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Marshall chapter of Society of Physics students earns Outstanding Chapter Award

Marshall University’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has earned an Outstanding Chapter award from the national SPS office for a fourth consecutive year.

The Marshall chapter has been nationally recognized for six successive years with national awards, with the last four years receiving the highest possible distinction rarely recognized by the American Institute of Physics.

“I am always excited to see when our students get rewarded and recognized for their efforts and hard work. Only 73 of over 800 SPS chapters have been honored with such a distinction in the 2022-2023 academic year, so the students should be very proud of their accomplishment,” said Dr. Sean P. McBride, associate professor in the Mathematics and Physics Department at Marshall and the chapter’s advisor. “The students have done a phenomenal job working with students in both the on and off campus communities with STEM focused outreach and recruitment activities for Marshall. One example was an outreach at both Davis Creek and Highlawn Elementary schools helping students make pinhole cameras.”

The pinhole camera outreach events earned national attention through an article published in the 2024 winter edition of the nationally distributed magazine, The SPS Observer. and also led to the chapter receiving the Community Service Event of the Year award by Marshall’s Office of Intercultural and Student Affairs, which was presented at the 2024 Leadership Awards Ceremony.

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association designed for students, and membership is open to any student 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 Marshall has been advised by McBride since 2017 and is led by student officers.

The 2022-2023 SPS officers who shared multiple responsibilities over the course of the successful term included Eli Williamson, AJ Messinger, Liv Stockwin, Kolbey Walker, and Victoria Maynor.

“I am so proud of the Marshall SPS chapter and feel a great sense of pride in having been a part of such a stellar organization,” Williamson said. “Though my tenure as president was short, it made me feel as if I was a part of something much bigger than me, and to have that for a short time helped fuel my passion for physics and outreach.”

Williamson said his favorite thing about participating in the chapter was the impact it has on potential future scientists.

SPS chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public, and with SPS national programs.

A second physics-affiliated club sponsored by McBride was named the university’s Outstanding New Student Organization of the Year during the leadership awards.

The Marshall University Astronomy Club (MUAC) is not major-specific and is even open to members of the community who have a love of astronomy and their community. The club regularly hosts sky-viewing events on campus, which are open to the public, and anticipates hosting a university-wide sky-viewing event for the upcoming total solar eclipse.

Hannah Turner is president of the club and says the event is set for the afternoon of Monday, April 8 on Buskirk Field.

“We will have multiple telescopes operational for viewing purposes, as well as eclipse viewing glasses made available,” Turner said. “We anticipate a visibility time frame of 1:54 p.m. to 4:26 p.m. Largely, telescopes will be positioned on Buskirk Field, although expansion could entail positioning closer to the Memorial Student Center. Refreshments will also be made available.”

The 2024 officer positions for the Marshall University Astronomy Club include Wallace Payne, Owen Gibson, Abby Thompson and Turner.


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