IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Niloofar Jokar (IAPS Events Manager)

Here’s the latest in the series of EC Interviews – the jIAPS Editor-in-Chief challenged themselves to interview all of the EC members before the end of the year. This one was completed on time, but we’ve only just got around to uploading it. 

This time, it is the turn of Niloofar, the IAPS Events Manager, to be interviewed:

What are you currently studying?

I’ve just graduated from my Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Astroparticle Physics subdivision, at Isfahan University of Technology in Iran. I’m looking for the next step for graduate studies and considering options for PhD.

What does your role as IAPS Events Manager involve?

My main task is to supervise, maintain and assure that all events are completed successfully, and to support every Organising Committee (OC) along the way on behalf of the EC. This may sound cringy, but it often feels like a motherhood experience where you feel equally and deeply responsible for every single detail about each event as if it’s your child but you also believe in the OCs, respecting them to thrive freely and have their own creativity towards a successful event. To state the obvious, the events IAPS organises would not be as great without their amazingly dedicated and skilled OCs. The role of the Events Manager is to be present in the background, providing support and guidance, and making sure that everything is going well.

Every single IAPS event is close to my heart – I want to be available 24/7 to them. It doesn’t matter whether they have an IT or a financial issue, or if a hotel is not going along with the room bookings, it is my responsibility to jump in. The Events Manager also has the knowledge and connections to direct the OCs to more skilled people in a particular area.

Which events have you supported this year?

ICPS 2023 (International Conference for Physics Students), PLANCKS 2023 (Physics League Across Numerous Countries for Kick-ass Students), IPT 2023 (International Physicists’ Tournament) – they are the main ones, the major ones in 2023. I also joined IAPS4Materials and represented IAPS at the ‘Women of the World in Physics!’ Event, the second edition of which will be jointly organized by IAPS. There are also the events from the previous year which I have a smaller contribution to, completing the final steps of PLANCKS 2022 and ICPS 2022. Then, we are continuing the process for PLANCKS 2024 and ICPS 2024.

What is your favourite event that you have supported as IAPS Events Manager?

That is like asking which is my favourite child – once again all of the events are close to my heart. I got to experience PLANCKS 2023 in person and it was amazing. I’m also looking forward to ICPS 2023. All of the events are great!

At PLANCKS 2023, you had to introduce IAPS at the Opening Ceremony. Do you enjoy the public speaking element to being IAPS Events Manager?

In IAPS, the community is always friendly and warm, making you forget about the worries of a big stage. So since the beginning I found any presentation very comfortable and enjoyable, which is honestly the best practice for soft skills improvement. As soon as I stand up to speak, it feels like talking to a big group of friends!

What are some of the biggest obstacles of supporting events?

This is completely different with smaller events and major ones. With major events, these are big projects, and you have a team of very dedicated people involved for two years. As the time gets closer to the event, the pressure becomes really high. The role of the IAPS Events Manager is to dial down the pressure and by clear guidance make sure that the OC feels supported. As for minor events, I would say an obstacle is to maintain consistency as these events must take place more frequently. For these OCs, members are expected to remain in the project in a shorter period of time. This means a totally new OC composition is required for the next edition in only a few months. So once the project is over, finding a new OC and transferring the knowledge may be a bit challenging.

Who do you have to work closely with in your role as Events Manager – both on the IAPS EC (Executive Committee) and beyond it?

Outside of the EC and before the OCs, the Events Secretary is the main one, aware of the details of the job obviously as the main source of assistance for the Events Manager; however, the IAPS Events Manager is connected to almost all areas of IAPS and you have to remain in really close contact with everyone involved. I’d have to name all the EC members… Who do I have to work most closely with on the EC? I’d say Cyrus (President), Mario (Treasurer) and Gabriel (Vice-President and Recruitment Officer). 

On the management side, I have to keep in contact with the president(s) of each OC. There were times when we had meetings with the OC of a major event which lasted two or three hours – these meetings were long but a blessing and absolutely essential. The details of the event become very important. You have to work long hours for these meetings and it may seem really strange, but I suppose that’s the side of the story unseen by many. From these long meetings, you sometimes feel closer and attached to that event even more than you already have, which is a beautiful experience on its own.

I’ve just thought of another question from that answer – approximately how many people have you become in close contact with through being IAPS Events Manager that you wouldn’t have spoken to otherwise?

How many? Many, many people… I don’t think I can put an accurate number on it. I’ll go with fifty or more, regarding people I’ve worked with directly – and maybe twenty people I have been contacting as a weekly routine and know well – but I’m sure it’s more than that. These are the people I’ve spoken to regularly. 

What skills do you need to become IAPS Events Manager?

You need a complete set of skills! The most important is perhaps time management – you have a lot of tasks and ongoing projects, as well as projects which have already happened and those upcoming events. The workload is no joke. Also, the ability to communicate with different OCs – each is from a different country, with a different culture which is very exciting; they are truly international. It can be a challenge to choose the pace each OC feels comfortable to go with while securing the success of the tasks; so you definitely need communication skills and time management on top of everything else.

How can IAPS members get involved with organising events?

It’s very simple: just drop an email to If you have a brand new idea for an event, we’d love to hear from you. The EC is there to guide you, as the organising committee of an event, and to provide support for you, so you can learn step-by-step as you organise the event. Organising events may seem scary from the outside, but the EC is very supportive and can show you the way. You shouldn’t be hesitant about contacting us – whatever idea you have within IAPS context, we’ll find a place for it!

How have you found the experience of being part of the IAPS EC?

It has been quite a challenging experience for me this year. There have been some environmental difficulties in my country which have provided some serious challenges and affected my work pace as well. But even though this happened to me on a personal level,… how can I phrase it? IAPS is more than an association. I have gained friends for life. I am grateful for the support of my fellow EC members. I’ve learnt lots of lessons and definitely enjoyed this experience. This is more than a community; it is like a family. You are involved in so many things for such a long time, it really helps to form unbreakable bonds. Having such valuable friendships touches upon personal development as well.

What has been one of your best moments as part of the IAPS EC this year?

The ending of the Mulhouse meeting* – it was the first time we had all met each other. By the end of the meeting, we really felt like a team, gathered together and backing each other up. When you’ve been working for a year together and only meeting through the screen, it’s hard to create the human element of the community. Meeting in person was amazing. 

*You mentioned the Mulhouse meeting. Can you summarise what this is?

Sure! IAPS as an association has its official seat in Mulhouse, France, where the headquarters of the European Physical Society (EPS) is located. The Mulhouse meeting is a memorable and important time of the year when the respective IAPS EC of the term gather from all around the world to meet in person in the headquarters of EPS, in order to have constructive discussions over the work plan of the term and much more. It usually happens a few months into the EC term, around December.
In a nutshell, it means about a week of highly intense and productive meetings in Mulhouse, nice IAPS stickers EVERYWHERE, accompanied by even nicer people but very bad weather, ending it all with a wholesome EC photo in IAPS t-shirts (no jackets on!), in -1 °C outdoors in front of the EPS building, questioning your life decisions – things we do for IAPS!

The bids for PLANCKS 2025 and ICPS 2025 are currently open. Can you summarise why people should bid to be the organisers of one of these events?

In a nutshell, it’s awesome. Both are very huge projects. The process takes two years, plus the aftermath. At the end of the day, it leaves you with a very valuable experience. The result of your work is something which people, as participants of the event, remember for a long time. On the surface, it is just a conference or a competition, but it’s actually a life-changing experience – I’m not exaggerating here. These are actual words we’ve received from participants. It’s that beautiful. You as an organiser of these events get a chance to gain and create awesome experiences for physics students around the world, and an amazing time for everyone.

The interview concluded with reminiscences of previous IAPS events.

Interviews jIAPS

Interview with Marisol Castellanos and Anna Christoforidou

The jIAPS Editor-in-Chief is continuing to interview the 2022-23 EC – they have nearly reached the end, both in terms of the EC members to be interviewed and of their time as jIAPS Editor-in-Chief! This time, we have combined two interviews into one so you get two-for-the-price-of-one. Enjoy reading the interview.

What are you currently studying?
Anna (IAPS Outreach Officer): I’m currently in my last year of Bachelor studies at the Physics Department of the University of Athens. My special interests include (but are not limited to) Photonics, Plasmonics and Biophysics. My thesis on Computational Electromagnetics is titled: ‘A Comparative FDTD/Analytical Theory Study of EM Wave Propagation in Dielectric, ENZ and Plasmonic Media’.
Marisol (IAPS PR Manager): I finished my Bachelor degree of physics at the Physics Department of the University of San Carlos de Guatemala. My main interests are Complex systems, Biophysics and Computational Neuroscience.

What does your role involve?
Marisol: The PR manager is responsible for overseeing the outward look of the association, managing its public voice and promoting important information to the members. They actively manage social media and run advertising campaigns on different topics, while promoting inclusivity. Additionally, they handle the creation, design, and distribution of advertising materials such as flyers and brochures. They also manage the merchandise store. They work closely with jIAPS to publish the IAPS magazine annually and support the IT manager in website management.
Anna: Apart from organizing and supervising School Day and IDL activities/events as well as reviewing and approving the outreach grant proposals, the role of the outreach manager is being unfolded mostly behind the scenes. Having weekly meetings with various associations, organizations and outreach initiative projects, takes up most of my time as an outreach manager. The goal is to get to know people in the outreach fields, connect them with IAPS and brainstorm accordingly to create collaborative projects. So even if 20-30% of those meetings turn out to become a direct outreach project, all of them are a different learning experience.

What is your favorite part of your role?
Anna: The aforementioned meetings are definitely my favorite part of my role. More specifically, getting to know and interact with different personalities with a common passion for outreach. One of the most emotional experiences was getting to know the Pakistanee Professors Dr. Anisa Qamar and her colleagues, who are organizing the International Young Physicist Tournament (IYPT) 2023 for the first time in Pakistan. These women are real fighters in the science communication field against all obstacles, they truly inspired me. Another example that comes immediately to mind, is the opportunity to connect with Dr. Pranoti Kshirsagar and The Science Talk project. A YouTube channel owner, podcast creator, invited speaker to conferences and workshops, scientific blogger and of course an active researcher, she does most of her work voluntarily with the goal of helping fellow scientists communicate their work better. A humble and giving person to the core, Pranoti has become a mentor to me, we are having meetings regularly and the collaborative ideas are many to date.
Marisol: My favorite part was being able to express the message we wanted to convey in each post or activity through art and design. Art is a voice that doesn’t need to speak. I enjoyed including everyone, and that was reflected in the posts and campaigns we created, such as Women in Physics.

Can you give one top tip for applying to become part of the EC?
Anna: Give as much thought to your letter of candidacy as to your CV. A strong CV is nothing if not supported by an organized and realistic letter of candidacy.
Marisol: One top tip for applying to become part of the EC is to demonstrate your passion and commitment to the organization’s mission and goals. Being genuinely passionate about the organization and its mission will make you stand out as a dedicated and enthusiastic candidate. It will also show that you are genuinely interested in making a positive impact and contributing to the organization’s growth and success

Which part of IAPS do you enjoy the most?
Anna: Getting to travel and meet people with similar interests, all around the world.
Marisol: Sharing with different people and cultures which have similar interests but different perspectives. Besides, go to events and meet amazing people with whom you create networking.

What’s it like being on the EC?
Anna: Being part of the EC is first and foremost way more time consuming than I imagined. But I am really grateful that even though I became a member in the middle of the year, I was immediately welcomed by the other guys that helped me adjust to the workload and the EC routine procedures. I truly believe that the EC experience is directly dependent on and changes according to the people that constitute it.
Marisol: What I liked the most about being on the EC was the diversity of people and cultures I encountered. Each of them taught me valuable lessons that helped me grow both professionally and personally. Despite the challenges we faced, it taught me to work as a team and improved my skills.

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of joining IAPS?
Anna: Do not even think about it. I am a firm believer that one should seize every opportunity that comes their way. Any physicist can find or create something around their interests in IAPS.
Marisol: Be honest and clear with your goals, and assess if you have the necessary time to perform the role adequately. Enjoy the constant learning.

How do you prefer spending your summer?
Anna: A kind of childish literature book at a nice, calm beach in Crete (the biggest island of Greece, where I am from).
Marisol: I enjoy climbing volcanoes or mountains. I love watching the sunset, listening to the ocean waves, and appreciating nature. I also meditate and go cycling.

IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Mario Gaimann, the IAPS Treasurer

For the latest in the series of jIAPS Interviews, the jIAPS Editor-in-Chief interviewed the IAPS Treasurer. Mario is studying for a PhD at the University of Stuttgart and the International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems (IMPRS-IS).

Interspersed with IAPS tales and discussions about the jIAPS Photo Competitions, Mario answered the following questions: 

Why did you decide to do a doctorate?

I chose to do a PhD because I wanted to dive deeply into an interdisciplinary scientific topic. My project is on physics-inspired machine learning; the method is called reservoir computing. It can be used to perform time-series prediction tasks, even for cases where a prediction is very difficult to make – for example for chaotic systems, like the Lorenz attractor. For an introduction, I recommend this article in Quanta Magazine. The core of my work is replacing a neural network reservoir with simulations of physical systems. This way, we can understand the learning system in physical terms, tune it, connect its physical characteristics with its learning behavior, and potentially construct novel devices for unconventional computing in the future.

I started by studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Physics at Friedrich Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. Then I studied for a Masters’s degree in Physics (with a focus on biophysics) at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Germany. So I started by studying dead matter, then went on to studying living matter, and now I’m studying what makes matter “intelligent.”

What’s your favourite thing about IAPS?

Meeting people from different countries and cultures; going abroad and talking to new people… My IAPS addiction began in 2016, when I attended Lights of Tuscany and visited Pisa and Florence. I met physics students from Italy and other countries. I enjoyed being part of the community. That’s what I like about IAPS.

What are some of your IAPS memories?

When I was studying in the UK, I went to iaps4fusion, which was really cool. We visited the Culham Centre for Fusion and saw the tokamak. Then I attended ICPS in Turin, Italy – ICPS is cool and crazy! [Please ask Mario for his ICPS anecdotes, we’re not recording them here! – Editor] And bringing so many physics students to Munich, Germany through contributing to PLANCKS 2022 was truly amazing.

Why did you decide to apply to become IAPS Treasurer?

I have an interest in financing student events. It started with PLANCKS 2022 in Munich – Monique Honsa asked if I’d be interested in joining the organising team. I didn’t have much experience in finances then, though I’d co-organised some events, e.g. the DPG-Schülertagung (a national conference organized by physics students for high school students) in Germany in 2020. Through volunteering, I gained lots of experience: designing the budget, contacting sponsors, working in an international team, and learning about legal and fiscal details of association law in Germany and France.  

And when did I meet Cyrus [the current IAPS President – Editor] and how does that come into this story? Well, like me he was part of the committee which organised PLANCKS 2022. He was thinking of running for IAPS President and asked me if I’d consider joining the EC. Initially I wasn’t sure… I mean, it’s lots of work. In the end, I decided: let’s do it! 

For me, IAPS is not just some hobby. It’s about being professional and absolutely reliable, representing international physics students and always acting in the interest of our members. 

What can IAPS members request funding for, and how do they do this?

There are currently two grants available. First, you can apply for a grant to run an international event for IAPS members. At least 40% of the participants should be from a different country than the host country. IAPS can award grants of up to €1000, with the grant funding no more than half of the total budget. The international event can be anything from a summer school, to excursions, workshops or an iaps4x event: iaps4materials, iaps4fusion… You just have to present your budget, draft your programme and plan how many students you want to attend your event. 

You can find more details about how to apply here.

The other grant is for Outreach activities. For example, the School Day annual event, where you can receive funding to go into high schools and tell school children about physics, and do experiments; or the school children can visit your university. There’s also the International Day of Light, or you can come up with your own idea and receive funding for currently up to €300. 

I also encourage members to apply together with IAPS for an International Activity grant with the Council of Europe’s European Youth Foundation (EYF), please contact me (or future IAPS treasurers) if you are interested.

What’s the strangest thing someone has requested money for?

As surprising as it may be, we’ve only received requests for solid, sensible things this year… All I can think of is that at PLANCKS 2023, someone came up to me and said that they’d heard that IAPS has the funds to pay for their private travel after PLANCKS had finished. I don’t know where they got the idea from, but I thought they seemed serious, though it sounded like a joke. Our budget is limited in IAPS and will only be spent in the interest of our members! I had to decline their request of course. 

[Editor – I also overheard conversations at PLANCKS with people asking IAPS Treasurer whether he could fund their dinner and drinks and other things, but let’s not go into that… ] 

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of joining IAPS?

Just do it! 

All you need to create IAPS events in your area are some physics friends, then you can form a local committee. You could organise small talks. In my local groups in NC Germany, we had events where you had a quiz-show style ‘answer questions against your professors’.

Be active, go to IAPS events! If there are no events, create events!

To get started you don’t need much; you just need motivated, engaged students, ideally with an international perspective. And of course you can also join IAPS as an individual.

What skills do you need to be the IAPS Treasurer?

Being IAPS Treasurer… What is takes a sense of responsibility. You have to be professional and have a true commitment to the role. It has happened in the past that a Treasurer has not been reliable and it has horrible consequences for the whole organisation; so I would say: if you do it, do it properly. 

It is quite some work, but there are so many benefits to being Treasurer of IAPS – you get to contact lots of people. You have some influence in shaping the spending of IAPS (within what has been approved at the AGM and in the end, the whole EC has to vote… but your opinion matters. If you say ‘no, we don’t have the budget’, people will listen to you). 

You get to go to some cool meetings – for example, I recently attended the Mid-Term Meeting 2023 of the International Science Council in Paris and got to meet representatives of so many international associations. You get to represent IAPS and have a lot of fun. I focused on potential partners who could support IAPS and on connecting with organizations in the Asia-Pacific region to make the ICPS 2023 in the Philippines more known. But I also met people from international associations I had never heard of: the International Union For Quaternary Research, which is about studying the ice age, the International Union of Speleology, an international body for caving… People you’d never meet, you can meet through IAPS. 

Any last words?

IAPS has a great network – you have friends in the whole world. If you need help applying for an internship or a placement, you can ask on the IAPS Discord and people answer you and provide support. The benefits are infinite! 

For only €10 a year, you can become a full member – join IAPS now! [You can check whether your country has a national or local committee on the IAPS website, and you can  join the IAPS Discord for free – Editor] 

IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

Interview with Zlatan Vasović (IAPS Fundraising Manager and Archivist)

The current jIAPS Editor-in-Chief has been interviewing IAPS EC members. Now it is the time for two Editor-in-Chiefs to interview each other. Zlatan Vasović was the jIAPS Editor-in-Chief last year in 2021–22, as well as the IAPS IT Manager. He is now the IAPS Fundraising Manager and the Archivist (and spoiler alert, he is hoping to apply for a position to continue in IAPS next year).

 jIAPS is currently looking for next year’s Editor-in-Chief. Could it be you? Email us at for more information on how to apply. 

What do you consider to be the most important aspects of IAPS?

What makes IAPS unique is that it is truly international. Through IAPS events, like ICPS and PLANCKS, you can meet people from the whole world. One aspect is less known and harder to access: becoming an IAPS volunteer, by joining a working group, the EC (Executive Committee) or jIAPS [Especially jIAPS; that of course is the most important aspect to IAPS – Editor].

What is the most challenging thing about being the past Editor-in-Chief?

Answering the questions from the current Editor-in-Chief, especially when she messages me every day and when I don’t know what to expect from the questions. I take it as a challenge and I love to see how jIAPS is developing.

I know you are always on the IAPS Discord, messaging people. How many IAPS members have you messaged in the last 24 hours?

About 20… but that includes people from NC Serbia and the EC. It was a busy day though. 

What do all past jIAPS Editor-in-Chiefs have in common?

One common trait is that they have a lot of interests – they are quite curious, versatile and multi-skilled. They can do a lot of things and be successful in all of them.

 What has jIAPS done this year that you would have done differently?


Actually, I’m not dissatisfied with anything in jIAPS. There are two main things I would have done differently: I would have pushed for a separate jIAPS website, like a real news site [For context, the plans for this have been ongoing for  while and haven’t reached completion yet, and it doesn’t look like it will be happening anytime soon – the IT Working Group has lots to do]. 

The second would be more online meetings. I am just addicted to online meetings, so I would’ve run them more often, like every two weeks. [What’s the record we are on now? Is it a grand total of three meetings since last August? – Editor]

What is your advice for anyone who is interested in applying to join the EC?

Go through the website, read the information about the roles there. Read the reports from people who have previously held the position [These are on the IAPS Cloud. If you don’t know where to find this, just email – Editor]. Reach out to the current EC members – the most recent source of information is the person who is currently in that position. And don’t forget the internet – just google around and find more information about what that role is supposed to do in general.

[What a technical answer… definitely an answer from an Archivist – Editor.]

You recently attended the finals of PLANCKS in Milan. What was your most memorable moment from this IAPS event?

The culinary exercises while everyone else was doing theoretical exercises – as the observers at PLANCKS, we had to prepare lunch for the competitors. It was a nice way to bond and connect with the other observers. We were split into teams preparing different kinds of food. I enjoyed organizing my team in the most efficient way possible, to finish our task first. It was a fun experience – food connects people.

What non-IAPS and non-physics activities do you do in your free time?

None. I don’t have any free time… okay, alright. My true hobby is socializing with people. Sometimes it’s mixed with work, but I just enjoy meeting new people.

I am a big fan of movies: not the mass produced ones, but high quality ones. Besides that, I like searching for random things on the internet and learning new things every day. [Other hobbies Zlatan has includes annoying Editor-in-Chiefs on a daily basis and lurking on the IAPS Discord waiting for new messages to be posted – Editor.]

Which movies do you most enjoy watching?

A lot of them, actually. Some of them are classic films, like Casablanca and the Godfather; then others are less well known, but still high quality, like some Serbian and Yugoslav movies. Then there are some films which are in many ways bad but still have something interesting or unique about them. Need movie recommendations? Message me on Discord!

Was there anything during your time as jIAPS Editor-in-Chief which didn’t work?

There were things we started doing and never finished, or planned to do and never did. It shows that throughout the year, you have to reassess your priorities. 

For example, we were slow to set up the online edition of jIAPS, only publishing one or two articles on the website… but that works well this year. We also thought about sponsors. To be financially sustainable, jIAPS could have advertisements. But that didn’t work out, not yet.

What is your favourite part of your role as IAPS Archivist? 

No one sees me. I can just hide in the archives, and it’s a refreshing change from the other roles I’ve had in IAPS. The most interesting part is that you get access to all the records of IAPS and can find out what happened in every year since IAPS started. It’s a great power and you have to use it carefully.

How do you overcome challenges in IAPS?

It’s not much different from the other challenges in life. I learn about the challenge, get more knowledge and skills, and then I can overcome it. Just like in your studies, you can learn more advanced topics from the current year, which in the previous year would have been a challenge. Now you can overcome that challenge.

 By this stage, Zlatan was starving and wanted to go and have dinner, by don’t worry, all is not over – this article only includes half of the interview. The other half, with Zlatan as the interviewer, is yet to come.

IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Dimitris Gkavakos (IAPS IT Manager and DPO Officer)

The jIAPS Editor-in-Chief is enjoying interviewing the EC members so much that we already have another interview for you. This time, the  jIAPS Editor-in-Chief interviewed Dimitris, IAPS IT manager, who is currently studying at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. 

The interview opened with a sneak preview of the most recent developments in the world of IAPS IT and a discussion of possible future plans for jIAPS.

Then, the actual interview started. The jIAPS Editor-in-Chief began with the usual opening question…

What are you currently studying?

I’m studying Medical Physics. To be more exact, I’m doing a small piece of research on a Gamma Camera, but thinking of shifting my focus towards neural networks and image reconstruction techniques, especially with all the fuzz on AI. 

What is your favorite part of your role as IAPS IT Manager?

When I first took over as IT Manager, I had a completely blank canvas. There was room to create stuff and provide space to build things. It was the most amazing experience!

What does your role involve?

I can divide the tasks into two categories: first, developing new resources; making them from scratch; the creative tasks; like designing elements of the website  and creating new resources. Then there’s the ‘boring’ stuff, like maintenance and debugging, and doing the sysadmin stuff.

What are your tips for overcoming challenges as IT Manager of IAPS?

You need to think outside the box and always assess possible risks. So, focus on maintaining things and keeping them running, rather than fixing them when they break down. Work smart, not hard.

What have you enjoyed the most about being part of the EC?

Being a part of the EC was more of a self-actualization thing for me; I really love to provide and care for people. Especially now that we provide for physics students across the world, you might think that we differ a lot, but in reality the phrase is “Different continents…same problems”. 

Also by joining the EC you get the chance to meet some truly amazing people and some very interesting characters – the knowledge and cultural exchange is on another level.

What skills is it important to have to be part of the EC?

Time management is really important. You have to be able to keep to a strict schedule or you’ll be a goner. Being a team player and balancing tasks and supporting each other is necessary… it can be stressful at times; keeping that family vibe is very important. IAPS is just like a big family. What else? Do I need to think of another one? Communicating and being able to express yourself – that’s a big one. If you lose communication, it causes a lot of problems; a lot of problems. Communication is critical. 

What is it like being part of the EC?

…what’s it really like? 50% of the time is spent dealing with bureaucracy and the other 50% is spent listening to the Treasurer’s obsession with fund-raising. 

What has been your biggest success this year?

Being elected as IAPS Data Protection Officer (DPO); nah I’m messing with you. For me, overcoming the biggest challenge of IAPS IT infrastructure. Basically we managed to migrate to a different hosting provider, containerized everything and we have backups on top of backups. Before that, if something crashed, you had to pray that it would start again.

What is the role of the DPO?

Basically, it involves looking through the GDPR legislation. Every organization has one to ensure that the organization follows the legislation. In addition to that, the DPO acts as a legal in house advisor, assisting in creating Data Processing Agreements.

What advice would you give to someone who was considering the role of IT Manager?

Go for it! Just be sure to know the basics of sysadmin, PHP and network security. Without those you are a goner.

How can people get involved with the IT Working Group?

It is very simple: hit me up on Discord or throw me an email at

What advice would you give to someone who was considering joining IAPS?

When I first joined IAPS, I joined as the President of an already made NC (Greece). I started my journey through physics associations from EPS Young Minds and the American Physical Society, then I landed on IAPS.

If you ask me, why should you join IAPS…

IAPS has one of the most heart warming communities in the student association world, not just in Physics. You have the opportunity to meet new people, learn new skills and support your activities on a local level.

Aside from the aforementioned, IAPS is also a great opportunity to learn how to run an NC or an LC, join a Working Group and transfer the knowledge back to your country. The knowledge that we have has been battle tested from the late 1990s.

IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Gabriel Maynard, IAPS Vice President and Recruitment Officer

The Editor-in-Chief is continuing to make their way around the EC. Read the latest interview below:

What are you currently studying?

Well, today I am not studying – I’m in the transition period between the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree programs. In the autumn, I’ll start an Erasmus Mundus Master’s in Planetary Geophysics. I would like to emphasize my career towards Environmental Physics, as that was the focus of my four year undergraduate degree course at the University of Costa Rica . It’s nice to have a break – I was overwhelmed with choice at the end of my degree. Plus, I have time for other projects, including IAPS and NC Costa Rica. 

Which committee was it the most rewarding to recruit?

It’s the most rewarding to me working in the NC here in Costa Rica. Recruiting other committees in Central America and working with them to create a community, with the potential to grow is also very rewarding.  

Have you been involved with the recruitment of anyone who has gone on to do anything significant in IAPS?

Well… I helped to recruit most of the current EC! There’s NC Greece. I did the process of upgrade from LCs to the current NC, and Dimitris [current IT Manager] is part of that NC; then LC Singapore – Soe [External Relations Officer]; and LC Santo Domingo – Thara [Secretary, also see jIAPS’ interview with Thara]; and NC Guatemala – Marisol [PR Manager]. Have I missed anyone? [And that’s just the people on this year’s EC! – Editor]  

Which committee is the most difficult to recruit?

There’s one which we’ve devised a solution for, but they are stubborn. They want a national committee, but that would be a political statement… and then there’s the case no one talks about which is extremely difficult or impossible to recruit.

Which other tasks, apart from recruitment, have you been involved in?

I was the Data Protection Officer for half a term. It was only for a short time and it wasn’t much work. I’m also on the AC5 Council, organising meetings and trying to move further with the collaboration with IUPAP. As you know, I am Vice-President which has its set of tasks, including helping with the planning of the Mulhouse meeting and connecting with external relations. I’m helping with trying to organise another IAPS2CERN trip which is providing a challenge. There’s a financial problem with the organisation of that – it’s not one of IAPS’ major events, so it is more difficult to find sponsors who are willing to subsidise the laboratory visit [If you, dear reader, happen to be a millionaire, or know of any potential sponsors, please do get in contact with us –  Editor].

Which IAPS event have you enjoyed the most?

I really enjoyed PLANCKS 2022 in Munich. It was really special to see people from the committees you have recruited participating in the competition and enjoying the event. It was very rewarding, especially seeing countries from outside Europe becoming more involved in IAPS. 

PLANCKS 2022 was also the first time Costa Rica participated in person. They selected a team and entered the competition… and it’s fantastic to see it keep improving. Costa Rica participated this year too.

There were also so many activities at PLANCKS and I saw plenty of friends. 

How do you convince new members to join IAPS?

Depending on the area, I say different things. If they are in Latin America, I tell them about the events we are hosting. Then there’s the grants you can apply to in IAPS. I also promote that it is beneficial to have a greater representation from their continent in IAPS, and how they can use it as a platform for future collaborations and to improve their countries. For everyone, I mention the main events IAPS organises, and then the regional engagement and planning of events too. 

What are some of the skills you have learnt from being part of IAPS?

One of the benefits of IAPS has been learning management skills. I’ve learnt how to propose projects and have gained hands-on experience. Being part of the IAPS EC has changed my worldview completely. I have gained new tools and learnt so much.

On average, how many emails do you send a week relating to IAPS?

It varies a lot… maybe about ten a week. Some weeks it is only about three or five. Probably at least ten a week. This isn’t including messaging – that would go off the chart! [The Editor has just checked their email headcount and it is also at least ten IAPS emails a week]

I heard you recently completed some field work as part of your course. What was it like?

I completely like field work. You never know what is going to happen, whereas, in a lab, you have a very controlled environment. You also get to take nice pictures. 

It was a comprehensive experience. Sometimes we had to wake up at 3am and get on the University transport to go to a far-off place in the country. We had to take our measuring equipment with us which weighed about 20 kg and plant the stations we were setting up. This was done to measure carbon dioxide and methane fluxes from the soil to study the interaction between soil and boundary layer in different environments. The stations were to measure Greenhouse Gases in real time. Usually it was very hot – about 30 °C – and about 97% relative humidity so we were all sweating so much. 

[Here, we lapsed into a tangential discussion about snakes. The conclusion is that if you like snakes, go to Costa Rica. If you don’t, come to PLANCKS next year in Dublin.]

One funny story about the field work… we were setting up a station when we could hear a buzzing noise. We were in a field, with trees around it. The buzzing noise was getting stronger and stronger. “Let’s not panic,” said the professor, “Those are killer bees.”

“We’re going to finish setting up,” he continued, “and then run.”

He then encouraged us to start working faster. The buzzing noise was all around us, coming from all directions – we didn’t know where to run to, but we finished the task and got out of there. 

Can you think of anything unusual you’ve had to deal with in your role?

Well, there’s one thing that was very surreal and bothered me.

One Individual Member who was trying to sign up to join IAPS was very intense, following the procedure. There was lots of emailing and it was quite problematic. Then I received a WhatsApp call at 2am. I woke up in the middle of the night and thought ‘who’s calling? Who is this who has got my number?’ It kept calling, about seven times.

All they needed to do was to pay the ten euro membership fee, by either bank transfer or PayPal. This started a whole month of missed calls. They wanted guiding through each small step to pay by PayPal… at that point, I lost patience. ‘I don’t care! Leave me alone!’ I thought… so I gave up and paid the fee for them. ‘Just go away.’ [Note – don’t expect Gabriel to pay your membership fee for you. You have to annoy him sufficiently to get that result, and next time, he is likely to resort to a different tactic instead.]

The lesson here is to never give your phone number in a situation to do with IAPS. 

What is your favourite thing about your role?

I really enjoy engaging with more physics students and hearing the reality through their perceptions of IAPS. I like knowing the different perspectives and connecting with students. 

Thank you so much Gabriel! 

[Gabriel then left the video call to have a well-deserved lunch break, whilst it was the end of the day for the Editor-in-Chief, who returned home and typed up this interview.]

IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with Thara Caba, IAPS Secretary

For the next in the series of jIAPS interviews. The Editor-in-Chief spoke to Thara Caba, IAPS Secretary:

What are you currently studying?

I graduated from my Bachelor’s course in April. I was studying General Physics for my undergrad in Dominican Republic. I’ll start my Master’s in September, where I’ll be studying Astrophysics and Space Science; so I’m actually in between degree programmes at the moment. I’m doing some extracurricular courses in General Relativity and Cosmology, and some programming courses. 

What have you enjoyed most in IAPS?

I really enjoy the community in IAPS. Here [in the Dominican Republic], we only have a small community of physics students. In IAPS, you get to meet people from all over the world. I enjoy attending events and getting to meet so many physics students. It’s not ordinary for me; so I like the events and the community. 

What’s your IAPS journey been like – what previous roles have you had?

A few years ago, I was the President of my student association and I was contacted by Gabriel [now Vice-President of IAPS], who was part of the recruitment working group of IAPS. Gabriel found the email addresses of all the student physics societies in Latin America and contacted them to tell them about IAPS. I got a message from him and that’s how we started the process to become a LC [Local Committee of IAPS]. That was in 2021 I think. After that, I was a volunteer at the online edition of PLANCKS in 2021. I became more involved with IAPS. I was a staff member of jIAPS 2021 [and Thara is still helping with jIAPS now – Editor]. Then I ran for PR Manager in 2021 and became part of the EC. 

And so, why did you decide to apply to become IAPS Secretary?

As part of the EC [Executive Committee], I saw the importance of having a good secretary. Then I was like, hey, I’m good with time management and organising stuff, why shouldn’t I apply for Secretary of IAPS? I was also finishing my studies, so I knew I’d have more time for IAPS. So that’s what I did in 2022, and here I am now. 

What does your role involve, other than minute taking at meetings?

Taking minutes every two weeks for the EC meeting is the most consistent thing I have to do, but it actually isn’t the biggest thing. I also make sure that everyone’s doing their tasks that they were allocated in the meetings and remind them to do their tasks. 

Organising the EGM (Extraordinary General Meeting) and now the AGM (Annual General Meeting) is a lot of work. There are a lot of moving parts and this is the biggest thing I have to do. Whenever there’s a letter of recommendation or a letter for an event to be written, that’s my job. Those are the biggest things I have to do in my role. There are also unallocated jobs in the EC that anyone can do too. 

What’s your most memorable moment from IAPS?

My most memorable moments are from PLANCKS Milan 2023. I really liked meeting and talking with the Nobel Prize Winner, Didier Queloz, who discovered the first giant planet outside the solar system. [You can ask Thara for her other memorable moments – Editor

What are IAPS meetings really like?

They are usually very long and very heavy – there is a lot to discuss. Before doing it, no one is aware how much work being on the EC really is. There are lots of things to do, but it’s really rewarding. 

What’s your top tip for taking minutes?

Don’t write everything anyone says, or you’ll fall behind and start to miss stuff. Just write the general idea and that’s okay. People don’t want to have to read a ten page long document for every meeting. 

Can you think of anything unusual or particularly interesting that you’ve had to include in the minutes of a meeting?

I’ve included lots of unusual things in the minutes! I want people to read them. I don’t want them just to approve the minutes without reading them. Once, I wrote that one of the EC members was in the bathroom in the minutes to see if people were paying attention to what I wrote. 

Have you had to do a lot of travelling in IAPS?

Yes! It is one of the most rewarding things about being on the EC, or just being in IAPS in general. I have two favourite events that I travelled to with IAPS. The first is the Opening Ceremony of the IYBSSD (the International Year of Basic Sciences for Sustainable Development), which was really fancy and held in Paris. I got to meet ministers and Nobel Prize winners… and afterwards, we went to the Eiffel Tower. It was an amazing day.

The second event is the IUPAP (International Union of Pure and Applied Physics) Centenary Symposium in Trieste, which was near the beach. We got to go to the beach almost every day. It was an event with physicists from all around the world. I got to learn about the diverse jobs a physicist can do – not just becoming a researcher, but there were also journalists, business managers and policy makers.   [You can read more about both of these events in jIAPS 2022 – Editor]

What advice would you give to someone who was thinking of joining IAPS?

Just do it! It is really fun! You get to meet lots of people, make lots of friends! 

I’ve found that physics students all like the same things; we have similar personalities. If you join, you won’t regret it. 

Thank you Thara; is there anything you’d like to add?

Hmm…  just ‘thank you for interviewing me!’ 

IAPS 2022-2023 Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with the Coordinator of the Music Group Sessions, Aleksandar Stojcheski

Interviewer: Fabiola Cañete Leyva, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico

Music and physics have always been intertwined. That is the main motivation behind the Music Sessions led by Aleksandar Stojcheski at IAPS.

For the next in a series of jIAPS interviews, we feature a conversation with Aleksandar where we discuss the objectives of this initiative.

You can listen to the New Year’s song or the 35th Anniversary’s song produced by the Music Group at IAPS!

Graphic designed by Harvey Sapigao

Hello, Aleksandar. Can you share with us what you are studying and where?
Hello. I’m currently studying for my undergraduate degree. I’m in my third year and my major is physics. I study at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Skopje, North Macedonia. My intentions for future studies are in the field of fusion and nuclear energy. 

How did this initiative begin?

Well, music has always been there. It’s not just something that I started to do recently. Listening to music has always been a huge part of my life. 

I started playing the guitar because my father used to play and he taught me. That’s how I started with the acoustic guitar. Then, you know, with time, after practicing more I decided to get myself an electric guitar. Although, my first wish was to play the drums, you know? And that wish remained. So much that several months ago I finally got my drum set. I have always loved music and instruments are a big part of my life. I have plans for future instruments. I would like to play a little bit of everything. It is a passion I always carry with me, even when I go to physics events. 

Actually, that is how all this initiative began. It was very interesting how it happened.

Last year I went as a delegate to the EPS forum in Paris. It was my first participation as an IAPS member and it was great. I met incredible people: the president, the business committee, everyone. We had a great time and I learned a lot. 

At the end of the event, many of us remained in Paris for one or two days more to enjoy the city. Some of us gathered to walk around and we ended up visiting Montmartre, a place full of culture. There were some theaters, very nice cafes and of course, music.

I remember there was a street musician who played the guitar and he really interacted with the audience. All of us ended up singing together and, at one point I even joined the stage. It was really an amazing experience.

Afterwards, while talking with Ruhi —the IAPS president at that time— I said, why not try to do something like this in IAPS? She was very excited about the idea. And after returning to my country we really talked about it. I gave some proposals, she also gave some ideas and that is how it all happened. It was very spontaneous.

What is the main objective of the Music Group at IAPS?

Well, music always brings people together. So the idea is to recreate, in some way, the experience we all had in Paris. The music sessions give space for people to express themselves, to share some music and also part of their culture. I was really honored when people entered the first couple of sessions and started to play their instruments. 

Slowly, some ideas came up. During sessions I started to think about what more we could do and that is how the idea of making a song for the 35th anniversary of IAPS was born. We thought that it was a great opportunity to come together and produce something. 

The coolest part of being an international community is that you don’t just gather in a room and play. Being all in different parts of the world, we had to, sort of, make it like a puzzle. Everyone played individually and in production all the pieces came together. The collaboration was amazing.

How many participants are there in the Music Group?

On average, about 10 people. There is always a different number of people in each session, it depends on their availability. I usually try to post the date early so that everyone can see it. Anyone can join. We actually had new members the last time.

Being a group formed by physics students, do you think that your approach to music is different from that of the general public?

Maybe. I would say that as a physicist you get inspired in a different way because physics is a science that consists of amazing theories that can influence the way you think about music. For example, there have been people who play the Fibonacci sequence and get inspired by incorporating those mathematical and physical concepts into their music.

Which music genre is addressed by the Music Group?

We don’t approach just one style. There have been sessions where we play traditional songs. Sometimes we play jazzy stuff, like the New Year song we composed. And other times we also go with a classical perspective, like with the anniversary song.

Personally, I love rock music and sometimes I also listen to classical music but I try not to impose my preferences in the music sessions. I am always open to suggestions and I am happy to try new things.

Do you have a role model or an inspiration, like a physics professor with a music background?

Not really, that is not my way of thinking. I don’t have role models. I follow inspiration instead. Music is a great part of my life and I have understood that I need that balance between art and science. When I do music I get inspired by the process. 

Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of joining the music group or learning to play music?

Well, the main requirement, in a way, is to have a passion for music. The objective is to have fun, to relax a little bit and if something comes out of it, that is fantastic. If someone has a music project that requires collaboration or if someone just wants to learn about other cultures through music, this is the place to do that.

Aleksandar, thank you so much for this interview and for the wonderful work done leading the Music Group at IAPS.’

Find out more about the Music Group Sessions in the #music channel of the IAPS Discord.

Interviews jIAPS

An Interview with the coordinator of the Mental Health and Well-being sessions, Cihad Gözsüz

Interviewer: Fabiola Cañete Leyva, Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico

Mental health is a rising concern among students and academics all over the world.

Along with the coronavirus pandemic, many university members have noted in their peers— and in themselves—an increase in mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and burnout syndrome.

In order to mitigate this problem, many academic communities have started to talk openly about the subject, as a way to promote awareness and offer support to their members. That is the main motivation behind the Well-being Sessions initiative led by Cihad Gözsüz at IAPS.

In this interview, the next in a series of jIAPS interviews, we feature a conversation with Cihad where we discuss the objectives of this initiative and the mental health challenges that many physics students face through their academic journeys.

‘Hello Cihad. Can you tell us about what you are studying and where?
I was studying physics in Dortmund, Germany. But, I have recently switched to studying psychology at the University of Braunschweig, also in Germany.

If you don’t mind me asking, why the sudden change?
There were several reasons but everything was triggered by the recent pandemic. During Covid, a lot of things happened. In terms of mental health, I was not feeling very well and neither did a lot of my friends. That is why I became invested in the direction of mental health and started volunteering in that area. Ultimately, that is what led me to want to study psychology full-time.

Why is it important to address mental well-being among physics students?
Mental health is essential for everyone but it is crazy to realize how many science students struggle, especially during their Ph.D., which is an intense and time-consuming period. You often hear students talk about things like burnout and other stress-related issues. By listening to people, you notice that mental health is not often talked about in the physics community. That is why I believe it is important to start addressing this topic.

Is there a personal experience that you may want to share?
Yeah, so, I was actually never in real therapy. My worst days were during the Covid pandemic. At that time it was really difficult to get a place in therapy. And in my case, I didn’t notice that I had anything to worry about. No symptoms from my childhood or anything. But, I had self-esteem problems that do trace back to childhood trauma, I believe. There were some problems with the way my parents raised me. I don’t blame them, of course, because they had their own experiences as well. But I consider that there was a lack of care given, I think. They never really showed that I had value for them or maybe the way that they expressed it was not very obvious.

Then, unfortunately, I also had a bad time in school.

On top of that, another circumstance that has had a big impact on my life also was a romantic relationship of seven years. When it ended, things that I didn’t notice before came rolling back to me. The breakup led me to believe that suddenly I was not important to the people around me. I started to feel like a burden to everyone and to think that it would be better not to have friends at all, in that way I would not be able to hurt them as well.

Then, with the loneliness from the pandemic, those feelings escalated. I started to punish myself, in my head, and eventually, I even had suicidal thoughts.

I am just very grateful that at that point other things happened that helped me. I met people that showed care and with time I got over that phase in my life. All this motivated me to show more care to others. I realized that I did not care much about others or myself before. So, I wanted to change. My main motivation was that I knew how difficult it can be to go through this on your own, so I wanted to help others in the same situation.

Mental health is a relatively new topic, do you think that mental health has worsened over the last few years? If so, what do you think are the reasons?
This is a difficult question! Personally, I don’t know if there are any statistics on this topic. The modern world does not feel like it is made for mental health though. When you consider things like digitalization, for instance. We spend a lot of time on social media, and paradoxically, while it does connect people, it also creates some distancing among us. There is some kind of masking going on when people post online how well they are doing, when maybe, in reality, they are not doing so great. But then again, the digital age has also brought us awareness about mental health and other topics that were not openly discussed before. And social media has also played a part in this. So I can’t really say if things are getting better or worse.

What is the main objective of the Mental well-being chat sessions?
The objective is to create a safe atmosphere for whoever wants to participate and discuss how they are doing so we can be there for each other. For the mental well-being sessions, I start by inviting people to a meeting. And then I ask people how they are feeling right now or if there is anything that they are dealing with at the moment. We also talk about the good things that happen to us, of course. Sometimes there is a funny story to tell, sometimes not. And if you don’t want to share anything that is also ok. The point of all these sessions is to share our thoughts and connect with other people. The more open we are, I feel like the bond between us gets stronger.

In your perspective, what is the principal barrier faced by students with mental health problems? Can it be society, their family, or maybe even themselves?
I think there can’t be just one thing to blame here. It is usually the sum of everything. Maybe the school system can be better. Society also plays an important role but I would say it is hard to pinpoint a single reason here. This is a hard question!

What kind of impact do these setbacks have on the academic performance of physics students?
I think it is different for everyone. Some students can perform well, even in these circumstances, and other students struggle a lot. Physics is usually a topic that is very time-consuming. There’s a lot to study in a really short time. But sometimes, people have said to me that it is precisely this kind of anxiety that helps them push themselves harder. In the long run though, in the majority of cases, you can expect burnout at some point.

I remember a study indicating that people with high neuroticism can perform well. However, on average they perform worse than the people who act as a friend to themselves. In summary, being harsh to yourself works well but being nice to yourself has better results.

One observation I can make is that physics students can mask their feelings very well and they can perform efficiently even in hard circumstances. Unfortunately, this can have an impact on the dynamics of the academic environment. For example, if a teacher perceives that students are doing well, they can expect students to start delivering more and so they may increase the workload.
In one of my internships, people often complained about how little time they had for themselves but they pushed themselves anyways so at the end of the day if you are having a hard time you start thinking, it sucks but if people get through it then I can do it too. What I am trying to say is that because people in physics might be great at masking their emotions and being high performers, the expectations in the field rise even more.

Do you think that physics students are somehow at a higher risk of suffering mental health problems?
Yeah, I think that there are some statistics on this topic. Ph.D. students are more often struggling than the average student. A certain percentage of normal students themselves suffer from some kind of disorder involving anxiety or depression, but this number goes up if we are talking about Ph.D. students. I once read that about fifty percent of Ph.D. students battled with these problems. I was so impressed that I talked about this with some friends and I remember that one person said, I can’t believe it is just fifty percent! The truth is that a Ph.D. is in itself a hard thing to do and these kinds of experiences just discourage people from pursuing it, sadly.

What kind of initiatives do you think are necessary to mitigate this problem?
I wish I had an answer here. There are too many aspects that play a role in this phenomenon. One thing that can help mitigate this problem, I believe, is to encourage people to be open about this topic, to look for help, and also to hold the kind of sessions we do here in IAPS.

What has been your favourite IAPS event or activity so far?
Any in-person event is great for me because I get to meet most of my IAPS friends. The last big event I remember is the PLANCKS event. We organised it in Munich and I got to spend a lot of time with the friends that I made through the Internet. It was quite a surreal experience.

What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking of coming along to a Mental Health and Wellbeing Session?
I would tell them that the sessions are a safe place to share whatever they want and it is also a great place to make friends. For the people that may not be so sure about joining, I would tell them that their participation during the sessions is completely up to them. They can opt to be there and just be willing to listen to people and if at some point they feel uncomfortable, they can leave, of course. I always give a disclaimer. People in the mental health chat session are not professional. So if someone feels that they need some serious mental health help, I always encourage them to seek professional help. The mental health sessions are just like regular conversations where we talk about different things. It is normal to be afraid but usually when you have joined two or three times that feeling goes away. The best part is to connect with people and just be there for each other.

Cihad, thank you so much for your answers and for the wonderful work done leading this mental health initiative.

Find out more about the Mental Health and Wellbeing Sessions on the IAPS Discord.