The Jocelyn Bell Burnell Leadership Scholarship

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Member Notes

The Jocelyn Bell Burnell Leadership Scholarship


Jocelyn Bell Burnell shares dinner with Sylphrena Kleinsasser, a student at Lycoming College and member of the SPS Council, at the 2022 Physics Congress. Photo courtesy of Kleinsasser.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a luminary in the field of astronomy. She discovered radio pulsars, is a past president of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics, has made groundbreaking discoveries since she was a graduate student, and is a tireless advocate for diversity in science. To acknowledge the importance of her work and her support of our undergraduate community, the SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Executive Committee voted on December 8, 2022, to permanently name its highest leadership scholarship after Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. 

Bell Burnell is a dedicated and passionate supporter of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma. She served as a plenary speaker for the 2012 and 2016 Physics Congresses and led the 2019 and 2022 Physics Congresses as honorary chair. We’re thrilled to have her return as honorary chair in 2025, in Denver, Colorado. Bell Burnell generously shares her time at each congress, talking to everyone who wants to chat, take a selfie, or discuss the future of astronomy. She’s even helped the SPS staff fill swag bags for attendees.

The SPS scholarship program encourages the study of physics and astronomy and the pursuit of high scholarship, a pillar of Sigma Pi Sigma. Beginning in 2023, the top scholarship awardee will be named the Jocelyn Bell Burnell Leadership Scholarship Award winner and receive a $6,000 scholarship. The winner will be selected based on academic performance and leadership shown in their physics or astronomy department. Scholarship applications are due each year on March 15. For more information, please visit 

Get Involved with Sigma Pi Sigma


There are many ways to engage with the Sigma Pi Sigma community! Members volunteer at the Physics Congress, serve on panels, share their stories, and help guide the next generation of physicists and astronomers. Here are just a few ways you can get involved—if you have a great idea or volunteer story to share, please, send us a note at sigmapisigma [at]!


  • Suggest topics or submit articles for future issues
  • Build community by submitting a Member Note
  • Suggest a colleague to be featured as a Hidden Physicist or in an Alumni Spotlight
  • Share your nontraditional physics career through Hidden Physicists

Send us a note at sigmapisigma [at] with the subject “Radiations,” or submit a Hidden Physicist story or Member Note at


  • Connect with high school physics, astronomy, and science students
  • Participate in online message boards discussing physics and astronomy, careers, school, work–life balance, and more

Sign up this fall at

Alumni Engagement Program

  • Connect with Sigma Pi Sigma members and SPS alumni
  • Provide tours, job shadowing, mentorship, and professional development
  • Offer to be a speaker at local events or serve as a panelist

Sign up at

Other Opportunities

  • Start or join a social media group for your chapter 
  • Connect with local physics and astronomy departments
  • Participate in local job and career fairs
  • Reach out to nearby chapters for collaboration

Short on time? Consider financially supporting students through scholarships, career resources, and professional development at




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