Bridgewater State University’s Department of Physics is already garnering attention for innovative photonics and optical engineering programming. Now, a student organization has earned international recognition.
BSU’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students won an Outstanding Chapter Award from SPS. Less than 15 percent of the more than 800 chapters worldwide received the designation.
“I feel that our chapter of SPS is an extension of our physics department, and our success as student leaders is a direct reflection of the success of the department as a whole,” said Rydia Hayes-Huer, ’20, the chapter’s president.
The award, which is for the 2018-2019 school year, recognizes interaction with the campus community, professional physics community, public and SPS national programs.
It’s important for people “to know they can study things like physics and astronomy and also know it’s a lot of fun,” said Sarah Auriemma, ’20, the chapter’s vice president.
Sarah once didn’t think studying physics was an option for her. Now majoring in the field, Sarah aims to ensure no one else feels the same way.
Students help run public nights at BSU’s observatory and showcase experiments for throngs of kids who visit campus for the annual Open Lab Night.
The recognition reflects their hard work, said Dr. Thaya Paramanathan, an assistant professor of physics and co-adviser of the chapter with Dr. Ed Deveney.
“It’s huge,” Paramanathan said of the award and the chapter’s efforts. “New students see these guys active and they want to have fun. It’s not just learning; it’s having fun with learning.”
In addition to outreach, the chapter organizes a physics speaker series, participates in campus events such as Relay for Life, fundraises to send students to conferences and hosts GRE test preparation activities.
“I hope our chapter continues to grow and make an impact,” Rydia said. “We had a lot of exciting moments in the physics department this semester, and SPS is a great opportunity for students to get involved and see the fun and potential of studying physics and other fields in STEM.”
The chapter demonstrates how welcoming the BSU physics community is and how willing students are to help their peers.
“We are like a family. We want everyone to succeed,” Sarah said. “I really am thankful for that. … I wouldn’t have gotten this far without it.”
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