February 28, 2017

Students win awards at PhysCon 2016

Cleveland State University physics students attended the 2016 Quadrennial Physics Congress, where three of ten received awards for their contributions to the event better known as PhysCon.

The Cleveland State University members of Society of Physics Students (SPS) traveled to San Francisco, Calif. to attend the convention.

The event varies with each occurrence, especially in theme. The latest theme was Unifying Fields: Science Driving Innovation, with a focus on how physics is applied in engineering, biology and nearly all fields of science.

At PhysCon, Cleveland State students took advantage of nearly every event offered.

Students were able to tour the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. This laboratory at Stanford University is home to the world’s longest particle accelerator, and has been fundamental in advancements in physics. According to the laboratory, six Nobel prizes have been awarded as a direct result of work done at SLAC.

Aside from touring the facility, PhysCon also featured a number of speakers who focused on the topic of Unifying Fields. The speakers included S. James Gates, the science adviser to President Barrack Obama, Jacelyn Burnell, Ph. D., the scientist who discovered pulsars, and Persis Drell, Ph. D., the current dean of engineering at Stanford.

The speakers had unique qualifications, and used their backgrounds to explain relationships among fields of physics.

Kiril Streletzky, the adviser to SPS, appreciated that such important speakers talked to students personally.

“They were asking students what classes are you taking, do you want to focus on anything else… [It was] definitely inspiring to them, and that all of these people really spent time with students, didn’t appear condescending and were very helpful,” Streletzky said.

The final part of PhysCon featured displays of original student research, which included Cleveland State. At the conference, which 1,200 students attended, about 400 of them presented their research.

Many came from the “heavyweights of research,” as Streletzky referred to them, including Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford.

Cleveland State students Daniel Terrona and Ilona Tsuper, both physics and chemistry double majors, took home prizes for their work.

Along with these prizes for presenting, Samantha Tietjen, a physics major with a math minor, also received an award for her article reflecting on PhysCon which will be published in the magazine of Sigma Pi Sigma, the honors society for physics majors.

Although the trip will not occur again for four years, Streletzky encourages students to meet with the Society for Physics Students every Thursday at noon, in SR 151.


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