The Congress Centennial Endowment Fund

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by Brad R. Conrad, Director of Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma

Because of support from ΣПΣ members and friends of SPS, I am happy to announce that we met our $100,000 fundraising goal and established an endowment for ΣПΣ’s Physics Congress (PhysCon)! The fund, known as the Congress Centennial Endowment Fund, is a tribute to ΣПΣ’s incredible 100-year anniversary and commitment to the success of PhysCon. Through over 800 donations from donors like you, we have ensured the Physics Congress will live on in perpetuity.

The Physics Congress is the largest single gathering of undergraduate physics students in the world where attendees share their passion for all things physics and astronomy. While the first Congress was held shortly after the society’s formation in 1928 at Davidson College, today intergenerational attendees within the physics and astronomy communities continue the tradition. Here, students can spend a weekend making important connections, interacting with other scientists and engineers, and hearing from distinguished speakers. This event brings together ΣПΣ and SPS members from over 300 different chapters from across the world to celebrate our successes and work to advance the society. Our aim is to best serve undergraduate students, faculty, and undergraduate departments.

Every year we encounter students who cannot afford to experience PhysCon without additional support. The Congress Centennial Endowment Fund was created to relieve the financial burden for students who otherwise might not attend the Physics Congress by reducing costs of travel, lodging, and meals. Because of the endowment fund, in 2022 we will be able to distribute over $12,000 toward student travel expenses and ensure that up to 60 students have housing for the duration of the event.
From all of the students this fund will impact, the SPS National Council, and the SPS and ΣПΣ Executive Committee thank you for helping to make this dream a reality! Please consider joining us in supporting the future of the Physics Congress by donating today at

Supporting Students in Physics and Astronomy During Challenging Times

It’s not easy being a physics and astronomy undergraduate these days. Beyond the demanding curriculum in a normal year, students today continue to face unexpected challenges and situations resulting from the pandemic, climate change, and a shifting world. In addition to the conversion to online learning and discovering that lab time is limited, students have faced ongoing financial impacts, including lost internships and summer employment. Students are reporting increased academic costs, grappling with decreased financial support, and even in some cases facing food insecurity. Each of these challenges raises a barrier between the student and attainment of a college degree.

While American Institute of Physics (AIP) and SPS cannot solve the systemic issues that are causing financial distress for students during this extraordinary time, we can provide immediate support and thereby offset education-related expenses for those who are most in need and at risk of not being able to complete their education due to the effects of the pandemic. In addition, SPS surveys show that about one in five physics and astronomy students report that food security issues are actively impacting their education. More than one in four report the loss of summer funding, internships, or semester employment. To help alleviate this concern, AIP and SPS are in the process of providing seed money for chapters to start Food for Hungry Physics and Astronomy Students or equivalent food cabinets.

AIP-SPS Undergraduate Education Pandemic Assistance Program

The AIP-SPS Undergraduate Education Pandemic Assistance Program was established by AIP, the AIP Foundation, and donors of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma to assist students in completing their education who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and economic factors thereof. To help support students to continue their education, SPS will provide financial assistance to students in need.

Food for Hungry Physics and Astronomy Students

The Food for Hungry Physics Students program was established by AIP, the AIP Foundation, and donors of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma to assist students in completing their education who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic and economic factors thereof. To help alleviate food insecurity concerns for students, the Society of Physics Students will provide $300 in financial support for chapters to start food cabinets for hungry physics students in their departments. Chapters are to use funds for items that are freely accessible to all department undergraduates and are encouraged to fundraise to restock and maintain food cabinets beyond the seed funding. It is our hope that this helps to protect students’ and mentors’ physical and mental well-being.

If you would like to further the reach of either program, please visit and contribute to the AIP-SPS Undergraduate Student Pandemic Assistance Fund. These funds are directly distributed to undergraduate students and groups.