Why Didn’t We Think of That?

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Chapter Shorts

Why Didn’t We Think of That?

Welcoming the Next Class

by Joyce Palmer-Fortune, SPS Chapter Advisor, Smith College

Ten students from the physics department at Smith College gathered in early April for an unusual SPS activity—writing letters. They congratulated and welcomed the 32 students who were newly accepted to Smith and had expressed interest in a physics major. Many SPS members reached out to students who shared a common interest or came from the same geographic area. Later that month, SPS members met with several of the students they had written to during campus visits to share more about physics at Smith.

No Flux Given

by Nathaniel O, SPS Chapter Vice President, Saint Joseph’s University

The 2022 fall semester marked the first semester since Saint Joseph’s University (SJU) officially merged with the University of the Sciences (USciences), bringing together two campuses, physics departments, SPS chapters, and student cohorts. To our chapter’s delight, the number of physics students tripled. But managing this large, geographically divided department presented its own issues—issues that our preexisting structure wasn’t prepared to handle. 

In spring 2023 we replaced some of our regular informative meetings with a department newsletter called No Flux Given (NFG). As the semester developed, professors and students began sending content to include and suggestions for new sections, such as student and professor spotlights. One highlight is the weekly Hot Take, where we invite students and faculty to respond to fun prompts such as “Coke vs. Pepsi” or “Is water wet?” Answers are featured in the following edition of NFG and highlight the diverse personalities in our department. Interestingly, we’ve started engaging with our department’s adjunct professors because of this. Many majors (including me) didn’t even know we had adjuncts until we started seeing their Hot Take responses.

The effect of NFG on our in-person meetings became evident over the semester. Our two major meetings had much-improved attendance, a more relaxed environment, food, and group activities. Unlike the information-swamped SPS meetings often led by faculty, “The physics major meetings became more student-centered, as they should always be,” said Roberto Ramos, our SPS advisor.

The National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP)

NSHP aims to promote the professional well-being and recognize the accomplishments of Hispanic physicists within the US scientific community and society. The society seeks to develop and support efforts to increase opportunities for Hispanics in physics and increase the number of practicing Hispanic physicists, particularly by encouraging Hispanic students to enter physics careers. Learn more at hispanicphysicists.org. 

Chapter report excerpts have been edited for clarity and length.


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