Strengthening the SPS Community

Share This:




Strengthening the SPS Community


Katherine Zaunbrecher, Member-At-Large (2016–2022), SPS Executive Committee

Katherine Zaunbrecher. Photo courtesy

Recently, I have felt incredibly grateful to be a part of the SPS and physics community. Community is essential to me. The relationships that we establish in our communities are important ones. This has been especially true over the past two and a half years. Dealing with isolation, disruption, and so many other challenges has meant relying on others to help us through those struggles. As we transition into a more normal state, whatever that looks like, it is important that we foster these relationships and continue building new ones.

It is time to rekindle traditions, rebuild culture, and recruit new members into our physics and astronomy family. This year, SPS is extending a special “welcome” to our astronomy members and clubs. I say “welcome” because they have always been an integral part of SPS, but the language in our constitution has recently changed to reflect that. So use this time to strengthen and revitalize your SPS chapter and physics and astronomy clubs. Ensure that our astronomy members feel welcome in the SPS family. Extend personal invitations to new students and those whose first years at college were disrupted by the pandemic. Doing these things will benefit everyone.

There are many ways to foster community. You can host study sessions in your lounge, resume pizza parties, hold interactive SPS meetings, and plan Sigma Pi Sigma inductions. If current circumstances make hosting events difficult right now, plan virtual meetups or outdoor events. This issue of The SPS Obsever highlights several ideas for building community, and I encourage you to reach out to your advisor, the SPS National Council, and the SPS National Office for more ideas and support. You can also check out the SPS website for resources at

Hopefully, you and your classmates were able to attend the Sigma Pi Sigma Congress in October in Washington, DC, where hundreds of physics and astronomy students celebrated the 100th anniversary of the founding of Sigma Pi Sigma. If not, check out the online talks on the @SPSNational YouTube channel. I hope the energy of that event takes hold in your chapter. And encourage your chapter to start planning now to attend the 2025 Congress!

As I finish my term as at-large member of the SPS Executive Committee, I want to thank you. You are part of a great organization that offers support and opportunities to so many students (and advisors). It has been
a privilege to serve you—and a very fun and memorable six years!

The SPS National Council

The SPS National Council is the governing body for the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics and astronomy honor society. SPS is organized into 18 geographic zones, and each one is represented by an elected faculty zone councilor and student associate zone councilor. The council also includes the elected presidents of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma, the director of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma, an appointed historian, appointed at-large member, AZC representative, and the CEO of AIP. Elections are held each spring.

To meet the current council and get information on running for the 2023–24 council, visit

The 2021–22  National Council  at its fall meeting.  Photo by SPS.

More from this department