A Growing “Physics Phamily”

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Chapter Profile

A Growing “Physics Phamily”


Matt Mancini, SPS Chapter President, New College of Florida

Physics professor Mariana Sendova instructs student Jay Mosher on conducting vibrational analysis of Raman spectra. Photo courtesy of New College of Florida.New College of Florida in Sarasota is a small liberal arts school that focuses on academics to prepare students for graduate work and professional opportunities. As such, our physics students were seeking ways to become more involved in the national physics conversation, and there seemed to be no better means of accomplishing this goal than by founding an SPS chapter.

Following up with the addition of a Sigma Pi Sigma national honor society, New College’s physics students have since developed a tight-knit community that seeks to help its members achieve success in the field. Students accomplish these goals by hosting homework workshops and tutoring sessions and by conducting outreach demos in local schools throughout the year.

For example, in 2019, chapter president Matthew Mancini and treasurer Alex Sturzu went to Sarasota High School (SHS) to demonstrate the interferometry principles underpinning LIGO and exhibit the dazzling geometric patterns of cymatics. Students from every level of physics offered by SHS also had the opportunity to participate in a Q&A session on what higher education in physics looks like from day to day and how to develop an improved understanding of career paths in the field.

Ultimately, SPS/Sigma Pi Sigma has had an incredibly positive effect on the building of community within our physics discipline. The chapter has facilitated the development of daily meeting space in which students can discuss and work on class assignments and explore their interests in physics. Almost every day there’s now lively debate on various topics such as the ontological foundations of quantum mechanics (or lack thereof) or whether QFT or GR dominates.

SPS/Sigma Pi Sigma at New College has provided fertile soil for the growth of our “Physics Phamily”—and we could not be happier. 

Physics professor Mariana Sendova (center), SPS president Matt Mancini (left), and treasurer Alex Sturzu (right) work together on the CRAIC microspectrophotometer and discuss the analysis needed on newly received glass samples. Photos courtesy of New College of Florida.

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