Energizing our Community

Share This:



Message from the President

Energizing our Community


Jim Borgardt, Sigma Pi Sigma President

Jim Borgardt. Photo by Hyun Joo Kim.
One hundred years ago, Max Planck received the 1918 Nobel Prize in Physics “in recognition of the services he rendered to the advancement of Physics by his discovery of energy quanta.” Technically, he received the award in 1919, because the 1918 selection committee concluded none of the nominations offered that year satisfied the criteria Nobel outlined in establishing the awards. The committee opted instead to exercise a rule allowing them to postpone the 1918 award until 1919. Thus in 1919, Planck received the 1918 award in physics, and Johannes Stark received the 1919 award “for his discovery of the Doppler effect in canal rays and the splitting of spectral lines in electric fields.”

The Nobel laureates represent the most prestigious “honor society” we have in physics. Fortunately, for the many of us who may not rise to such recognition, we also have ΣΠΣ! As the national honor society for physics, ΣΠΣ offers unique opportunities to recognize accomplishment, augment your resume, and meet new like-minded people.

I believe there are many ways current ΣΠΣ members can contribute to our community which we haven’t fully recognized, just as today we are still unlocking the secrets of Planck’s energy quanta. There are latent and underutilized opportunities for ΣΠΣ members to enjoy the benefits of membership beyond the transient induction ceremony, and one of my hopes during my tenure of service is to better leverage these and more effectively engage ΣΠΣ alumni.

While many alumni donate gifts to ΣΠΣ through http://donate.aip.org to encourage and support undergraduate physics students with scholarships, career resources, and professional development, I hope to extend the scope of how ΣΠΣ alumni reach back to support and engage with current physics students. The alumni among us could each serve as a “ΣΠΣ energy quanta” through developing internship opportunities, greater interactions with nearby chapters, or volunteering to be on a speakers list that local ΣΠΣ chapters could query. In regards to the latter, the SPS/ΣΠΣ National Office has been working on a portal to gather information for willing speakers that will be rolled out in the coming weeks. Check out http://www.sigmapisigma.org for more details.

I would be glad to hear your comments on these ideas, as well as any other avenues by which we might strengthen our community and enhance the visibility of ΣΠΣ and its role in this regard.

Finally, I am honored to serve as the incoming Sigma Pi Sigma president and would like to publicly thank Willie Rockward, the outgoing president, who served two terms in this capacity. I look forward to carrying on the initiatives that Willie introduced and leading ΣΠΣ into our next century. You can reach me any time at borgardt [at] juniata.edu.

Science in general, and physics in particular, has so much to offer our country during these turbulent times. In this spirit, I hope to see you all at PhysCon 2019, November 14–16 in Providence, Rhode Island. This event affords us a wonderful opportunity to strengthen our community and will bring together more than 1,500 physics and astronomy students with mentors, alumni, and distinguished scientists as we meet to “Make Waves & Break Boundaries!”

More from this Department

Message from the President