The results of the third University Physics Competition, announced on December 21, 2012, brought great news: the Joint Institute team, composed of Yanrong Li, Yihe Tang, and Xiwa Deng, has won the competition among the 81 teams from all over the world. Our students were awarded the only gold medal for their solution of problem A “Volcanism on Super-Earths.”

Dr. Mateusz Krzyzosiak, JI’s physics lecturer, is the advisor of the gold medalists as well as two other JI teams taking part in the third University Physics Competition, including Xianghan Pei, Bo Zhang, Yulin Shi, Dongyi Zhou, and Yuhao Yang.

The University Physics Competition is officially sponsored by both the American Physical Society and American Astronomical Society. It is an international contest for undergraduate students, who work in teams of two or three at their home colleges and universities all over the world and spend a weekend in November analyzing a real-world scenario using the principles of physics and writing a formal paper describing their work. The third annual University Physics Competition started on Friday, November 16, 2012, and lasted for 48 hours.

At the start of the contest, each team selects one of the two problems which are intended for students who have had at least one year of university physics. However, the problems are designed to be conceptually rich and open-ended in nature, so they are also challenging to senior level students. The problems may contain incomplete information, therefore the students have to do background research and make some reasonable assumptions in order to proceed with the analysis. Teams must perform a theoretical analysis of the scenario
presented using the principles of physics and write a formal paper, in English, detailing their work.

After the contest, all papers are judged and ranked. Only the top 2% of papers are ranked as gold medal winners, followed by 15-20% as silver medal winners, 25-30% as bronze medal winners, and 50-60% as accomplished competitors.

One of the gold medalists, Yanrong Li, remarked, “Due to the competitive nature of the contest and our lack of confidence, we feel lucky to have such accomplishment, which we attribute to our seamless teamwork and Dr. Mateusz Krzyzosiak’s strong advising. Moreover, JI’s rich academic resources and innovative environment also contribute to our success. We are greatly honored, and we have enjoyed the whole process.

The details of the competition and the complete results can be found at

Contributed by Dr. Mateusz Krzyzosiak.