Physics and Optics Naples Young Students (PONYS) is a APS (Associazione di Promozione Sociale), a no-profit cultural association. The group is composed of bachelor and master students, PhDs Post-Docs and researchers from the Physics Department of Federico II University of Naples.
PONYS started in 2006, when a group of six student members of The Optical Society (OSA) (now Optica) founded one of the first European OSA Student Chapters. In 2010 we joined the European Physical Society (EPS), with a Young Minds section, and in 2012 we also became a student chapter of The International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). Optica, EPS and SPIE are the main sponsors of PONYS APS.
The main goal of the association is to promote the cultural relevance of physics, inside and outside academia. This is done in different ways:
- promoting awareness about physics research and applications among the students and local communities;
- facilitating communication and interaction between students, researchers, administration and industry professionals;
- supporting its members professional development with information sharing and networking;
- raising awareness about opportunities for students.
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Every year the association realizes dozens of activities, which can be grouped into four main areas: outreach, professional development, networking and social volunteering. You will find more about them in the categories of this website.
Coming back with the memory, there are activities that have raised PONYS as a community and as a scientific and cultural association as well. It is impossible to cite all of them, but we will highlight here some of them, just to give you an idea of their history.
One of the first activities of the OSA chapter, back in 2007, was the establishment of the IONS (International OSA Network of Students) network: its main goal is to encourage students working in optics to organize and manage regional meetings focused on technical and professional development content as well as networking with peers and luminaries. The 4th IONS was held in 2008 in Naples. And the 12th too in 2012, when IONS was already a worldwide network. In 2016 the network came back for the third time, as the Olympic Games, every four years!
In 2009 a group of PONYS members visited the University of Gulu, Uganda. A teaching activity was organized for high school teachers, in order to give them a short course of 2 weeks in optics. During these days several low cost experiments done with local materials were realized. This is the kind of activity that cannot be simply be labeled as outreach or social volunteering. As it is both, as well as professional development and networking.
The outreach activities are and have been many. Historically the most beautiful were the first Day of Light (2007), the physics exhibit in Procida island (2011), Passione Fisica (started in 2013) and Futuro Remoto (started in 2015).
In 2015 PONYS produced also their second movie, Blackout, filmed to celebrate the International Year of Light (IYL). The movie was screened at the IYL closing ceremony in Merida (Mexico).
PONYS’ work has been recognized with several awards. Among these, the EPS Young Minds Best Activity Award 2016 has been a kind of reward for the 10 years activities goal.
PONYS’ activities are run in partnership with the Physics Department of Federico II University of Naples, with the Naples section of the National Institute for Nuclear Physics (INFN), and with the Institutes ISASI and SPIN of the National Research Council (CNR).