Upon arriving at Stony Brook, I for one was surprised to find that there was no club or organization for physics graduate students. There is a Society of Physics Students for undergraduates, but considering the large size of the graduate program (~200 students) I was surprised to find that something that small Mississippi State University’s physics department had was totally lacking at such a large institution.
Unfortunately I was immediately slammed with coursework and was unable to really look into the issue more, until recently when things have begun to slow down. Deval Mehta and I shared an office for most of a year and would regularly talk about all sorts of things, one of which being the lack of an organization to represent and bring together physics graduate students. At a general meeting to discuss changes to the comprehensive exams some time in November of 2016 it became very clear that many students have very strong feelings about a large number of things going on, or not going on, in the department, the school, and the broader world. At that meeting I helped pitch the idea for a Physics Graduate Student Association (PGSA), loosely based off of what I was familiar with from Mississippi State, and took signatures from everyone interested in the idea.
Deval and I, and quite a few others, then worked to plan out potential activities, committees, and other focuses of the PGSA and began the process of starting an official student club with Stony Brook University. Deval struck up a draft constitution and a number of us had a great time working out the details and pushing the ball forward. At the same time Niveditha Ramasubramanian started back up a grad student talks series (GRADTALKS), and the quality of life committee for the department started a daily teatime, which has seen great success fostering community amongst people who otherwise often go large amounts of time without seeing each other. We finally got our constitution accepted by the university on April 25th and immediately jumped to kick-start our organization.
We have just had our inaugural general body meeting on May 4th, which reached a great number of interested students and finally opened the doors for anyone and everyone to come with suggestions and join together as we strive to make the most out of our time in graduate school. I am honored that everyone who was able to come out really took the time to listen to us and were so openly supportive of our goals, and I am very thankful to everyone who helped in the idea-tossing and formation stages of the organization. Special thanks of course goes to Deval Mehta, without whose tireless work none of this would have happened – I hope that he meets with similar success as he moves from graduate school onto new and exciting things.
I will be running for the position of president for the 2017-2018 school year, and I hope that all of the members of the department will accept my request and help me to best represent and lead the physics graduate students at Stony Brook as we carry this new organization forward.
If you are interested in connecting with our organization for any reason, you can find out more and get in contact with us at any of our online presences:
- Website: http://grad.physics.sunysb.edu/PGSA/
- Twitter: @sbu_pgsa
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Facebook: facebook.com/sbupgsa/
- SBLife: stonybrook.collegiatelink.net/organization/PGSA (please register yourself for our organization so that the university properly recognizes our size and allocates us appropriate funding)