone as we move forward with our efforts for networking.

With the bulk of the meeting over, a few group pictures with our very own Spherical Cow, and a fresh mindset of ideas for the future, we ended the meeting with dinner at Hopcat, a local restaurant down Woodward Avenue. While enjoying burgers, mac n’ cheese, and the amazing Cosmik Fries with their house made cheese sauce, we all got extra time to socialize and discuss our research fields. We also got an interesting mini-lecture from Dr. Kumon on his journey through being a physics professor, as well as his research in acoustics. Seeing how happy everyone was to come out to the meeting, as well as the many questions attendees had during discussions and talks, we could tell the meeting was a great success, even with the small attendance. We are hopeful and excited for the 2023‒2024 academic year, where we can implement all of these great ideas to bring more activity not only to our home universities, but the entirety of Zone 7!

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