Duke Physics Students Win National Recognition

Group photo
The Duke chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) hosted the 2023 meeting of chapters from across the Carolinas. (Courtesy of Duke's SPS chapter)

The Duke chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has won an Outstanding Chapter Award from the SPS National Office. This designation is given to fewer than 10 percent of all SPS chapters at colleges and universities in the United States and internationally.

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association designed for students and membership is open to anyone interested in physics and related fields. SPS operates within the American Institute of Physics (AIP), an umbrella organization for professional physical science societies.

The SPS chapter at Duke is advised by Natalie Klco, assistant professor of Physics, and is led by student officers. The 2022-2023 officers were:

  • Pavani Jairam, T'23, major in Physics and minor in Computer Sciences
  • Brandon Weiss, T’23, double major in Physics and Mathematics, minor in Computer Sciences
  • Ricardo Mendez, T’23, double major in Physics and Mathematics
  • Pranav Charvu, T'23 major in Physics, double minor in Computer Sciences and Philosophy
  • Dennis Wu, T'25, double major in Physics and Mathematics
  • Becky Ball, T’25, major in Mathematics, minor in Spanish

"This outstanding chapter award is a testament to the thoughtful leadership and scientific passion radiated by this group of young physicists,” said Klco. “While the value of their activity is clear in our community, it is heartening to see their strength nationally recognized."

SPS chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public and with SPS national programs. The Outstanding Chapter Award recognizes high levels of outreach as well as unique approaches to fulfilling the mission of SPS to “help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community.”

Some of the activities led by the 2022-2023 Duke SPS chapter include community building social events with students from other chapters across the Triangle, lectures and a graduate student-led panel on the graduate school application process. Moreover, the chapter hosted the 2023 meeting of SPS’ Zone 5 chapters, which include all chapters across the Carolinas.

“We are very honored to receive this distinction,” said Dennis Wu, T’ 25 and current SPS student officer. “It’s a designation that we earned by putting time and effort into building our small but close physics community. With this momentum, we are hopeful and enthusiastic about embarking on new projects, fostering more engaging learning experiences at Duke and making meaningful contributions to the field of physics.”