2022 PhysCon Poster Session Opens Doors to the Future

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2022 PhysCon Poster Session Opens Doors to the Future


Calvin Sprouse, with Makaila Ann, Nicholas Boyles, Kyle Campbell, Roy Cruz, Dominic Horne, Nicholas Klein, Nicolas Puentes, Chris Manry, and Isaac Smith, SPS Reporters, Central Washington University


2022 Physics Congress attendees learn about current research being conducted by undergraduates at the poster session. Photo by William Tupa, Joseph Granlie, and Sigurd Saude, North Dakota State University (NDSU) SPS reporters.

A room packed full of people, pamphlets, pens, and oversized papers may not sound like much, but it represented the heart and soul of my 2022 PhysCon experience. 

It was my first time presenting research, and I was worried I’d bitten off more than I could chew. My coauthors and I had attempted to fit nearly an entire summer’s worth of work onto a 36- by 48-inch poster. Then we had to fit the poster into a four-inch-diameter poster tube, board a cross-country flight from Washington State to Washington, DC, and present our work in a packed room. 

Thinking about all the work that went into our poster really put the room into perspective. With more than 300 posters on display—each crammed with the hard-earned results of fellow undergrads—that room had energy. It was hard to believe that all those posters, all that work, took up only half of the large space.


Boushrah Kassir, from the University of Colorado Denver, presents a poster on making physics labs more applicable and interesting to students. Photo by the NDSU SPS reporters.

My coauthors and I took turns presenting our work. I wasn’t scheduled to present for the first 30 minutes of our session, so I spent time exploring the other half of the room, where tables held pens and pamphlets from graduate schools and companies from around the country. I knew graduate school was in my future, so I inquired about programs and collected flyers and business cards from each table. I was surprised by the number of schools advertising summer research opportunities. Before I knew it—and before I finished my graduate school rounds—my watch was vibrating. It was time to head back to my group. 

At our poster, a member of my summer research team was passionately describing the motion of molecular motors on molecular highways to a small group of students. When he was finished, I took his place and was almost immediately approached by a student who said, “So tell me about this project behind you.” Before I knew it my shift was up, and I was free to explore the room once more.


Getting the Central Washington University group to the 2022 Physics Congress may not have been easy, but it was worth it. Photo courtesy of the Central Washington University SPS reporters.

Wandering through the maze of posters, I quickly learned not to let intimidating titles or unfamiliar faces deter me and became enamored with the quest for knowledge. Each poster was more interesting than the previous one, and they branched into fields of research I hadn’t previously considered. It was comforting to know that the faces next to the posters were fellow undergraduates—and inspiring to know that they did this research with knowledge and resources similar to my own. If I had stopped at every poster that caught my eye, I wouldn’t have made it more than 10 feet from my own poster. By the time I had gone just 20 feet, I suddenly realized that the session had been over for several minutes and it was now time for lunch. I welcomed the break for some much-needed food but knew that tomorrow I had much more to see.

Back in the sea of posters the next day, I was greeted by new presenters excited to answer questions about their work. I visited the poster of a fellow chapter member and was awestruck by the presentation that I had only heard bits and pieces of before. The research captivated me for what felt like an hour. Next, I heard about a project from friends I had met during breakout sessions. I was especially happy to find students doing research in a field I hope to pursue one day; we shared contact information and vowed to help each other with grad school applications and to keep in touch.

Unfortunately, there weren’t enough minutes in the day to hear about all of the undergraduate research being presented or to talk to every graduate school in the exhibit hall. As the room emptied of students our impact was clear―posters still marked every wall, brochure stands were empty, and the coffee carafes desperately needed refills. I knew that in just a day or so the room would be back to normal and ready for the next group of students, business people, or hotel guests. What will never be the same is my outlook on the future, which has been forever enhanced by this display of student abilities. And I hope that my school will forever be changed as I bring this experience back with me.  


Jessica Hamer, from Rhodes College, showcases work on a nanosatellite-printed circuit board that is part of a CubeSat project. Photo by the NDSU SPS reporters.

Help Students Attend the 2025 Physics and Astronomy Congress

To help provide travel assistance to students presenting research at or reporting on the 2025 Physics and Astronomy Congress, please give to the AIP Foundation's Congress Centennial Endowment Fund at foundation.aip.org/student-programs.html


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