Published: Jan. 29, 2024 By

Students listening to a research talk at the Society of Physics Students meetingThe CU Boulder Society of Physics Students chapter has received a 2022-2023 Distinguished Chapter Award from the National Society of Physics Students organization. The award recognizes chapters for efforts including outreach, participation in community service, social events, interactions with alumni, and involvement in SPS programs.

The CU Boulder SPS chapter has been active for many years, providing community for undergraduate students interested in physics. Since the COVID pandemic, significant effort has been made to reestablish the group and build back the sense of community with more in-person activities.

Physics majors Alex Fix and Ellie Gentry served as SPS co-presidents during the 2022-2023 academic year, and Luke Coffman and Owen Grimes are serving as co-presidents this year. Keith Ulmer, associate professor of physics, serves as faculty advisor to the CU Boulder SPS chapter. 

Together they have continued the tradition of weekly Wednesday night meetings with free pizza, but they also expanded into hosting a variety of events. Last year, the group held a Physics Phormal, several research and industry talks, an industry career panel, and they co-hosted the Physics Pumpkin Drop with several other student groups. They also organized an induction to the physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma in Spring 2023. Looking forward, the group plans to offer an industry tour, host additional research talks, and they will put more emphasis on community outreach.

Society of Physics Students pictured in costume at the Pumpkin Drop“I think like most people I went to my first SPS meeting due to the allure of free pizza and having a couple friends already being members,” said Luke Coffman, physics major and current SPS co-president. He added “however, I soon found myself in the company of students who had a genuine interest in physics and shared similar hobbies and interests as me.” 

Student groups like SPS do more than just foster community, they also strengthen leadership skills for the group’s leaders. “I’ve learned so much as a leader by working with my co-leaders and running meetings,” said Ellie Gentry. Owen Grimes added “being able to serve our physics community has been truly rewarding, and something I will always remember fondly.” 

“SPS has been a large part of my physics career since I came to Boulder. I’m thrilled with how much the club has grown and that more students are able to benefit from it like I have,” said last year’s co-president Alex Fix. 

For more information on CU Boulder’s Society of Physics Students Chapter, join their email list or Discord, or follow them on Instagram (@CUBoulderSPS).