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April 12, 2023

Physics Alumni Return for First In-person Reunion Since 2018

Don Smith

Guilford College Physics graduates have a tradition of building and sustaining a strong community. They start as students, helping each other with homework and experiments through late night study sessions, and they continue through their professional careers.  

Every two years, some of them return to campus, sharing experiences and inspiration with each other and current students. On March 24-25, about 30 Physics alumni gathered for an event organized by Professor Don Smith and Lisa Lee.

The last reunion in 2021 (postponed from March 2020) was forced online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so this was the first in-person gathering since 2018. Attendees represented graduation years from 1971-2021.  

Fourteen participants shared presentations on a diverse set of topics from particle collider research to "the Physics of Retirement.” Anthony Jordan '19 shared how he is using his Physics analytic and programming skills to organize and process millions of data sets about national real estate listings and Gordon Shepherd '71 told us about his ideas for Physics-based inventions to solve problems as diverse as oil spill cleanup and protecting houses from flooding.  

Participants explored the department rooms in the Frank Family Science Center, where current students shared their favorite projects and experiments with the visitors. Connor Potts '21 pulled out an apparatus to show other alumni how to use magnetic fields to shape the trajectory of a beam of electrons.  

Katie Gordon '05 gave the 19th Sheridan Simon lecture "Faith in the Future" on her experiences with interferometry in astronomical observing, and how current improvements will lead to advances in what we can observe and know about the distant universe.

Current students made valuable professional contacts, and alumni left feeling (to use a couple of Physics terms) both grounded and energized.