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USciences Physics Students Attend PhysCon in San Francisco

Students from USciences’ Society of Physics Students (SPS) traveled to San Francisco, Calif. in November 2016 for PhysCon, the quadrennial physics conference held by the National Society of Physics Students.

From Left to Right: Caitlyn McConnell, Oberon Wackwitz, Mia Vega, Katee O'Malley, Luke Conover toured San Francisco during PhysCon.

During the trip the group attended the conference, hearing from Dr. S. James Gates, a theoretical physicist known for his work in supersymmetry, who recently won the National Medal of Science for his outstanding contributions to the field of physics, and Nobel Laureate Dr. Eric Cornell. Additionally, the students participated in workshops and presented research.

“It was great to be surrounded by 1,000 physics majors who all have different ambitions within the field,” said Katee O’Malley Phys’17.

In addition to O’Malley, Caitlyn McConnell BMS’18, Phys’18, Mia Vega Phys’19, Oberon Wackwitz Phys’17, and Luke Conover Phys’17 attended the conference representing USciences and said that the experience was eye opening and fun.

“I walked away feeling empowered,” said McConnell. “It doesn’t matter who you are, you are capable of accomplishing anything.”

The students also visited the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a two-mile long national accelerator laboratory, which has been integral to many astounding discoveries in physics.

From Left to Right: Mia Vega, Caitlyn McConnell, Oberon Wackwitz, Katee O'Malley, and Luke Conover toured the SLAC laboratory.

Vega, who is unsure about what path she wants to take upon graduation, said the best part was a workshop about the career opportunities for individuals graduating with a bachelor’s degree in physics. She said it helped her recognize different job opportunities in industry, higher education, and teaching.  Vega presented at the conference on behalf of the group about the outreach that USciecnes’ SPS has done to encourage young women to pursue STEM fields.

“At the conference I saw that most schools do not have the same diversity that I see every day at USciences,” said Vega. “I am now more inspired to help create safe spaces for physics students because it is important that every young physicist, despite their skin color or sex know how valuable they are.”

Before returning to Philadelphia, the group fit in some sightseeing as well, visiting Fisherman’s Warf, Pier 39, and the Golden Gate Bridge.


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