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Meetings  
[an error occurred while processing this directive] A Year Like None Other
National Society of Black Physicists and National Society of Hispanic Physicists Annual Conference in Washington, DC

By Adam Lowery, Yannick Goue, Martin Ovie Arienmughare, and Kudzanayi Munetsi-Mugomba , SPS Reporters, Lincoln University

 

2007 Nobel Prize winner John Mather poses with students.

 

Whoever said, “Dreams can come true” was dead on. It all began with an idea that was transformed into reality, thus three months of planning and scheduling accorded Lincoln University’s Physics and Engineering club the opportunity to attend the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and National Society of Hispanic Physicists (NSHP) annual conference in Washington, DC.

This year’s meeting place for the annual conference could not have been more appropriate. The idea of holding this meeting in the heart of America’s capital, Washington, DC whilst taking into account the current races for the primary nominations for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates undoubtedly created the ambience for a very rich and academically rewarding conference.

As is the custom from previous years, Wednesday February 20, was the arrival and registration date for most of the conference participants. The elegance and glamour of staying in a four-diamond luxury hotel soon sunk in as the multitude of student conference attendees assumed a relaxed ‘air’ of contentment. An informal banquet which is analogous to a social reunion with old and new friends was held later on that evening. Besides the banquet, the only major event for the day was the Society of Physics Students Jeopardy game.

 
Physics Jeopardy Game with Dr. Gary White, Director of SPS & Sigma Pi Sigma.  

Immediately following the conclusion of the game, most of the students retired to their rooms in expectation for a very intellectually rewarding conference. Thursday morning began in earnest with a continental breakfast followed by talks in Condensed Matter and Material Physics, Acoustics, Nuclear and Particle Physics and Preparing for Graduate School. As with last year, all the plenary sessions took into account the different academic levels of the students, hence most of the talks began on a freshman Physics level building up to the core of their respective presentations.

The official opening to the conference was held by the current outgoing president, Dr. Quinton Williams, chair of the physics department at Jackson State University. Following Dr. Williams‘s opening remarks Dr. Aboubaker Beye CEO of the African Laser Center (ALC) and the guest speaker for that afternoon took us through a journey into Laser Physics in Africa. In a forthright style, he expounded on his vision for the ALC. Dr Beye suggested that African universities need to move from a more general and fundamental curriculum to a more applied one as a step in providing the ALC with an on-site workforce. Likewise, he said that African countries should chip in to finance the ALC. When asked about the role of the Africans of the diaspora, Dr Beye revealed his hope to provide incentives to encourage those Africans to join the ALC in promoting the development of Africa through science.

 

Dr. Beye being interviewed by SPS Reporters.

 

After lunch, the talks, presentations and plenary sessions were in full swing again. The afternoon talks equally matched their morning counterparts’, and in addition to the talks the exhibitors were busy luring all the different conference attendees to their respective tables. Dr. John C. Mather, the winner of Nobel Prize in Physics 2006 and a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center was the guest speaker at the evening banquet. We were taken through a journey from his childhood years in New Jersey to his Noble Laureate work on black body form and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background radiation and to his current research on infrared astronomy and cosmology.

Friday morning’s proceedings were much similar to Thursdays, with the exception that Friday’s talks were more centered upon Physics Education, Medical Physics, and Physics in Africa, Cosmology, Gravitation, Optics and Atomic Physics. The guest speaker for the lunch session was the honorable, Dr. Donald C. Winter, the 74th Secretary of the Navy and a Physics doctorate degree recipient from the University of Michigan. His talk was more sensitive towards the future of Physics, Science and America.

Friday afternoon was a very busy time for the exhibitors, as this was their last chance in show casing their corporations’ research, graduate schools, and internship opportunities. Upon conversing with some of the exhibitors’, they all echoed that the conference from their perspectives was very successful and encouraged the students to take on the initiative in strengthening the relationships established at the conference. Following the tradition of the conference, Friday night was an ‘open night’ where conference attendees had the opportunity to do whatever they wanted to do in the city.

 
Dr. Donald C. Winter.  

Saturday was a day meant for the students as the main highlight for the morning was a poster session for both undergraduate and graduate students. As was the case with the plenary and talks from the previous days, the posters were varied and diverse to the same accord. Undoubtedly the future of Physics is bright. Following the poster session was lunch; the theme for this period was ‘Networking and Mentoring’. The gravity, tension, and exhaustion of the week could be observed from the decreasing attendance to the talks in the afternoon. Most of the students, were now anticipating the closing banquet to the conference.

 
 

Dr. Sylvester J. Gates.

At the closing banquet we were enthralled by the talk of University of Maryland Professor, Dr. Sylvester J. Gates, he is a world renowned Physicist who received his undergraduate and doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). At the conference Dr. Gates enlightened his audience with the opportunities that come with pursuing Physics and informed us a little bit more about his current research in String Theory. Upon being interviewed by one of by one of the SPS reporters, Dr. Gates was asked, “Why he pursued Physics instead of Engineering”, and he responded by saying, “He found more enjoyment out of Physics.” In his speech Dr. Gates emphasized the idea that as, minorities, it is very essential to think outside the box because the current wave in science and technology around the world enforces us to do this.

After a thunderous standing ovation, the new president for the NSBP, Dr. Peter Delfyett from the University of Central Florida took on the stage and gave his opening remarks. Following Dr. Delfyett’s remarks, the scholarship and poster awards ceremony became the center of the lime-light. Two SPS reporters, Kudzanayi Mugomba and Martin Arienmughare of Lincoln University won two of the four scholarships awarded on that evening. In total four scholarship awards, and four-poster awards were awarded at the conference.

 
Connell, Delfyett & Johnson SPIE award.  

The conclusion to the conference was marked by the ‘reception and social event’. Students alike gathered on the dance floor, to the beats and rhythms of yet another very successful conference. As we all anxiously anticipate next year’s conference in Tennessee, the memories and relationships from the Washington, DC conference will forever stand in history.

 

 

 

 

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