Students to attend, present at national physics conference

Posted October 30, 2012

The Department of Engineering and Physics is sponsoring a trip to the 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress, or PhysCon, held November 8-10 at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Orlando, Fla. This national conference is geared towards undergraduates and gives students the opportunity to interact with Nobel Prize winners, astronauts, industry leaders and researchers. 30 students from ACU are attending the conference, 11 of whom are presenting research.

"I am so proud that ACU is sending the second largest group of students of any university in the country right behind MIT," says Dr. Mike Daugherity, assistant professor of engineering and physics.

The students have been fundraising for four years in preparation for the conference and expect to gain much from their attendance. "I hope we will leave PhysCon with improved skills and new techniques for bringing physics to the public," says Spenser Lynn, senior physics student from White Oak, Texas. "I hope we can enhance our current outreach projects on campus and be inspired to start new and better projects."

PhysCon is unlike any other physics meeting, combining roundtable discussions, distinguished speakers, and laboratory tours with poster sessions and celebrations of art and science. Undergraduate and graduate physics students, practicing physicists, and physics alumni will come together for a weekend of cutting-edge science and engaging discussion. This year's theme is "Connecting Worlds Through Science and Service" and will explore how scientists can influence society.

"This year's theme will focus on ways to effectively communicate physics not only to the scientific community, but also to the general public. We want to change the misconception that physics is too far out of reach for the public to understand and appreciate," says Lynn.

"When I learn about the wave-particle duality of light or that every atom in our bodies came from a star that exploded, I want to grab people on the street and ask them, 'Have you heard this?' The field of physics is too rich and exciting to be limited to a small group of people when there are seven billion people who could have the same sense of wonder and excitement we have."

The conference is hosted every four years by Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honors society. The 2008 conference welcomed more than 600 physics students, faculty, and alumni at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill. The 2012 PhysCon will build on the energy and enthusiasm of the 2008 conference with an anticipated 800 participants.

Learn more about the Department of Engineering and Physics.

Learn more about the Quadrennial Physics Congress.