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The Next 100 Years of Physics and Astronomy:
The Next 100 Years of Physics and Astronomy:
Supporting Sigma Pi Sigma and the Society of Physics StudentsBy:
Director B. R. Conrad and the Student Leaders of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma
Sigma Pi Sigma was originally formed to help strengthen the community of physics and astronomy students nearly 100 years ago. Despite its age, it continues to play a fundamental role in building strong departments and growing the next generation of community leaders by directly enabling student- and faculty-led initiatives. By providing student leaders with opportunities to grow both professionally and interpersonally, Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS can support these unique initiatives at over 800 different schools across the globe. As a cornerstone of the physics and astronomy community, we aim to help students and faculty build an organization that represents who they are and their values.
We asked student members to share in their own words why they choose to support SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma.
“Supporting SPS is important because it is an organization which is actually transforming the lives of students aspiring to become professionals in physics. So many important skills are not taught in the classroom, and SPS constantly strives to provide these opportunities for students to develop the vast range of research and communication skills essential to becoming a strong contributing member to the scientific community. Without SPS I would not have the abilities that I do today nor the confidence to continue the pursuit of my goals.”
Brigette Smith, 2019, SPS leader at Coe College and Associate Zone Councilor, Zone 11
“SPS is an organization for undergrads that study physics and astronomy. The only requirement to join is to have an interest in those topics, which makes this club super inclusive. It can be scary for younger students who are just starting to enter the field, so being surrounded by students who are going through the same experiences or have gone through them recently can be helpful and comforting in a way. SPS provides this community of people who are excited about their studies and are willing to share their excitement with their peers to help them figure out how to navigate physics and astronomy or even figure out if it is the right fit.”
Nour Ibrihim, SPS leader at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Prescott and 2019 SPS Outreach Intern, 2021 Physics Congress Planning Committee
“SPS has connected me to physicists from across the country and to a national community I didn’t even know existed. SPS matters because physics is more than just classes.”
Nathan Foster, former SPS member at Tufts University and 2018 Science Policy News Intern
“As someone who went to a smaller institution with no Sigma Pi Sigma chapter, our SPS group was the reason I got involved with the department, met other students in the program, and participated in opportunities that helped jumpstart my career. I’m not sure I could have done all that without SPS.”
, former SPS leader at University of Alaska Fairbanks and 2019 Physics Congress workshop leader
“When I look back on my college experience and think about the ‘good times,’ 9/10 of those experiences were connected to my SPS chapter. The experiences I had with my SPS chapter were fun, but they also prepared me for graduate school. Without the experiences I had in SPS I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Tori Eng, former Associate Zone Councilor, Zone 11, and 2017 SPS History of Physics Intern
While the American Institute of Physics supports the SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma organizations, we rely on the donations of community members to directly fund student grants, awards, and scholarships. Several funds have been established to directly impact the community of Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS chapters and support student-led initiatives. Each fund addresses a different need within the community:
Congress Student Travel Fund
Supports students traveling to the 2021 Physics Congress in Washington, DC, by underwriting airfare, lodging, registration, and meals. Often students use these funds to bridge the gap between fundraising and attendance.
Sigma Pi Sigma Annual Fund
Provides merit- and need-based scholarships for undergraduate students as well as grant funding for chapters to conduct science outreach in their local communities. Awards include support for future teachers and those that display excellence in service.
Sigma Pi Sigma Endowment
Supports society-wide initiatives, professional development programs, and ensures that students in future generations will have the opportunity to participate in Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS events.
Mather Science Policy Internship Fund
Continues the work of Nobel laureate John Mather to bring science students to Capitol Hill for summer internships to bridge the gap between scientists and policymakers through science policy.
Sigma Pi Sigma Centennial Fund
In celebration of the upcoming centennial of Sigma Pi Sigma in 2021, a new endowment is being established to secure the future of the Physics Congresses for generations to come. This fund will be used to establish an endowment to underwrite future Physics Congresses.
The linked but distinct societies of Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS are volunteer driven, and it is only through the support of our community that we are able to ensure that future generations have experiences that mirror the comments of the student leaders above. We each play our own part in making the community the welcoming and accepting place it needs to be, and I thank you for that. I invite you to join us in contributing to the next generation and the second 100 years of Sigma Pi Sigma.