2015 AIP Grad School Shopper

The American Institute of Physics has released the 2015 edition of its Grad School Shopper online resource. The print directory 2015 Graduate Programs in Physics, Astronomy, and Related Fields will be mailed to our SPS chapter soon.  Meanwhile, students considering pursuing advanced degrees are welcome to browse grad schools on the online site at www.GradSchoolShopper.com, and to explore related information and advice in the student resources area at students.gradschoolshopper.com.

October 20, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More

Who’s Hiring Physics Bachelors?

For those who may not know, the Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics has an excellent online database of organizations hiring physicists with bachelor degrees for each state in the U.S.:


This database was noted in a post to the SPS website last spring, but it was subsequently moved to the location indicated above.

The AIP-SRC website has a number of other interesting reports on trends in employment and training physics that are worth a look for anyone considering a career in physics or physics-related fields.

October 16, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More

Zone 8 Meeting Deadline Extended

The registration deadline has been extended until midnight Friday, October 17, for the Fall 2014 SPS Zone 8 meeting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on the weekend of Oct 31 – Nov 1. A flyer has been posted on the board outside the SPS room. Planned events include a career panel, grad school panel, student presentations/posters, lab tours, LN2 ice cream social, and Halloween costume contest. Guest speakers, one a Nobel laureate, will give talks on quantum mechanical applications and complex systems. Saturday lunch and dinner are included. Cost is $20/person.  Those interested should visit the meeting website to register before the deadline.

October 13, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More

TeachSpin Undergraduate Internships

TeachSpin Instruments is offering undergraduate internships for the upcoming winter term and the summer of 2015.  Physics majors who have completed at least two years of their program at a US institution are invited to apply.  Interns will be mentored by TeachSpin senior physicists (all of whom have taught the advanced lab) as they learn to use and test advanced physics lab equipment – important skills for future experimentalists.

TeachSpin will work with the academic advisor to meet any requirements for credit-hours available for this program, and will provide a certificate of completion.  For summer interns, there will also be a small honorarium.

Details of the program, applications, and fliers can all be downloaded from the TeachSpin internship web page. Application deadlines are November 15 for the three week Winter Internship and March 1, 2015 for the 7 – 8 week summer session.

Interested students should contact WKU’s Dr. Ed Kintzel, who can assist with letters of recommendation for applicants with a good academic record.

October 9, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More

Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics

The American Physical Society is sponsoring eight Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics early next year.  All are being held in parallel at different locations around the U.S. on the weekend of January 16-18, 2015.  Locations include

  • the North Carolina Research Triangle
  • Purdue University
  • Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey
  • the University of California at Santa Cruz
  • the University of Michigan
  • the University of Mississippi
  • the University of Texas at Brownsville
  • Yale University

Each meeting will feature presentations by guest speakers, panels on career opportunities, workshops on research and graduate school, tours of local facilities, and opportunities for attendees to present their own research.  Meals and lodging will be provided by the APS.  Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2014.  For more information, please see the CUWiP page on the APS website at http://www.aps.org/programs/women/workshops/cuwipapp.cfm.


October 9, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More

Career Opportunities at Air Force Research Laboratory

The Information Directorate of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is looking for outstanding researchers to address cutting-edge computing and communications problems vital to the nation’s security. AFRL is a basic and applied research laboratory that has been supporting the US Air Force for more than 60 years. The AFRL Information Directorate employs approximately 750 scientists and engineers, and is the Air Force’s center of expertise for R&D of command, control, communications, computers, intelligence (C4I) technologies. Work is conducted across a broad spectrum of technologies in areas such as information fusion, communications, modeling and simulation, and high performance and intelligence information systems. The laboratory is equipped with state-of-the-art resources in a number of dedicated facilities including a High-performance Computing Center which houses the DoD’s largest interactive supercomputer, an advanced RF Technology Center, Quantum Computing and Communication Labs, a SATCOM facility, and two large-scale outdoor antenna test ranges. Using these resources AFRL develops new ways to provide commanders with accurate, timely information.

Emphasis areas for open technical staff positions include high-performance and trusted computing hardware/software, quantum computers, nano and neuromorphic computers, advanced high-bandwidth adaptive digital communications, data link and waveform development, networking technologies, assured-access communications, satellite communications, and free-space optical communications including quantum key distribution. Members of the technical staff have diverse backgrounds including electrical & computer engineering, computer science, physics, and mathematics.

BS, MS, and PhD holders in these fields are sought. AFRL Information Directorate staff members have been at the forefront of information science and technology developments. Examples include basic and applied R&D in photonic quantum computing, multi-Gbps RF and optical communications, and networked communications for Unmanned Aerial Systems in contested environments. Staff members work on multi-disciplinary in-house teams. The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate depth in advanced computing and communications, via self-motivation and collaborative efforts. Located in upstate New York near Syracuse, the AFRL Information Directorate offers a suburban, four-season environment, super grade and high schools, and several nearby collaborating universities with outstanding reputations. We offer stable employment, a competitive salary, excellent government employee benefits, and a world-class professional working environment. For an overview see www.wpafb.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-131008-023.pdf or visit http://www.wpafb.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=17737.

US citizenship is required. Must be eligible for a security clearance. AFRL is an equal opportunity employer. If interested, please send your resume and cover letter to AFRL.RI.Career@us.af.mil.

October 9, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More


Today we had our first SPS meeting of the Fall 2014 semester.

1. Jelly Bean Universe Raffle

At the start of the meeting we announced the winner of our MASTER Plan jelly bean universe raffle. The winner of the raffle was Stefan Stryker.

2. SPS Picnic

We discussed possible dates for this semester’s SPS picnic. So far the most likely date is Saturday September 20, however we may push it to Saturday October 18.

3. Community Outreach

We have been considering the possibility of a community outreach program to help encourage children in the community to pursue their interests in science. Anyone interested in helping with outreach please SPS room to sign up.

4. Zone 8

There is a Zone 8 meeting coming up October 30th and 31st.  Zone 8 will be held at the University of Illinois this year. Anyone interested in attending the Zone 8 meeting should contact one of the SPS officers.

5. Women in Science

The women in science conference will be held in mid January in Indianapolis, IN. If anyone is interested in going please let us know.

September 9, 2014 Posted Under: Minutes   Read More

Physics Employers by State

The Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics has just posted a database of organizations hiring physicists with bachelor degrees for each state in the U.S.:


The SRC website has a number of other interesting reports on trends in employment and training in the field, if you have a little time to explore.

May 1, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More

2014 Departmental Award Winners

Each year the WKU Department of Physics and Astronomy recognizes three students who have excelled in areas of scholarship, research, and service.  The recipients of these awards for the 2013-2014 academic year are Jamey Yadon, Mary Spraggs, and Sam White.  These students will be recognized at the annual Ogden Student Awards ceremony on Sunday, April 27, at 2:00 PM at the Carroll Knicely Center.  Please join me in congratulating these students when you have an opportunity.

Dr. George V. and Sadie Skiles Page Award for Excellence in Scholarship*

Awarded to the graduating Physics major with the highest academic standing.

Jamey Lee Yadon

Jamey Yadon receives the Page Award for Excellence in Scholarship based upon his outstanding academic record while a student at WKU.  He will graduate this spring with majors in Physics and Religious Studies and a minor in Mathematics.  Jamey is a member of the WKU chapter of the national honor society for physics Sigma Pi Sigma and is active in the WKU Society of Physics Students.  After graduation Jamey plans to pursue a graduate degree at the Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

Dr. Randall Harper Award for Outstanding Research in Physics and Astronomy*

Awarded to the junior or senior student with research exhibiting significance, effort, originality, and creativity.

Mary Elizabeth Spraggs

Mary Spraggs, a junior physics major with a minor in astronomy, works with Dr. Steven Gibson as an undergraduate research assistant on Galactic radio astronomy.  Mary receives this award for her work on the properties of interstellar clouds of hydrogen gas that are cooling, condensing, and forming molecules as a first step toward the formation of new stars.  She has measured the temperature, density, and molecular content of clouds in our Galaxy using infrared data from the Planck cosmology satellite and several ground-based radio telescope spectral line surveys.  Mary has presented her work at multiple conferences, including the American Astronomical Society, the Southeast Section of the American Physical Society, and the Kentucky Academy of Science.  A graduate of the Gatton Academy, she has been an active participant in WKU’s Society of Physics Students, the Hilltopper Astronomy Club, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and physics tutoring, and she assists regularly with setting up low-frequency radio equipment at WKU’s Bell Observatory to monitor magnetospheric storms around the planet Jupiter.  Mary has accepted an NSF-REU internship this summer at MIT’s Haystack Observatory.

Dr. Douglas Humphrey Award for Outstanding Service*

Awarded to the junior or senior student with a record of service within the department and to science outreach to the community.

Samuel Thomas White

Sam White, a senior with majors in Physics and Chemistry, receives the Humphrey service award because of the overall good citizenship he portrays in his interactions with faculty and students in the department.  Most significantly Sam has been an outstanding Learning Assistant in our University Physics Laboratory since we began using student assistants in a revised curriculum a few years ago.  In this role, Sam goes above and beyond his expected duties and is a role model for new Learning Assistants coming into the program.  In addition, Sam has performed research in Chemistry under the supervision of Dr. Matthew Nee.  Sam’s latest work involves measurements of Raman spectra of solutions of nitrate ions.  His work is focused on obtaining a better understanding of the photolysis of the nitrate ion, which has important implications in snow chemistry.

*Award made through the efforts of the College Heights Foundation.

April 21, 2014 Posted Under: Announcement   Read More


1) The science olympiad is this saturday. If anyone is interested please contact Dr. Gelderman ASAP at richard [dot] gelderman [at] WKU [dot] edu. We are still in need of assistance for some of the classes, so if you are free please come help out.

2) Ballots are open for the SPS officer election. Please stop by the SPS sometime this week to cast your votes.

3) The SPS Banquet is scheduled for Friday May 9 at 6:00 pm and it will be at Cambridge Market.

4) The SPS will be conducting and outreach program at Lincoln Elementary School. Anyone interested in assisting at Lincoln Elementary should contact Dr. Gibson or one of the SPS officers ASAP.

5) The SPS is considering converting the Randall Harper Award for research in physics and astronomy to an academic scholarship for students that are Physics majors. Scholarship would be $1,000/yr. We will inform all students once we have finalized the conversion so they may begin applying for the scholarship.

April 9, 2014 Posted Under: Minutes   Read More