McMaster undergraduates win nine awards at physics conference

The Departments of Physics & Astronomy, Engineering Physics and Medical Physics just co-hosted the 2013 Canadian Undergraduate Physics Conference (CUPC).

This annual conference is the largest undergraduate non-profit physics conference in North America. It provides undergraduate students with the opportunity to share their research experiences with their peers and explore the various study areas in physics.

The CUPC consisted of student talks and a poster session, plenary lectures by distinguished physicists, lab tours, a graduate fair, and multiple social events. This year some of these social events included trips to Dundurn Castle, the Hamilton Steam Museum and Webster’s Falls.

One major focus of the CUPC is to expose students to the multiple avenues that are available to them for further study in physics.

Student talks were organized into multiple categories, ranging from medical and biological physics to astrophysics, with awards given to the best orators in each category.

There were eight different talk sections and a poster session. A total of 27 awards were distributed to the top three students in each section. McMaster students walked away with 9 awards.

The talk winners were:

First place in the area Astrophysics: Heather O’Halloran

First place in the area of Quantum Condensed Matter: Miles Couchman

First place in the area of Biophysics/Soft Matter: Hannah Dies

First place in the area of Medical Physics: Peter Hoang

Second place in the area of Particle/Nuclear Physics: Benjamin Davis-Purcell

Second place in the area of Biophysics/Soft Matter: Sean Ridout

Second place in the area of Geophysics: Nikolas Gazo

Third place in the area of Engineering/Applied Physics: Jason Munro

And for the poster session:

Third place overall poster: Obaidullah Khan

Since its inception in 1965, the CUPC has always been a student initiative, with the conference planning being carried out by a committee of undergraduate students at the host university. Fourth year Honours Math and Physics student Michael Birch chaired the 2013 CUPC organizing committee at McMaster and, along with a group of dedicated classmates, organized the conference from start to finish.

This year, over 160 students from across the country (and two from Hong Kong) arrived in Hamilton on Thursday, October 17th for this four-day CUPC. On Saturday, October 19th students visited McMaster campus for student talks, tours of McMaster’s impressive research facilities, a Planetarium show, an Origins’ 3D Theatre show, a Nuclear Reactor tour and a delicious lunch at The Phoenix.

The conference culminated on Sunday, October 20th with a banquet dinner at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Hamilton and a plenary lecture by Dr. David Griffiths. Dr. Griffiths is a celebrity within the undergraduate physics community, having written incredibly popular and widely used undergraduate textbooks in both Quantum Mechanics and Electrodynamics. Excited students lined up for autographs and pictures.

Congratulations to all the winners and to the dedicated 2013 CUPC organizing committee.