Every year, the American Physics Society (APS) holds 2 conferences. People
from around the world attend these, and these people present the newest and most
groundbreaking research being done today in Physics. At these conferences, there
are often a small handful of undergraduate students wondering around. This April,
from the 12th to the 16th, four of those students were from Truman State University’s
very own Society of Physics Students Club. These students were not invited to the
conference, nor were they encouraged to go by their professors. They attended this
completely out of their own volition.|
The conference was in Denver, Colorado, and the delegates from Truman could
not afford plain tickets. Thus, they drove. They drove for 12 hours there and back,
and during these car rides they worked on homework, played a series of car games
to grow closer as a delegation, and discussed the topics from the conference on the
way back. They were also observant about the tiredness of the driver at any given
time, and each took turns driving to ensure safe travels.
At the conference, the delegates were thrown into a series of presentations in
advanced topics in Physics. Presentations would run back to back, 15-18
presentations between each half-hour break, from 8:00 AM until the evening. One
delegate, Tatsuya Akiba, even presented during an undergraduate research session.
The delegates realized immediately that they would be able to understand virtually
none of what was presented during this conference. Regardless, they pulled out their
notebooks and pens, and jotted down as many notes about what they were seeing as
possible. Key words, graphs, and equations were all frantically scribbled into their
notebooks. At the end of the conference, they may not have understood everything,
but they pushed themselves to learn as much as possible.
During the conference, the delegates housed themselves in an Air-BNB known
as Zen-Haven. From this Air-BNB, they made food together, explored Denver
together, and did homework together. All the while, they would still spend their
evenings talking about the conference and the various presentations they had gone
to that day.
Finally, the delegates had made it back to Truman. Having had a long weekend,
and tired from the drive back, they immediately jumped right back into the middle of
their school week (Except for Tatsuya, he stayed in Colorado for the rest of the week
to visit his future graduate school). Dr. Lindevald, the chair of the Truman Physics
department, had asked the delegates to bring what they learned at the conference
back to their campus. So, during the April All Physics Students meeting on April 25th,
the delegates presented what they had learned. This included the new words they
had learned, some of the educational research they had seen and understood, and a
few of the topics they encountered which, while not having been able to understand
them, stood out to them as interesting.
In conclusion, the April APS Conference delegates from Truman State University were
focused, driven, and brought what they learned back to their community. They were
respectful of the house they were staying in, making sure to clean everything and put
it back the way it was when they got there, and they also showed genuine care for
their role in bringing this information back to Truman. For this reason, I would like to
nominate the April APS Meeting Truman State University undergraduate delegation
for Spotlight of the Month in April, 2019.
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