News Story

Physics Students Recognized for Fostering a Robust, Inclusive Community

The Georgetown University Society of Physics Students (SPS) was recently recognized as an Outstanding Chapter by its parent organization, the American Institute of Physics. The student-run club received a distinction obtained by fewer than 10% of the more than 820 SPS chapters across the country. Worthy SPS chapters were identified based on several criteria, including student recruitment and retention, outreach and community service. 

“We’ve had a great group of students running the SPS for the past few years, and they’ve accomplished a lot,” says Ed Van Keuren, a physics professor and adviser to the group. “We are a close-knit department and the SPS has been instrumental in helping us build a sense of community among students, staff and faculty, especially during the pandemic when a lot of our interactions were online. “I’m especially proud of their efforts in social justice and in making our department a welcoming place for everyone.”

For Georgetown SPS, the award recognizes the efforts undertaken by students to create a community by and for physics students during the 2020-2021 academic year. Notable events include a t-shirt fundraiser that benefitted Georgetown Mutual Aid, career events, peer advising, virtual study breaks and even a Dungeons and Dragons campaign.

“We aim to create a physics community on Georgetown’s campus through career-focused events, such as a research symposium, and social events to connect students across grade levels,” says chapter president JoJo Farina (C’23). “Due to COVID, I felt like I didn’t really know people above my year. Now, when we host study events, upperclassmen, who have taken courses, can help underclassmen and facilitate a kind of mentor/mentee relationship.”

The research symposium hosted by the SPS allowed professors to showcase their research and connect with both underclassmen and upperclassmen. Especially exciting, according to Farina, was the opportunity for younger students who have largely been remote to learn about the kinds of physics research being done on Georgetown’s campus and how they can be involved.

Founded in 1968, the SPS is a professional association designed for physics students and their advisors, with membership open to anyone interested in physics, even those studying in fields such as astronomy or chemistry. The Georgetown SPS chapter is led by Farina, Vice President CeCe Ochoa (C’ 24), Vice President Sophie Taylor (C’ 24) and Treasurer Miles Reynolds (C’ 24). 

-by Hayden Frye (C’17)