Society of Physics Students

About The Society of Physics Students (SPS)

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association open to anyone interested in physics. One does not have to be a Physics Major to be a member.

At the global level, SPS members include not only physics majors, but also students and professionals in astronomy, chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, medicine, and other fields. Within SPS is a separate association, Sigma Pi Sigma. Sigma Pi Sigma is the national honor society, which elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievements.

Here at Marshall, our SPS organization is mostly comprised of physics and engineering majors; however, we are always looking to recruit from other majors, especially those in science education or STEM related fields. The main objectives of SPS at Marshall are to encourage interested students in the sciences, and physics in particularly, to develop and grow in their knowledge base of science and physics related research, develop a strong collegiate bond between faculty and students, promote public interest and awareness in science in general and specifically physics, and recognize high levels of student achievements by means of a Sigma Pi Sigma induction.

Our Society of Physics Students (SPS) group here at Marshall is always looking for ways to increase the number of students in the Physics Department, STEM sciences, and SPS; along the way, we do fun events with both the academic and surrounding communities. Yearly objectives for our SPS chapter are to enter at least one national design/build team competition and travel to tour at least one graduate research program or national research laboratory. These events will not be possible without active and rigorous fundraising (or applications for financial awards). Annually our SPS group co-sponsors a Physics Department/SPS recruitment BBQ where students and faculty get to know each other better, SPS participates in Marshall’s Week of Welcome carnival, an event used to recruit more students to physics and SPS, and participates in High School Physics Day, and the College of Science, Science bash in the fall and College of Science Science Blitz in the spring. SPS is also always looking for ways to do local community outreach, service, and volunteer work.

Click here to link to Marshall’s Physics Department Scholarship Page for all scholarships available to current Marshall students and ones specifically for current Marshall physics students, including ones available for SPS members. For a more in-depth presentation of the benefits of being an SPS member click here. Click here to find out information on deadlines for awards and scholarships.

SPS Fall Deadlines Approaching


The Society of Physics Students was formed in 1968 with a constitution that combined its two “parent” organizations, The AIP Student Sections and the Sigma Pi Sigma honor society. SPS now has over 800 chapters on campuses across the country. The associated honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma, now exists in about 575 of those chapters with over 90,000 inductees throughout its history.

Purpose and Mission

SPS is a chapter-based society that exists to help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community. Traditional coursework develops only one range of skills. Other skills needed to flourish professionally include effective communication and personal interactions, leadership experience, establishing a personal network of contacts, presenting scholarly work in professional meetings and journals, research experiences, and outreach services to the campus and local communities. Through its members, advisers, chapters, and leadership, SPS enables national initiatives and local impacts within the community. Locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally, the SPS offers the opportunity for these important enrichments to the student’s experience.

Want to become a Member?

If you want get involved in SPS and eventually become a member, contact Dr. Sean P. McBride, current SPS faculty advisor as of August 2017 ( or go to one of the weekly meetings (New Meeting Time for Fall 2017: 10am on Mondays in the Science Building, room 281, you don’t have to go to every meeting to become a member and you don’t have to be a physics major either). Bring a friend. If you really want to get involved in SPS and have a leadership role as a SPS member, which looks great on resumes for grad school, you are encouraged you to apply for an officer position.

Emily Sutherland, SPS President (F17-S18)
Senior, Applied Physics Major

Aaron Murphy, SPS Vice President (F17-S18) 
Junior, Mechanical Engineering Major

Jason Holland, SPS Treasurer (F17-S18)
Sophomore, Physics Major

Logan Sutphin, SPS Secretary (F17-S18)
Sophomore, Engineering BSE Major

Emma Lockyer,
SPS Member & Physics Dept./SPS
FB Administrator (F17-S18)
Senior, Physics Major

Casey Frye
SPS Member & Recruitment Officer
Mechanical Engineering Major

Jayden Leonard
SPS Member
Junior, Physics Major

Alex Toler
SPS Member
Freshmen, N/A

Chase Preston
SPS Member
Junior, Health Sciences

Josh Mason
SPS Member
Junior, Engineering BSE, Civil

Andrew Meredith
SPS Member
Junior, Electric/Computer Eng.

Steven Johnson
SPS Member
Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

Gregory Hart
SPS Member
Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

Graig Fischer
SPS Member
Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering

Josh Moore
SPS Member
Senior, Electrical/computer Eng.

Matthew Fielder
SPS Member
Freshmen, N/A

Community Outreach

Dr. Jon Saken from the Marshall University Physics Department and Chase Preston from the Society of Physics Students debuted the Physics Department’s portable planetarium at Meadows Elementary school (1-26-2018). The students got to explore the cosmos without leaving the comfort of their gymnasium. Everyone enjoyed themselves, including Dr. Saken and Chase.

SPS had a great time shooting some hoops with some of the kids at the local  A.D. Lewis Center (11-16-17). Fun was had by all. The kids loved it and spending the time with them was well worth it. Hopefully this is something SPS can do more often when time permits.


Fundraising is also and important aspect for our SPS group. The money raised will allow the group to tour graduate research programs and/or national research laboratories along with buy supplies for national build competitions. See below flyers for up coming Movie Nights and Coffee and Doughnuts on Buskirk Field. See the Upcoming Events link on the Physics Department homepage for events that SPS will likely be participating in. Below we see SPS member selling coffee and donuts on Buskirk field to raise money for these purposes.

Physics T-Shirts and Sweatshirts are available. See Dr. McBride in Room S152 in the Science Building. Suggested Donations are $15 for a T-Shirt and $20 for a sweatshirt.

Motor Madness with Spring Valley High School!
November 29th, 2017

In a motor workshop led by Dr. Sean P. McBride and the Society of Physics Students, students from Spring Valley High School got to build Beakman Motors and learned how electric currents, magnetic moments, and applied magnetic fields interact to produce a torque in a motor . The students got to take home their motors home and the winners with the fastest motors received an official Physics Department T-shirt or sweatshirt. Everyone enjoyed themselves. The aim for the motor madness workshop was such that the experience would encouraged and strengthen the students interest and curiosity in science and in particular physics (and have fun in the process with a little friendly competition). Students, please contact Dr. McBride ( if you have question about what you did today or want to learn more about what a degree in Physics can offer you.

Motor Madness with Westside High School!
November 8th, 2017

The  Society of Physics Students had a great time building Beckman motors with students from Westside High School. The aim for the motor madness workshop led by Dr. Sean P. McBride and the Society of Physics Students was such that the experience would encouraged and strengthen the students interest and curiosity in science and in particular physics (and have fun in the process). The students got a hands-on chance to learn how currents, magnetic moments, and applied magnetic fields interact to produce a torque. The students got to take their motors home and the winners with the fastest motors received an official Physics Department T-shirt or sweatshirt.

The Haunted Hovercraft!

The Physics Department welcomed K-12 students and families to the College of Science “Science Bash” in the Science Building on November 4th, 2017. This was a Halloween focused family/community science event put on by COS with tons of hands-on activities. COS made sure to have traditional events like pumpkin carving and everything was intertwined with science fun. It was a Halloween science-themed event. The Physics Department brought the hovercraft built by Dr. Sean P. McBride so your kids (and you) can float like a ghost through the halls of the Science Building. See pics below of all the kids enjoying it. A major part of the hovercraft’s success was in no small part due to the time devoted by the Society of Physics Students members helping to push kids down the hall and handing out recruitment information to interested parents.

SPS President Emily Sutherland hosts Major Omar Angelo Nava 

On October 30th, 2017,  thanks to SPS President Emily Sutherland, SPS students got to have a nice discussion with Major Omar Angelo Nava, Ph.D., from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Major Nava talked to students about STEM careers and how they intertwine with a career in the military. SPS students also learned about internships and possible research opportunities that exist for both physics and engineering majors at AFIT.

Physics Research Orientation Day and BBQ
October 18th, 2017

As part of Physics Week, from 4-6pm, the Physics Department faculty gave brief 10 minute talks describing their research interests over coffee and light refreshments (see schedule of talks); the talks culminated with BBQ food being served on Buskirk Field from 6-8pm. The BBQ at Physics Research Orientation Day was sponsored by the Physics Department along with the Marshall University’s Chapter of the Society of Physics Students. The objectives of these annual talks and casual BBQ are to inform not only newly enrolled Physics majors of the research opportunities that exist within the department, but to also to inform local area high school teachers of the research opportunities that are available to their students when they become interested in science and specifically physics. The inaugural set of talks and BBQ were both fantastic this year! There was plenty of discussion and more than enough food to go around! All high school teachers are always welcome to this event every fall. Please RSVP for Fall 2018 talks and BBQ with Dr. Sean P. McBride at

The Great American Eclipse
August 21st, 2017

Recently, the SPS group here at Marshall participated in the solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017. This was an event hosted by the College of Science as well as West Virginia Science Adventures. This was a huge event with thousands of people. Our SPS group  helped organized so that several Dobsonian telescopes were available on Buskirk field for the public. They also helped with set-up and tear down for the event, participated in practice runs for telescope training, and spent a good part of the ~ 3-hour event running our tracking telescope with an additional high school volunteer student.

 The Week of Welcome Carnival
August 20th, 2017

On August 20th, 2017 the SPS group participated in the WoW carnival at Marshall’s Week of Welcome. This was a very fun opportunity for SPS to recruit majors and minors for the department and SPS. The Physics Department’s main attraction for the event was our carnival style projectile launcher game where students could launch mini cannon ball like projectiles at a target to compete for prizes. SPS members and new students alike enjoyed this event and everyone looks forward to the next one.


Also, check us out on the Marshall Physics Facebook Page

Some information in “About The Society of Physics Students, Purpose and Mission, and History” sections are provided by:

Contact if you have trouble accessing the Physics Department website or experience errors. Questions about the content can also be addressed to