Eastern Michigan University
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Society of Physics Students

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association explicitly designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to anyone interested in physics, and provides access to national databases for research and job hunting.

The mission of the SPS is to help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community.

Dr. Dave Pawlowski is the current faculty advisor to SPS.

EMU’s Dr. Diane Jacobs is the national president of SPS’s honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma.

For more information click the links below.

During the Fall 2016 Semester, SPS meets at 11:00 every Tuesday in Strong 341.


This year, our officers are:

President-              Andrew Richardson
Vice-President-      Tyler Antinodes
Historian-               Parker Cruz
Secretary-              Brendan Pickard
Treasurer-              Ben Patterson


The Quadrennial Physics Congress is this November and EMU Physics will be there!

Several students will be attending this year's meeting.  If you would like to help to support student travel to this and future meetings, please consider making a donation to our Society of Physics Students chapter.  You can do so on our donation page.


Three students will be giving presentations:

Matt Burton, Senior, Engineering Physics Major

Mars’s atmosphere has changed drastically over time. Gases like H 2 O and correlationN 2 that used to be abundant have dissipated into space, so much so that the atmosphere is now only one percent as dense as Earth’s. This atmospheric loss has affected the climate and changed what used to be a warm, wet planet into one that is cold and dry. In November of 2013, NASA launched a spacecraft which started the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission [Jakosky et al., 2015]. The goal of this mission is to collect data from the upper atmosphere of Mars to better understand the processes that control it and the role the that atmospheric loss has played in the changing climate.

 The focus of this project is investigating the variability of the neutral atmosphere in response to changes in the solar radiation in the EUV spectrum. This will help in model constraints for the backwards extrapolation of atmospheric loss which is another primary goal of the MAVEN mission. Using density data from MAVEN’s Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer (NGIMS) and solar irradiance data from the Extreme Ultraviolet (EUV) monitor, the correlation between atmospheric density and irradiance is found for a year-long period. During this year-long period, there are two month-long periods corresponding to high solar activity where the correlation is noticeably stronger than elsewhere. These two periods are studied more in depth, adding a sensitivity calculation which measures how much the density changes for the change in irradiance. The objective of this presentation is to summarize the results of this analysis and the future direction of this research.


Blake Hendrix, Senior, Physics Research Major 

Plasma engines are used to adjust the motion of CubeSats in space. Most propulsion scientists would agree that the use of electromagnets is the most efficient way to direct the plasma. The problem is, magnetic nozzles require more energy than CubeSats can supply in certain circumstances. A more energy efficient design coulschematicd be to use mechanical nozzles or permanent magnet nozzles.

In order to compare the output thrust of mechanical nozzles versus magnetic nozzles, we have to first design an ideal mechanical nozzle. The most efficient form of mechanical nozzle is one with a converging section that flares out into a diverging section, called a De Laval Nozzle. The maximum thrust in this type of nozzle is achieved when the pressure at the nozzle exit, which can be controlled through lengthening and shortening the converging section, is equal to the ambient pressure around the nozzle. We have built several nozzles to determine the optimal length. Our next step will be to test the thrust from the nozzles and plot the thrust vs nozzle length to find the optimal length nozzle.


Jared Powell, Senior, Physics Research Major

Plasma, the fourth and most abundant state of matter, consists of ionized gas and free electrochamberns resulting in no net charge. The understanding of plasma has a broad range of applications, including but not limited to, space and astrophysics, atmospheric sciences, and industrial etching and cleaning. The goal of this research is to construct a vacuum system to conduct plasma experiments, primarily focusing on the radio communication problem that occurs with spacecraft reentering Earth’s atmosphere.  We will measure plasma instabilities to learn how plasma interacts with incoming radio signals and attempt to determine a technique to reduce or eliminate the signal attenuation that occurs.



The Department of Physics & Astronomy is part of the College of Arts & Sciences, 214 Pray-Harrold, 734.487.4344