Twenty Grove City College Physics Club members and two professors will travel to San Francisco on Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016 to attend the Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Physics Congress, better known as PhysCon.
More than 1,100 attendees from around the world are set to attend the once-every-four-years meeting of the national physics honorary society, where they will hear high-profile speakers, tour cutting-edge laboratory facilities and participate in interactive workshops.
Grove City College professor of physics Dr. DJ Wagner, who serves as president of the national Society of Physics Students and advisor to the campus chapter, says PhysCon is “awesome on so many levels.”
Students have the chance to hear high-profile speakers deliver engaging presentations tailored to undergraduate physics students and interact with leading scientists. Attendees get to participate in engaging discussions and activities at workshops that help them think about science outside of the classroom and focus on careers and community. They also can take advantage of exciting tours of significant research facilities in the greater San Francisco area.
This year, nine Grove City College students will present posters of their research and four others will serve as chapter reporters for Society of Physics Students national publications.
Wagner is the driving force behind the College sending a contingent of students to PhysCon. Wagner has attended the event faithfully since 2004, when she and a single student travelled to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“I found that several chapters had attended en masse,” Wagner said. “As I realized how amazing the conference was, I thought, ‘I am bringing a busload of students to the next one!’ So I did.” She and other faculty members brought more than two dozen students to each of the next two PhysCons in 2008 and 2012. Dr. Glenn Marsch is also accompanying the group this year, as he did to the last two.
Paying for the trip is a challenge that the Physics Club has met in many ways. Their four-year effort includes a “rent a student” fundraiser in which physics students volunteer to do odd jobs for faculty and community members in exchange for a donation to the club. They’ve raked leaves, tutored, painted, cleaned, designed web pages, moved a piano, chopped firewood, and dug up rocks.
They’ve also benefited from donations from alumni and businesses where physics students intern, grants from the national Society of Physics Students, partnering with local restaurants for fundraisers, support from the College’s Department of Physics, and the Swezey Fund for Scientific Instrumentation and Research, which funds research and more at Grove City College.
For more about the Department of Physics at Grove City College, visit www.gcc.edu/phys.