Student Physics Society chapter opens at Mercyhurst

This year, Mercyhurst has been getting Physical.

After re-introducing a Physics major at the beginning of this year, ending a 20-year absence of the major, the University now also officially houses a chapter of the Society of Physics Students, an organization of the American Institute of Physics.

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association explicitly designed for students with over 700 chapters on college campuses. It exists in order to “help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community,” as well as to assist students of physics in learning how to present “scholarly work in professional meetings and journals, and outreach services to the campus and local communities,” according to the SPS website.

SPS also has Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society, which elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement. Mercyhurst Society of Physics Students club will host its first installation ceremony Friday, April 24, where they will induct six members into the Sigma Pi Sigma.

Paul Ashcraft, a professor in the Physics department, is the adviser for the SPS chapter at Mercyhurst, and expressed his excitement to get students more involved in the wide range of subjects that the field of physics covers.

“Physics deals with not only the study of matter and energy, the cosmos and universe, but it also deals with the abstract: big things and small things,” Ashraft said.

The club, which consists of roughly 15 members, currently meets once a month. Students use the meetings as a chance to perform experiments and socialize.

Minh Tran, a junior Physics and Mathematics major, is enthusiastic about the reemergence of interest in Physics at Mercyhurst.

“[Physicists] have the ability to question the world’s mysteries by looking at very ordinary phenomena and to ingeniously create a system of thinking to answer those questions,” Tran said in an email to The Merciad. “To many people physics and mathematics are difficult subjects, preventing people from going further into the fields. However, I see that the greatest beauty worth striving for is the one that requires a lot of difficult tasks.”

Tran was inducted into SPS earlier this month and said he is glad to have the opportunity to work with other students who share a similar passion.

“Like many other fields, it is daunting to work alone, so one usually seeks for the community with the same purpose so one can have access to richer sources of help and opportunities,” said Tran.

“It is good to know that you are not alone and that there are many other people who are also struggling, perhaps with even harder problems, for the same goal of gaining knowledge and understanding.”

The club hopes to elect officers soon and recruit more members. The club would also like to begin an outreach program where they will go into the community and demonstrate all of the fun things about physics to youngsters and other school age children, according to Ashcraft.