University of Michigan SPS Chapter

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On March 8, 2006, Lyle posted National Chapter Information

Contact Information

President: Katherine Alatalo
Vice President: John Lucido
Secretary: Tim Chambers
Treasurer: Amy Kuo

Faculty Advisor:
Prof. Leopoldo Pando Zayas

University of Michigan SPS Chapter Image

Advisor Comment:

The C. Wilbur Peters Chapter of Society of Physics students has received the "Outstanding Chapter Award" from National SPS for four straight years. These awards are direct recognition of the magnificent work the chapter has been doing.  It not only provides a unique sense of community to physics majors through its many activities, but it reaches out as well.  The SPS chapter has a very strong inreach program that covers topics ranging from properties of matter to astrophysics.  Students are extremely active in the group and have done immense amounts to contribute to the health of the physics department thus creating an excellent relationship with the faculty and staff.  In its biweekly meetings the chapter organizes presentations by the faculty that gives its members a first hand account of research in many directions. Members of the chapter have established a tutoring system that includes online tutoring, and conducting problem solving sessions. The tutoring benefits the body of students taking physics and provides SPS members with a unique opportunity to influence the few potential physics majors in the large lecture classes. This year the chapter is organizing the Zone 7 annual Zone Meeting.  It is not an understatement to say this group upholds the famous Wolverine motto: "the leaders and best."


The primary outreach event sponsored by Society of Physics Students is called a physics "inreach."  On 5 Saturdays a year groups of 6th graders from the Ovid Elsie school district come to campus and are taught physical concepts by members of the chapter.  Attendance for kids is usually 30-40 and attendance for SPS members is usually 20-25.  Example inreaches include "Physical Properties of Matter", "Waves and Vibrations" and "Astrophysics" (run jointly with the Student Astronomical Society.)  The other annual outreach program is run jointly with the physics department, called "Physics Olympiad."  High school students are invited to the University to compete in teams for trophies by solving various physics problems.  Example events are "hot air balloons" and "water balloon catapulting."


Jacob Bourjaily has earned:
  • British Marshall Scholar 2005
  • Best Student, Erice International School of Subnuclear Physics 2004
  • Paul A. M. Dirac Scholar, Erice International School of Subnuclear Physics 2004
  • Barry M. Goldwater Scholar 2004
Michael Kagan received an REU position at CERN over the summer of 2004.

Alex Povilus has been chosen to present a talk at the Division of Atomic Molecular and Optical Physics (DAMOP) conference in Lincoln, Nebraska 17-21 of May.


We have bi-weekly meetings that feature faculty speakers from U of M to talk about various areas of interest.

We run an annual undergraduate lecture series in which undergraduate SPS members give a brief presentation about their research and faculty members and their peers judge their talk to determine winners of prizes.

Run the annual student/faculty softball game.

Lunched with a distinguished guest of the department: Nobel Laureate David Gross.

Ran a table at "festifall" (the beginning of the year student organization showcase at U of M)

Hosted a trip to Wiard's orchard for both a hayride and a bonfire.

Began a weekly "Feynman brunch".  On Sundays, students came for bagels and stayed to watch Feynman's lectures from Jacob Bourjaily's personal collection.