Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College physics students win national recognition

Lycoming College physics students win national recognition

(l-r) Jordan Jason, Priktish Suntoo, Maryam Esmat, Kirk Kleinsasser, Holland McVey, Matthew Velardi, Amber Elinsky (seated) Lauren Balliet, advisor

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Student-led physical sciences organization is honored with award from the national office of the Society of Physics Students as an Outstanding Chapter

The Lycoming College chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has won an Outstanding Chapter Award from the SPS National Office. This is the fifteenth time the Sigma Pi Sigma chapter has been recognized for its excellence as a top-tier student-led physical sciences organization since it was established in 1968, a designation given to fewer than 10 percent of all SPS chapters at colleges and universities in the United States and internationally.

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association designed for students and membership is open to anyone interested in physics and related fields. SPS operates within the American Institute of Physics (AIP), an umbrella organization for professional physical science societies.

The SPS chapter at Lycoming College is advised by Lauren Balliet, physics lab manager and planetarium director, and is led by student officers. The 2020-2021 officers are:

  • Kirk Kleinsasser ’23, president
  • Matthew Velardi ’22, vice president
  • Holland McVey ’23, treasurer
  • Jordan Jason ’22, secretary
  • Amber Elinsky ’23, public relations
  • Priktish Suntoo ’23, webmaster

“As a chapter, our goals go beyond providing physics related events; we aim to foster an inclusive community of students with a shared interest in physics. We certainly value our ability to finance large events — I was astounded when SPS managed to raise funds to send ten of our members to attend a major physic conference (PhysCon2019) in Rhode Island last academic year — but it is our inclusive community that sets us apart from other chapters,” said Kleinsasser. “Our chapter has welcomed me with open arms and fostered my love of physics since I was first-year student fresh out of high school. I have felt included and enthused since my first event as a member. I think this sense of community is what makes our chapter so valuable for our students and what SPS national finds so admirable in our chapter reports.”

SPS chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public, and with SPS national programs. The Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes high levels of outreach as well as unique approaches to fulfilling the mission of SPS to “help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community.” Lycoming’s Sigma Pi Sigma chapter was recognized as outstanding for activities such as touring Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Nashville, Tenn., as well as Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. The chapter also attended the Physcon 2019 National Conference in Provident, R.I., and its president was awarded the Herbert Levy Memorial Scholarship.

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