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International Nuclear Physics Conference (INPC)
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July 4-9, 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
by Anne Andrew, University of Colorado Denver

The author with her poster at INPC.  

I am a fifth year senior in the undergraduate physics department at the University of Colorado Denver. While perusing the websites of my top picks for graduate school, I came across an announcement for the International Nuclear Physics Conference (INPC) being held at my first choice school, the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (UBC).  I was very excited until I noticed that in order to be considered for the student grant program and poster session, you needed to already be in a graduate program.  The INPC is held every three years, so this would be my only chance until 2013 to attend such an event. I decided to go ahead and be bold.

  I emailed Glen Marshall, the student coordinator, and asked if there was any way that the INPC board would consider letting me apply for the conference as a student. Since I’m almost done with my degree and I have been working on a relevant research project (a cyclotron particle accelerator), which I could present as a poster, I thought it was a reasonable request.  After a week of consideration, they agreed to consider my application and I went ahead and submitted my abstract with two reference letters.  To my great surprise, and to the surprise of my professors, during the week of finals last spring I received notice that I had been accepted and would be presenting my poster at the conference.  Honestly, all I had hoped was that if I submitted an abstract they might remember my name when I apply for graduate school there, I didn’t actually think they were going to let me attend.

It took quite a bit of fund raising, since the INPC student budget didn’t have room to fund an undergrad, but I was determined and managed to find a way.  The conference was held from July 4th to July 10th on the beautiful UBC campus.  As a Denver native I was taken aback by the nature found in Vancouver, even just from flying over the city. It only got more impressive after we landed.  The conference began on a Sunday with opening ceremonies and a public lecture given by Dr. Lawrence Krauss, who gave a wonderful talk following an atom from its creation at the beginning of the universe all the way up to present day.

Monday and Tuesday were filled with fascinating plenary lectures and exhibits on topics covering the field of nuclear physics (honestly, many of the talks were over my head, since I am still an undergrad). On Monday and Tuesday evening the student poster sessions were held.  There were hundreds of student posters.  I presented my poster, “Proposed Construction and Modernization of a One Meter Radius Cyclotron”, on Tuesday evening. There were 174 posters in my session.

The poster session was so much fun. I talked to many fascinating people and learned a lot. I seemed to catch the eye of many people from TRIUMF (The Tri-University Meson Facility - though now they have many more universities involved) who were excited about my project to build a small-scale cyclotron. By the end of the night I had found out that I was picked as one of eight student finalists of that night’s session and I had a possible investor for my project!

Wednesday opened with a few talks and then we were free for the afternoon.  Since I was not able to find any room for spending money in my hasty fund raising budget, I spent the day walking around the UBC campus.  It was just beautiful.  I saw two bald eagles, three types of squirrels, and so many different types of trees that I could hardly believe it.  The campus is on an area of endowment land and stretches out into a part of the ocean which is protected by Vancouver Island.

Thursday opened as usual with some fascinating talks. At eleven o’clock the judges went through the posters of the student finalists to determine the top four winners. As one could imagine, my stomach was in a knot. To calm the students, there were some special talks given just for students on lecture techniques and a free lunch. The winners were announced on Friday.  I was not chosen, but I had not even expected to be let into the conference, so I was just happy to be there in the first place.

Friday was the day I had been looking forward to the most. This was the day we were given a guided tour of TRIUMF, home of the world’s largest cyclotron. It was an amazing facility and for me, was the highlight of an amazing trip! The tour took most of the day and was absolutely fascinating.  I got to stand on the 18-meter cyclotron and watch a paper clip move with the magnetic field lines as we walked on top of the cyclotron.  I even found the research group I want to join during graduate school.

Before I knew it, it was already Saturday morning and time to catch my flight back to Denver.  I was very sad to leave such a wonderful place with such wonderful people, but I had to get back since I had missed a full week of my summer classes. What an amazing trip!

The next International Nuclear Physics Conference is going to be held in Italy in 2013, and I highly recommend going. For images, abstracts, and posters from the 2010 conference, visit http://inpc2010.triumf.ca/index.html .

SPS Reporter Program
SPS national sends student reporters to most major AIP Member Society meetings, where they are treated like other members of the press. Many ambitious student reporters succeed in securing interviews with society leadership and prominent invited speakers on such occasions.

SPS Travel Awards
A limited number of grants, on the order of $200 each, are offered to help fund SPS members' travel to national meetings of AIP Member Societies holding a "SPS Session" co-organized by SPS and the Member Society.

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