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'Distinguished' Physics Students

The National Society of Physics Students named the University of Dayton's chapter a distinguished chapter for the 2016-17 academic year, for its involvement in local, regional and national Society of Physics Students meetings and events. This comes on the heels of the national organization bestowing "outstanding" and "distinguished" designations on the UD chapter in 2015-16 and 2014-15, respectively.

“This national recognition highlights the strength of our students and the department of physics to audiences outside of the University,” said John Erdei, associate professor and chair of department of physics.

Jay Mathews, an assistant physics professor and the University chapter's adviser, helped increase chapter engagement by recruiting students in his Introduction to Physics classes. Today, the campus organization has grown from a few independent students to 30 active members.

“The SPS chapter is an integral part of the physics department,” said Mathews, who has served as the group’s advisor since 2014. “Physics is a difficult subject and SPS helps to build a camaraderie among the students. Working as a team is something that is essential in a difficult degree program.”

Matthew Mircovich, a senior from River Edge, New Jersey, and treasurer of the University’s SPS chapter, started at the University as a mechanical engineer major. But after taking Mathews’ first-year physics course for engineering majors and getting introduced to SPS, he decided to pursue a degree in physics.

“I met a lot of friends through SPS. It is a really tight-knit community and everyone is super helpful,” said Mircovich, who has been accepted into the graduate program at University of Central Florida College of Optics and Photonics, one of the top schools in the country for optics studies.

Mathews has enjoyed watching Mircovich’s progress and success.

“It is rewarding to watch Matt go from being a freshman in my class, doing research in my laboratory, taking my advanced laboratory class and now he has gotten accepted to a top graduate school,” Mathews said.

Through the interaction with fellow members, SPS provides an environment for physics majors to grow professionally and personally. During the academic year, the organization holds weekly chapter meetings, organizes bake sale fundraisers, Murder Mystery dinners, and game and movie nights.

In February, SPS students assisted physics department faculty at Techfest, an annual event hosted by Sinclair Community College in Dayton for students in kindergarten through grade 12. The event, which attracted an estimated 4,000 students this year, featured interactive science, technology, engineering and math demonstrations.

The SPS students' table this year focused on space. Demonstrations included a vacuum jar for testing pressure on marshmallows until they explode, building a gravity-well to explain Einstein’s theory of gravity and using polarizers to show how light works.

“As a club we have been invited to a few science nights at local elementary schools,” said Rachel Adams, president of the University’s SPS chapter. “It is fun to be able to share a love for science with younger students.”

SPS members include students majoring in physics, engineering, education and geology, but the group is open to anyone on campus with a passion for physics.

“Our requirement is that you have an interest in physics,” Mathews said. “Because physics is involved in a lot of different things. People who do engineering are really doing applied physics. This is why first-year physics is integral to a student’s education.”

For more information about the chapter, please visit the department of physics website.

- Lauren Reid ‘18

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