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For the third time in eight years, the University of Northern Iowa chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) has been recognized as a top-tier institution by the SPS National Office. UNI SPS won an Outstanding Chapter Award, a designation the SPS gives to fewer than 15% of all SPS chapters at colleges and universities in the U.S. and internationally.

"Being the president of this club for the past two years has been an honor, and it has been rewarding to see the tremendous growth within the department in such a short amount of time," said senior physics and physics education double major Taylor Harris, president of the student group. "The Outstanding Chapter Award is the highest distinction that an SPS chapter can earn. This award is highly rewarding knowing that our efforts to create an organization that promotes inclusivity, connection and professional growth is not going unseen."

UNI’s chapter first received this honor in 2013. Harris became president of UNI SPS in the fall of 2018 after it had been inactive for several years and helped renew interest in the group.

"During the spring semester of 2018, there was no active physics club or any sort of organization to get students involved within the department. Myself along with a fellow student, Joseph Tibbs, created a mission to revitalize the club," Harris said. "We have grown the group into an organized club that holds general meetings, promotes colloquia, offers opportunities to travel to national laboratories and conferences and hosts fundraisers.”

The SPS is a professional association designed for students, and membership is open to anyone interested in physics and related fields. SPS operates within the American Institute of Physics (AIP), an umbrella organization for professional physical science societies. SPS chapters are evaluated on their level of interaction with the campus community, the professional physics community, the public and with SPS national programs.

The Outstanding Chapter Award 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.”