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Worth Seagondollar Service Award
Gary White is has served the societies of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma with a dedication and selflessness that is truly remarkable. Having served as Director of the organizations for a decade, Gary White transformed the organization into what we know it to be today. During his tenure, the modern structure of the Sigma Pi Sigma Congresses was tested and the publications of the SPS Observer and Radiations became what they are today. Dr. White has impacted an uncountable number of students and advisers through his work with the SPS Council and advisers across the world. Gary was named the 2017 SPS Outstanding Chapter Adviser for his tireless support of students at George Washington University.
Dr. White embodies the Sigma Pi Sigma pillars of honoring outstanding scholarship in physics and astronomy and encourage interest in physics and astronomy among students at all levels. In every way, he has served the Physics Community, Sigma Pi Sigma, and the Society of Physics Students with distinction.
Dr. Gary White currently works as an adjunct professor at The George Washington University and serves as the Advisor for their Society of Physics Students chapter. He earned his B.S. in Physics summa cum laude at Northeast Louisiana University and his Ph.D. in Physics at Texas A & M University. His passion for physics extends past the classroom, displayed by his membership in multiple organizations, including American Physical Society (APS), American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), Mathematics Association of America, and the Society of Physics Students (SPS). In 1999, Dr. White was elected President of the Executive Council for SPS and in 2009, was awarded the 2009 Distinguished Service Award by AAPT. Dr. White also served as Director of SPS from 2001-2012. He has also contributed to an array of publications, including works in the American Journal of Physics and in The Physics Teacher. Dr. White currently also serves as the editor for The Physics Teacher.
Outside of his accomplished resume of lectures, publications, and awards, Dr. White is known for more than just his passion for science and mathematics. His students emphasize the impact he leaves on their careers in physics, both academically and within extracurricular activities. He has been described as an advisor that “pushes [SPS’s] ideas to the next level” and allows the students to take initiative when it comes to planning and carrying out events. What separates Dr. White from other SPS advisors and professors his students have had is his willingness to fully devote his time and energy to them. He has done this so much so that the term “brown bag lunch” was coined to refer to the lunchtimes Dr. White sets aside solely to allow his students to speak freely “about physics and future events”. These are many of the reasons as to why Dr. White is described as an “indispensable” and “core piece of the department infrastructure” for those he interacts with at The George Washington University.
White received his B.S. in physics from Northeast Louisiana University in 1982, and his Ph.D. in nuclear theory at Texas A & M University (TAMU) in 1986. After a short stint at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he returned to his home state, developing research interests in ion beam physics and pedagogy. In addition to teaching physics and astronomy for over a decade at Northwestern State University of Louisiana (NSU), being awarded Outstanding Teacher by the NSU Alumni Association in 1996, he taught the mathematics sequence for engineers at TAMU and, most recently, physics for non-science majors at The George Washington University.
As SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma advisor at NSU, he guided the chapter to a significant increase in activity, including several SPS chapter awards for a variety of undergraduate research and outreach projects. In 1998, he was elected Society of Physics Students' Zone 10 Councilor and eventually, President of the National SPS Council.