The physics department took 16 physics students to the University of Rochester for the 32nd annual Rochester Symposium for Physics Students event Saturday, April 6. The R.S.P.S. is hosted by the University of Rochester’s Department of Physics and Astronomy. Three Houghton College students presented posters, and six gave oral presentations on their undergraduate theses.
The symposium is an opportunity for undergraduate physics students throughout the region to learn from their peers and professors as they present their research in a professional setting. Research topics included astronomy, atomic physics and optics, biological physics, computational physics, condensed-matter physics, educational physics, instrumentation and techniques, and particle and nuclear physics. The R.S.P.S. published abstracts of participants’ papers, which were distributed to the students after the symposium. The symposium is modeled after professional scientific society events.
Says Josh Mertzlufft ’13, “The symposium provided an excellent chance to present the research progress made by our teams as well as learn about the types of research happening in physics departments across the region.”
The R.S.P.S. is a northeast regional conference in operation since 1981 for undergraduates. It is customarily hosted during the latter half of the spring semester. The purpose is to prepare upcoming graduates for professional research and presentation.
Physics/earth science department chair and physics professor Dr. Mark Yuly takes students every year and emphasized the benefits of undergraduate research and presentation, with the consideration that much of scientific work in a professional setting consists of presenting research to peers.
“About 70% of our students go on to graduate school,” Yuly said, “and a big part of research is presenting your work.”
The Houghton College students who gave oral presentations at the R.S.P.S. spoke for 15 minutes on their physics theses which are the culmination of two years of research. After approval each senior thesis is bound and archived.
Houghton R.S.P.S attendees included Kyle Flemington, Joshua Mertzlufft, Jennifer Newcombe, Mark Spencer, Sean Daigler, Victoria Finch, Nicholas Fuller, Garrett Hartshaw, Ian Love, Keith Mann, Emily Morrow, Sylvia Morrow, David Richards, Tyler Reynolds, Colin Lauer, and Ethan Ocock.
Senior presenters included Joshua Mertzlufft speaking on “An Evaporation Deposition System for the In-Situ Study of Thin Metal Films,” Tyler Reynolds on “The Design and Construction of an Interferometer System for the Study of Thin Metal Films,” Colin Lauer on, “Building a Computer Cluster in Order to Simulate Dark Matter Interactions in Parallel,” Nicholas Fuller with “Exploring the Capabilities of the Houghton College Cyclotron,” Keith Mann on “Low activity Mössbauer Sources for Undergraduate Labs,” and lastly Mark Spencer on the “Refurbishment of the Houghton College Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (STEM). Dave Richards, Emily Morrow, and Garrett Hartshaw presented posters.
Reflects Mertzlufft, "It shows how far the senior physics majors have come in four years that we are now able to give casual presentations on cutting-edge research topics such as nanotechnology and dark matter."