Rhodes College Society of Physics Students Recognized with National Award

Rhodes College students holding pumpkins
Each year, the Rhodes SPS chapter conducts the popular Pumpkin Drop, a scientific demonstration to measure the triboluminescence created when pumpkins, which are frozen solid in liquid nitrogen, are dropped from the roof of the six-story Rhodes Tower.

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

The Rhodes chapter is advised by Professor of Physics Dr. Brent Hoffmeister and is led by student officers Giuliana Hofheins ’22 and Olivia Kaufmann ’23, both physics majors.

“I am so proud of our SPS group,” says Hoffmeister. “Even with the significant challenges of the pandemic, they have been highly active sponsoring events on campus, such as our popular Halloween Pumpkin Drop, and promoting science education outreach to schools and organizations in Memphis like the Refugee Empowerment Program.”

“Our SPS chapter adapted quickly to the challenges of the pandemic,” adds Hofheins. “We have worked extremely hard to uphold our community and passion for science virtually through weekly chapter meetings, alumni panels, and guest speakers–not to mention presenting at regional meetings and receiving SPS national research grants.”

SPS Outstanding Chapter Awards are determined each academic year after a careful review of the information, photos, and supporting material presented in the annual SPS Chapter Reports. Chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public, and SPS national programs.
“Our chapter has received two national grants along with recognition as an outstanding chapter,” says  Kaufmann. “One grant, the Chapter Research Award, will be used to continue work in the Rhodes CubeSat program, specifically for the development of a sun sensor. A second grant, the Marsh P. White Award, is given to chapters with new and unique outreach projects. The Marsh White award will allow us to have a large outreach event to generate interest in physics and science within underrepresented groups in the sciences. We are excited to put these grants to use as we continue to maintain an active and robust chapter.”