Society of Physics Students
Pamphlet Text

Table of Contents:

What is SPS?

The Society of Physics Students is a professional physics association explicitly designed for students. Membership, through collegiate chapters, is open to anyone interested in physics. Within SPS, Sigma Pi Sigma, a nationally recognized scholastic honor society, inducts members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement. This two-in-one Society operates within the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

 The SPS is essentially a self-governing society created to serve the interests undergraduate and graduate students in physics. It was formed in April 1968, from the union of the AIP Students Sections and Sigma Pi Sigma. The Student Sections had been established by AIP. Sigma Pi Sigma originated as a local honor society at Davidson College, North Carolina, in 1921.

 At present there are over 600 active chapters of SPS on campuses across the country. Approximately 6,000 students take part in the chapter activities, making SPS the fourth largest physics society in the country. Over 400 chapters include the honor society as part of their activities and have about 2,500 active members. Total membership in Sigma Pi Sigma, including alumni, exceeds 58,000.


To the Individual Student

Your SPS chapter is largely autonomous. Only those items specified in the national SPS constitution are limiting factors. The constitution can be amended only on recommendation of the National Council followed by approval from two-thirds of the SPS chapters. Thus SPS is your society and deserves your active participation and support. We urge you to use your membership in the Society of Physics Students to participate in the physics community, both on your own campus and on the regional and national levels.


Why Join SPS?

The Society provides each student the opportunity of participating in the physics community on a professional basis. Chapter meetings can provide an opportunity for discussions on the relation of science to other fields, e.g., political science, art, music, etc. The only limitation is the imagination of your group.

Regional and National Meetings enable SPS members to get together as physics students to discuss their mutual problems and exchange ideas. Many of these meeting include sessions where students can present papers on their activities, including research projects. Nationally know physicists are invited to present papers describing work at the forefront of physics.

 Members of SPS receive Physics Today, the publication sent to all members of AIP Member Societies; the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics, where student research is published; and the SPS Newsletter, published five times per year, which covers local, regional, and national SPS activities and includes the latest job information. They may subscribe at special member rates to AIP and Member Society journals including: American Journal of Physics, The Physics Teacher, Applied Physics Letters, Journal of Applied Physics, The Journal of Chemical Physics, Computers in Physics,Journal of Mathematical Physics, Physics of Fluids, Review of Scientific Instruments, Physics of Plasmas, and Chaos.

SPS members may apply for one of the SPS Scholarships. Marsh White Awards are given to SPS chapters "to support projects designed to promote interest in physics among students and the general public." The Sigma Pi Sigma Undergraduate Research Award program provides, on the basis of an annual competition among active SPS chapters, calendar year grants to support local chapter activities that are deemed imaginative and likely to contribute to the strengthening of the SPS program. All services of AIP, including the placement service, are available to the members of SPS.


What is the National Organization?

The policies of SPS are set by the National Council, which is elected by chapters within geographic zones. Faculty members are nominated by chapters to represent their zones as Councilors. If elected they will serve for three-year terms. The President of the SPS National Council and the President of Sigma Pi Sigma are elected by the chapters for two-year terms. Associate Councilors, students themselves, are also nominated by the chapters and are elected for one-year terms. Both Councilors and Associate Councilors participate in zone activities and in the annual policy-making meeting of the Council. Councilors organize committees within zones and serve on committees of the National Council. The Director of SPS is a salaried physicist, designated by AIP to administer the National Office's services and programs for SPS members.


What Do the Chapters Do?

Chapters promote activities for all students interested in physics. They act as a service organization for the physics department and help to popularize physics with the general collegiate public.

 Chapters are encouraged to assist students in developing the knowledge, competence, enthusiasm, and social responsibility essential to the advancement of physics. They provide the opportunity to develop closer interaction between students and faculty in both social and professional activities.

 Eligible SPS chapters, with a Sigma Pi Sigma chapter, award recognition and distinction to students who have achieved high scholarship by electing them to membership in Sigma Pi Sigma.


What Does it Cost?

To cover, in part, the cost of the Society's services, members pay annual national dues of $13. The remaining costs are covered by AIP funds. Members receive a membership card to show their membership in SPS and may purchase lapel emblems or pins.

 Local dues are set by individual chapters. Our SPS Chapter requires $10 a semester membership due. Most AIP member societies offer combined SPS and student membership and reduced rates.


What is AIP?

The American Institute of Physics was founded in 1931 as a membership corporation of the leading societies in the field of physics. It combines into one operating agency those functions on behalf of physics which can best be done by the societies jointly. Its purpose is the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its applications to human welfare. It is a major publisher of scientific journals.


How is a Chapter Formed?

All that's needed is a group of interested students, a faculty advisor, and the approval of the physics department to petition for an SPS chapter. Petition forms are available from the National Office. A chapter can be established at any accredited college or university. Only a chapter at a college or university offering a physics major is eligible to form an SPS chapter.


SPS Address and Phone Numbers

Society of Physics Students

American Institute of Physics

One Physics Ellipse

 College Park, MD 20740

 TEL: (301) 209-3007

 FAX: (301) 209-0839