Society of Physics Students

SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Logos






2022-2023 SPS T-shirts on sale now, scroll to the very bottom for details!

About The Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma

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 (ΣΠΣ). Sigma Pi Sigma is the national physics and astronomy honor society, which elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievements. Induction into Sigma Pi Sigma shall be based upon character and academic and professional attainments and is not restricted to physics majors. The Marshall University Chapter of SPS celebrated the 100th Birthday of ΣΠΣ in the spring 2022 semester when a celebration could occur face-to-face. A presentation on the history of both the MU chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma and the MU chapter of the Society of Physics Students, illustrating who were the key players in their development, was provided. That presentation with hyperlinks is available here (provided by Faculty SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Advisor, Dr. Sean P. McBride): MU SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Chapters


The Society of Physics Students was formed in 1968 with a constitution that combined its two “parent” organizations, The American Institute of Physics (AIP) Student Sections and the Sigma Pi Sigma honor society. SPS now has over 850 chapters on campuses across the country. The associated honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma, now exists in about 600 of those chapters with over 100,000 inductees throughout its history. Marshall University’s Society of Physics Students has roots that extend back to 1960 when the AIP first recognized an AIP student Section from, then, Marshall College under Physics Department Chair Dr. Donald C. Martin. Marshall College was elevated to Marshall University in 1961 under the advisement of Dr. Stewart H. Smith, the seventh and longest serving Marshall University President in the history of the institution. Marshall University established its Sigma Pi Sigma Chapter in 2008 under the advisement of Dr. Ralph E. Oberly (Marshall Physics Professor for 49 years from 1970-2019 and Chair of the Physics Department to follow after Dr. Martin).

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.

SPS at Marshall is a Nationally Recognized Student Organization

Marshall University’s SPS Organization has been nationally recognized the last four consecutive academic years by the National SPS Office. When you see a student member of the Society of Physics Students, make sure to congratulate them on earning the title of a Distinguished Society of Physics Student Chapter for the 17-19 academic years and an Outstanding SPS Chapter award for the 2019-2021 academic years! A Society of Physics Students Outstanding Chapter award is the highest level of distinction given to SPS chapters and is received by less than 10-15% of the top chapters annually, with just 96 of 844 chapters so honored in the 2020 year and 80 of 844 in the 2021 year. The Distinguished Chapter awards prior, put the group in the top 22% of all SPS chapters during that time. “We at the SPS National Office want to take this opportunity to commend and applaud you for your tireless efforts to enrich the SPS community. It is because of your dedication and commitment to the SPS mission and vision that we are able to foster such a strong SPS community” – Brad R. Conrad, Ph.D., Director, Society of Physics Students & Sigma Pi Sigma (ΣΠΣ).​

All 4 Awards SPS Marshall University Chapter

The Marshall University Chapter of the Society of Physics Students

Here at Marshall, during the above award years, the make-up of the SPS organization has fluctuated from being mostly comprised of physics majors to only having a few physics majors; the group is always looking to recruit from other majors, especially those in science education or STEM related fields. The main objective of SPS at Marshall is to have fun as a group. We 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.

Since fall 2019, decided by the then current SPS members and continued until now, it was decided that SPS would be more of an outreach and recruiting student organization for those in the Physics Department who are involved in outreach or assisting with the group’s own outreach activities that they devise. In spring 2020, through Fall 2021, many of the planned outreach events were cancelled; however, SPS students were still able to conduct virtual outreach and promote physics and the department via their virtual Faces of Physics speaker Seriesand Science Olympiad Coaching (more details for both found below). The SPS group does have interests in fundraising activities in an effort to save money to go on a fun/cool/educational trip at the end of either the semester or academic year depending on how much money is raised and available. At the end of every semester would be ideal for a trip. This trip could be to a national lab/school/graduate program/etc. An additional goal for SPS will also be networking for the students for future employment; so, meetings will likely host speakers from academia and industry.

Want to Become a SPS Member at Marshall University?

If you want get involved in SPS and become a member, contact Dr. Sean P. McBride, current SPS faculty advisor as of August 2017 ( or go to one of the SPS meetings. 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 or employment, you are encouraged you to apply for an officer position. Meeting times and locations change each semester, contact Dr. McBride for the most current information. All majors and all academic ranks from freshmen to graduate students are welcome to attend meetings and join the club!

Current Officers Elected Post Spring 2022: Eli Williamson (President), AJ Messinger (Vice President),
Victoria Maynor (Treasurer), Liv Stockwin (Secretary), Kolbey Walker (Social Media Officer), and Peter Burbery (recruitment Officer)

SPS Advisor:          Dr. Sean P. McBride (, Assistant Professor, Physics

  • The following link will allow you to register to become an official member: Join SPS National | Society of Physics Students
  • Membership dues are only $24 per year (costs may be covered by the local SPS endowment funds, talk to Dr. McBride, see below).
  • Memberships will be covered according the MU SPS Chapter bylaws if members are active over the membership year in which they purchased.

Marshall Physics Department and National SPS Scholarships and Awards Available!

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 national SPS deadlines for awards and scholarships.

MU SPS Chapter Article Contributions to ‘The SPS Observer’

” The SPS Observer is the quarterly magazine of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) published by SPS and the American Institute of Physics (AIP). Four issues are mailed each academic year: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer. Subscriptions are included in your SPS national membership dues. Each issue contains interesting feature articles, advice from experienced voices, chapter interactions and activities, physics problems, society news, announcements, and meeting notes from SPS reporters. ~ About The SPS Observer | Society of Physics Students (” Over the years the SPS advisor, officers, and members have contributed three articles to the nationally in print distributed magazine.


Faces of Physics Speaker Series from November 2020 through fall 2022

Faces of Physics Marshall UniversityMarshall University’s Society of Physics Students Continuing to host the Faces of Physics Speaker Series from November 2020 through fall 2022.

Would you like to learn more about the search for life in space, planets around other stars, the quest to understand and cure cancer, mysterious outer space clocks called pulsars, improving physics labs for students, student perspectives on graduate school, and get a chance to meet and ask questions to brilliant scientists who are asking big questions and making exciting discoveries? Then please join us for the Faces of Physics Speaker Series, hosted by Marshall University’s Society of Physics Students from November 2020 through fall 2022. Each month during the regular academic semesters, a guest speaker will give a ~ 45-minute talk on their current research, followed by a Q&A session with attendees. The talks will be held virtually through YouTube Live and are free and open to the public and will be appropriate for all ages. The goal of the event is to highlight the work of researchers from underrepresented groups to promote inclusion and inspire the next generation of scientists to see a place for themselves in the exciting field of physics. To stay up to date on information pertaining to the event, sign up for the mailing list below or follow Marshall University Physics on Facebook 

Click the following link to receive information about the Society of Physics Students upcoming fall 2020 through fall 2022 speaker series, “Faces of Physics”:

This speakers series started out as a single event planned on campus and partially funded via the Future Faces of Physics Award for spring 2020 from the National SPS Office (American Institute of Physics), but covid-19 had other plans and it was radically transformed for fall 2020. The story of how this single Campus Event Turned Virtual Speaker Series is featured in the Spring 2021 edition of The SPS Observer. The SPS Observer is the quarterly magazine of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) published by SPS and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and is distributed nationally.

The speakers for the Faces of Physics speaker’s series in fall 2021 through fall 2022 will be supported by external funding: Financial Support for the Faces of Physics speaker’s series will made possible by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium (grant# 80NSSC20M0055). At times the series was funded by the American Institute of Physics and the SPS chapter itself.

Fall 2022 Faces of Physics Speakers

To be Announced….check back for updated information.

Previous Faces of Physics Speakers and Links to Their Videos (click on speaker name for their bio and or supporting info):

Dr. Tina Cartwright –  Career Trajectories and Pluto (?), Saturday, April 21st, 2022, 6:30 pm ET.

Dr. Cheng Cen – Quantum Phases on Demand, Department of Physics and Astronomy at West Virginia University, Friday, March 25th, 2022, 7 pm ET.

Dr. Natasha G. Holmes – The Trouble with Traditional Physics Labs, Department of Physics at Cornell University, Friday, February 25th, 2022, 4-5pm ET.

Emily Sutherland – Undergraduate Student to Doctoral Candidate: A Marshall Alumna’s Perspective, Physics PhD candidate at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, December 2, 2021, 7 p.m.

Dr. Mark William Ruzindana– Postdoctoral Scholar in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute at the University of California Berkeley, November 17, 2021, 7 p.m.

Ms. Keeisi Analy Caballero Valdez – Director of Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Expanding Frontiers, October 25, 2021, 7 p.m.

Dr. Caitlin Ahrens – NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center, September 16, 2021, 7 p.m.

Dr. Bob Lutz – NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), May 12, 2021, 7 p.m.

Dr. Pranav Sanghavi – West Virginia University, April 12, 2021, 7 p.m.

Dr. Kandice Tanner – Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute –March 17, 2021, 7pm

Dr. Abel Mendez – Planetary Habitability Lab. at Univ. of Puerto Rico at Arecibo – Feb. 16, 2021, 7:00 pm

Dr. Bryan Kent Wallace – Fisk University — Jan 20 2021, 7:00 pm

Karen Perez — Columbia University – Dec. 1, 2020, 7;00 pm –

Dr. Lewandowska – Haverford College -November 18th, 2020, 7:00 pm –

MU SPS Receives a $25,000 Endowment + $3,000 in Fluid Funds for Activities

Established June 7th 2021 – This endowment and fund was made possible by the very kind, generous, and patient Dr. Frederick W. Smith.

Dr. Frederick W. Smith grew up in Huntington, West Virginia. He is the son of a former Marshall University President [1946-1968], Stewart H. Smith. In 1960, he graduated from Marshall High School (which was then on the Marshall College campus) and then pursued a B.A. degree in physics from Lehigh University and graduated in 1964. He then went on to Brown University and graduated with a PhD in solid state physics in 1969. After a postdoc at Rutgers University, he joined the faculty of the Physics Department of the City College of the City University of New York in 1970. There he had a 43 year long career as a physicist teaching and conducting experimental research in solid state physics and materials science. He is coauthor with Prof. Joel Gersten on the textbook “The Physics and Chemistry of Materials” and is an author of over 80 publications.

Dr. Smith read about the activities of the SPS chapter at Marshall in the Marshall Alumni Bulletin in January 2021 and wanted to contribute to the activities of the physics students. He wanted advice on what are some of the needs of the SPS students. The Society of Physics Students Fund for the Marshall University Chapter of SPS was established 6 months later in June 2021. Dr. Frederick W. Smith has committed to establishing a $25,000 endowment for the Marshall University Society of Physics Students for use in SPS events and activities. This translates to the SPS chapter having access to roughly $500 a semester from this endowment when it matures, during which time, an additional $3,000 has been provided to assist with annual activities. The establishment of this fund will enable SPS to further increase their impact on our local community and will increase exciting professional growth opportunities for Marshall’s physics majors as well.

As a result of the establishment of this endowed Fund by Dr. Smith, it is the hope that all physics majors at Marshall University will also be SPS members; therefore, both the SPS group will remain strong for generations to come and all the physics majors will benefit from this Fund. The Fund has been specifically established to be for the activities carried out by the SPS members. The students in the MU SPS group are to decide how the funds are to be used. The physics students in MU SPS are forever grateful for Dr. Smith’s kindness, generosity, and patience, all qualities of which helped make this fund possible.

Recent SPS News and Activities from the 2021-2022 Academic Year

Motor Madness 6-16-2021 and the Physics of Roller Coasters 7/1/2021!

Upward Bound students from Marshall University over summer 2021 got to participate in two different workshops hosted by the Department of Physics and run by SPS leaders. A hands-on motor workshop was conducted on June 16th. The students got to build their own motors and the fastest one from each group received a prize, Department of Physics sweatshirts. Additionally, a rollercoaster workshop was also run on July 1st. The aim of this rollercoaster workshop was to provide them the knowledge of how energy and motion contribute to the sensations we feel when riding rollercoasters. All were students were socially distanced and wearing masks. They put this information to good use on a separate trip to Cedar Point in Ohio through Upward Bound.  The Society of Physics Students (SPS) sponsored the roller coaster workshop by providing candy to those who volunteered to answer questions. Dr. McBride helped to run the workshops and was assisted by SPS member Alec O’Dell and his undergraduate research student, Carrie Cockerham, an undergraduate civil engineering major.

Summer 2021 SPS and Physics Major Recruitment!

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) Advisor, Dr. Sean P. McBride, an Assistant Professor of Physics at Marshall University, was happy and excited to participate in Marshall University approved face-to-face recruiting events over  summer 2021 on behalf of the SPS group (many SPS students went home for the summer). At said events, he recruited for the Physics Department, which also contains the Marshall University Chapter of the Society of Physics Students. There were four main recruiting events attended, with the largest one being Recsest August 21, 2021! The other three events were held in the Don Morris Room and lobby of the Memorial Student Center on July 15th and 16th, and August 5th. Dr. McBride showed some cool physics demos and also showcased many of the awards and distinctions that the SPS Chapter here on campus has received over recent years. Below we see what one of the joint tabling efforts looked like (left) as well as meeting one of our future award-winning Physics majors and SPS member Joeseph Powell for one of the first times (right).

SPS Fall 2021 Recruitment and Welcome Cookout!

In the fall 2021 semester on October 9th, the SPS had a good old fashion barbecue, which was hosted by then SPS Vice President Peter Burberry and his parents at their home. This was an outdoor event that involved many of the new SPS members and most of the SPS officers and Peter’s family. There was a quick Zoom call during this outing for then SPS President Ellie White who was unable to attend the barbecue in person. All SPS members were well fed and everyone got to chat and meet each other. It was really a great time! All SPS members thanked Tim and Hannah Burbery for hosting this great event. Invitations were sent to all physics majors and pre-majors in an effort to attract new members. All the food was sponsored by the MU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students through the endowed Society of Physics Students Fund.

SPS members participate in Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone workshop!

Members of Marshall University’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) participated in the Great Lunar Expedition for Everyone (GLEE) workshop Oct. 21-24 in Boulder, Colorado. This opportunity for travel and supplies awarded was in excess of $4,000 and was sponsored by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium. Students A.J. Messinger and Peter Burbery, led by Assistant Professor Dr. Sean P. McBride of Marshall’s Department of Physics, joined 19 other teams chosen from high schools, community colleges and universities across the country for this beta version of the hands-on workshop. The GLEE mission aims to deploy 500 LunaSats to the lunar surface of the moon to conduct local and distributed science missions. LunaSats are spacecraft, small enough to fit in one’s hand, that have an array of sensors onboard. The Marshall students who participated in the beta version of the hands-on GLEE workshop have secured their spot for an anticipated December 2023 lunar landing and will be LunaSat assistants for the Spring 2022 virtual workshop. Peter and AJ  worked hard and played hard. After the workshop concluded, students hiked around the Lost Gulch Overlook area before catching their flight. To the right we see A.J. Messinger standing in what appears to be a precarious position on a rock face at roughly 7600 feet above sea level. Checkout the GLEE website for the most up to date information on GLEE.

SPS Participates in Huntington Middle School Pumpkin Drop (11-9-2021)!

Congratulations to the winners of the Huntington Middle School Pumpkin Drop created and led by Ms. Leann Haines! The event was a huge success and enjoyed by all involved! All ~50 contestants in grades 6th through 8th made their way to the roof of the middle school building on a beautiful brisk 39-degree Fahrenheit morning for device check-in at 8 am. All devices passed with few infractions. As the pumpkin enclosures dropped, and the temperatures warmed, only two teams emerged victorious with their pumpkins surviving the near 40-foot free fall off the roof. Judges, Dr. Sean P. McBride (SPS Advisor) and Dr. Maria Hamilton from the Marshall University Physics Department were on hand to judge devices at check-in, and post impact, as well as assisted in releasing the pumpkin enclosures off the roof. Many thanks to Craig Flowers and Justin Clevenger of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity of Marshall University for assisting the students with their enclosures on the last available build day before the big drop. Also, AJ Messinger from the MU chapter of the Society of Physics Students was present on several build days to work with the students leading up to the main event. This was a great event! Students learned some science as well as learned how to write about what they did in a more technical fashion. Thank you, Ms. Haines, for your hard work organizing and planning! Can’t wait to be part of it next year!

SPS Members Become Department of Physics Tutors!

Peter Burbery, then an Engineering major, and Eli Williamson, a Secondary Education Major with an Area of Emphasis in Physics, both were hired by the Department of Physics to be tutors for all 100-200 level Physics courses.

SPS at the 58th Annual International Festival!

SPS advisor Dr. Sean P. McBride helped with recruitment by attending the 58th Annual International Festival on behalf of the SPS student organization and Department of Physics to aid in recruitment of both members and physics majors. Parents and students of all ages had fun and were amazed and intrigued from demonstrations shown on optics, electricity and magnetism, fluids and mechanics. “West Virginia’s oldest and longest running international festival, the annual exposition features international foods, world music and dance and displays representing many different countries and cultures. The festival is open to the public and is free of charge to enter. Learn more at the Marshall University International Festival website.

The First Face-to-Face SPS Meeting of 2022!

Thank you to all the potential new members and current members that showed up to the first Society of Physics Students meeting of the 2022 academic semester (1-20-2022 from 1-2 pm in room 179 in the Science Building)! It was great to meet you and sit down and share some good food and good conversation. We hope to see you at meetings in the future, sharing your ideas for great outreach and cool projects, and participating in outreach events that we already have established. Participation in such outreach organizations looks fantastic on resumes. All the food was sponsored by the MU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students through the endowed Society of Physics Students Fund.

MU SPS Celebrates the 100th Birthday of Sigma Pi Sigma!

On 1-27-2022, the Marshall University Chapter of the Society of Physics Students were able to celebrate, face to face as a group, the 100th birthday of the Sigma Pi Sigma Physics and Astronomy Honor Society. Student officers, members, and guests enjoyed cake and ice cream. Faculty SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Advisor, Dr. Sean P. McBride, put together a presentation on the history of both Sigma Pi Sigma and the Society of Physics Students, along with the unique history of the MU SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma Chapters and who were the key players in their development. A link to the presentation can be found here. AJ Messinger, Vice President of SPS, then helped to lay out the plans for the actions of the SPS group over the next couple of weeks with outreach and community involvement opportunities. All the food was sponsored by the MU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students through the endowed Society of Physics Students Fund.

SPS Members Provide Feedback on the Gradschoolshopper Magazine!

On 2/3/2022, 10 of the 11 Marshall University students that are associated with Marshall University’s growing chapter of the Society of Physics Students participated in a business lunch with the National Director of Society of Physics Students & Sigma Pi Sigma (ΣΠΣ), Dr. Brad Conrad and the Director of Sales & Marketing for the American Institute of Physics, Christina Unger Ramos. The chapter thanked Dr. Brad Conrad and AIP for covering the lunch provided by Firehouse Subs. Over the course of the hour, many good discussions were had about the recent issue of gradschoolshopper ( This magazine is a fantastic resource for students curious about the process of selecting and applying to graduate school in many fields with particular emphasis on Physics and Astronomy and related Fields. The magazine is a printed companion resource to go with the website, which is an outstanding searchable database of schools that have graduate programs in Physics and Astronomy and related Fields. The discussions led by Dr. Conrad and Christina Unger Ramos promoted and prompted the transfer of knowledge about applying to graduate school programs between senior and younger members of the group, but also provided important feedback to AIP about changes that could be made to the upcoming issues that would help future students.

Marshall University’s College of Science hosted the 2022 West Virginia Science Olympiad with Support from the MU SPS Chapter

In March of 2022 about 70 high school students from around the state traveled to the Marshall University Huntington campus to test their scientific knowledge. The Marshall SPS Chapter had a role in assisting during the event itself through either running events as supervisors or helping event supervisors. Those from SPS who helped during the Science Olympiad event were Treasurer Victoria Maynor, Secretary Liv Stockwin, Social Media Officer Kolbey Walker, Vice President AJ Messinger, as well as member Aidan Payton. Also present at recruitment was Sigma Epsilon, another student organization that Dr. Sean P. McBride is currently the advisor of. “Science Olympiad is an American team competition in which students compete in 23 events pertaining to various fields of science, including earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and engineering. Over 7,800 middle school and high school teams from 50 U.S. states compete each year. U.S. territories do not compete; however, since 2012 high school teams from Japan have competed at the national tournament as unranked guests.” ~ Science Olympiad – Wikipedia

Marshall University Science Olympiad and SPS Student Organizations Work Together to Coach the 2022 WV State Championship Science Olympiad Team!

Our SPS chapter also earned a grant from the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for $2,360 to coach ~15 students on the West Virginia State Championship team for Science Olympiad who belonged to Cabell Midland high school. This was a joint effort with the Science Olympiad student organization here on campus who also helped with the coaching. Both student organizations helped prepare the high school team members for the 2022 National Science Olympiad Competition. This opportunity for Science Olympiad coaching was made possible by the NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium, Grant # 80NSSC20M0055. Vice President AJ Messinger and then President Peter Burbery (along with other students from the MU Science Olympiad student organization) were coaches for this project. Efforts were made to meet weekly with respective groups of students to practice for particular events in the national Science Olympiad competition.

Energy and Motion Workshop with Saint Joseph 9th Grade Students!

Students from the Marshall University Society of Physics Students and their advisor, Dr. Sean P. McBride from the Physics Department at Marshall University had fun working with the talented 9th grade students at Saint t Joseph Catholic High School during a two-day Energy and Motion Workshop on March 29th and March 31st. SPS members that participated were AJ Messinger, Eli Williamson, Kolbey Walker, Frances Harper, Aidan Payton, and Victoria Maynor. Students first learned about potential and kinetic energies and how they are incorporated into the principle of conservation of mechanical energy. They also learned about projectile motion. Each team was then given identical building kits with various building supplies and a variety of projectiles that could be assembled or altered in any way they wished. They then competed against each other in 2 person teams trying to build a ramp with the given materials that would launch their projectile as far as possible under the influence of gravity alone. Fun was had by all! The first and second place teams won Marshall Physics Department Sweatshirts and T-shirts, respectively. All the building supplies and materials were sponsored by the MU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students through the endowed Society of Physics Students Fund.

SPS Attends the 2022 Zone 7 SPS Kickoff Meeting!

On behalf of the SPS members at Marshall University, SPS Advisor Dr. Sean P. McBride attended the Zone 7 SPS Meeting and Zone 7 SPS Kickoff. Ideas for outreach, recruitment, and activities were discussed at the Zone 7 SPS Kickoff. This was a virtual meeting, 4 – 5 pm, April 1st. Hosted by Youngstown State University in Youngstown, Ohio.

SPS Member Alec O’Dell Presents Project at Physics Department Spring 2022 Convocation Day!

Physics faculty and SPS members  showed up April 8th, 2022 to support their fellow SPS member Alec O’Dell when he gave a Physics Department Convocation Day talk on “Multi-messenger Signals in Python: Modelling Magnetized Mergers of Binary Neutron Stars”. The presentation was on part of  his capstone project as part of his graduation requirements. Dr. Maria Hamilton in the Department of Physics was his capstone advisor.




SPS Member Alec O’Dell and SPS Alumni Andy Prostor Present their Physics Capstone Projects!

Congratulations Andy Prostor, education major with minors in math and physics, and Physics Major Alec O’Dell on presenting your capstone research projects Thursday, April 28th, 2022! Andy’s Faculty Mentor was Dr. Sachiko McBride and he presented on “Herd Hours: What makes it successful and how it was affected by covid”. Alec’s Faculty Mentor was Dr. Maria Hamilton and he presented on “Multi-messenger Signals in Python: Modeling Magnetized Neutron Star Binary Mergers”. Great job!




Sigma Pi Sigma Inductions – Spring 2022!

SPS member Aiden Payton was inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma during the spring 2022 Convocation Day on April 8th, 2022. The physics department was on a path of setting a new tradition, doing annual Sigma Pi Sigma inductions for junior/senior physics majors with impressive GPAs every fall during their newly established Physics Week (click here and here for 2018 and 2019 events). During their traditional physics week, the physics department invites all alumni that they have contact info for to these events. In recent years, illustrious alumni have been invited to speak at these annual events accompanied with a welcoming dinner with all department faculty, alumni, and family and friends of inductees and speakers. However, COVID-19 and unusual graduation dates have disrupted this new tradition and this event was simplified in the 2021 year into a virtual format combined with convocation day, which was allowed to proceed face to face for spring 2022. Everyone looks forward to the traditional fall face-to face events.

SPS Member & Alumni Present at the MU College of Science Research Expo & MU Research and Creativity Symposium!

Andy Prostor, education major with minors in math and physics gave a successful presentation of his postor titled “Herd Hours: What makes it successful and how it was affected by covid.” This poster was presented at both the College of Science Research Expo and Marshall University Creativity Symposium. SPS advisor Dr. Sean P. McBride is a coauthor on this poster asHerd Hours is an active area of research for him dating back to spring 2017. Alec O’Dell also presented his work on “Multi-messenger Signals in Python: Modelling Magnetized Mergers of Binary Neutron Stars” in poster form for the College of Science Research Expo and also gave an oral presentation at the Marshall University Research and Creativity Symposium on the same topic. Marshall University Research and Creativity Symposium was held on the Marshall University Huntington campus for undergraduates on April 19th. The college of Science Research Expo was on the Marshall University Huntington campus for undergraduates on April 8th, 9 – 11 am.  Congratulations to both on successful presentations of their work!

SPS Member Peter Burbery Provides Talk on the International System of Units

Peter Burbery, SPS president for the Spring 2022 semester and elected Recruitment Officer for the 2022-2023 academic year gave a talk on the International System of Units on 4-21-2022. The purpose of this talk was to support the use of SI system and educate those not familiar with the unit system. This talk was delivered to the SPS group and Peter’s parents face-to-face though Peter eventually wants to deliver the talk to a group of youngers students to get them more involved with and educated about International System of Units. Through this talk, Peter gained some positive feedback, enhanced his public speaking skills, and improved his presentation skills and ability.

Motor Madness with Chapmanville High School!

On 4-26-2022, students from Chapmanville HS had the opportunity to build DC motors in a workshop hosted by the Department of Physics, which was run with the help of those in the Society of Physics Students! HS students got to learn how magnetic fields and currents interact to produce magnetic forces on current loops. Students got to take their motors home with them and the winners with the fastest motor received official Marshall University Physics Department T-shirts or Sweatshirts. Society of Physics Students President Eli Williamson was able to assist in running the workshop with SPS Advisor Dr. Sean P. McBride. Thanks to Deborah Curry, Director of Rural Outreach and Development for the Center for Rural Health, for bringing students onto campus and including the Physics Department. This workshop was sponsored by the Department of Physics in conjunction with the endowed Society of Physics Students Fund.

Sky Fest Spring 2022!

The 2022 Sky Festival was a face-to-face campus event where elementary students in grades 3-5 had the opportunity to learn about all things astronomy and meteorology. It took place 9 am-1 pm on Tuesday May 17, 2022. Events where held inside and outside various buildings across the Marshall University Huntington Campus. SPS members Eli Williamson and AJ Messinger (right), along with SPS Advisor Dr. Sean P. McBride, were able to participate helping out in 2 stations. Groups rotated every 30 minutes to see multiple stations throughout the day. This was a great event with dozens upon dozens of students present (~200 students).  Eli taught about the craters on the moon and how the Earth can shield the moon from a lot of the smaller objects on the tidally locked face that we see from Earth. Students were then given a setup of a cake pan filled with flour and dusted with cocoa powder to drop projectiles to simulate objects such as asteroids and meteorites hitting their simulated moon surface. This was all modelled after the JPL’s Educator Guide “Whip up a Moon-Like Crater.”

AJ and Dr. McBride helped all the students at their station make pinhole cameras that they could take home with them. The best images observed with their cameras received a prize, a marshall physics bag. At their station, the students also got to observe sunspots using a sun tracking telescope with a sunshade. All supplies for the pinhole cameras were sponsored by the MU Chapter of the Society of Physics Students through the endowed Society of Physics Students Fund. Dr. Maria Hamilton from the Department of Physics also participated with her efforts focusing on demonstrating Einstein’s Gravity, Orbits, Black Holes Collisions, and Gravitational Waves.

SPS Members Participate in New Student Orientation and Recruiting

The society of Physics students and their advisor participated in New Student Orientation on June 7th, 2022 from 11:30 -1:00 pm! This portion of the New Student Orientation event packed the lobby of the Memorial Student Center with active student groups and these groups also sprawled out on to the Plaza. All student organizations provided possible opportunities for new students giving them a peek into student life on campus. Nearly a dozen students showed an interest in either the Society of Physics Students organization or the physics major or minor. Information about the SPS group and the physics major and minor were provided. Thanks SPS members AJ Messinger (Vice president), Aiden Payton, Kolbey Walker (Social Media), and Victoria Maynor (Treasurer) for assisting today!

Fall 2021 to Spring 2022 Recognitions, Awards, Scholarships, Fellowships Granted to SPS Members!

Ellie White (former SPS President Fall 2021)

  • First author paper, “Green Bank Telescope: Overview and analysis of metrology systems and pointing performance”, Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 659, A113, March 2022, Received: 2 August 2021 Accepted: 25 October 2021,
  • Graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Physics and minor in Math in December ’21.
  • Secured a job as a Scientific Data Analyst with the Green Bank Observatory starting spring 2022.
  • Marshall University President’s List, Fall 2021 semester.*

AJ Messinger (SPS Vice President):

  • Presented an Award for Outstanding Undergraduate award from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Presented with the Alva and Dixon Callihan Scholarship/John Marshall Scholarship from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Presented with the A. Dixon Callihan, Donald C. Martin, and Ralph P. Hron Memorial Physics Scholarship from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Presented with the Outstanding Undergraduate in Mathematics and Statistics award from the Mathematics department, spring 2022.
  • Marshall University President’s List, Fall 2021 semester.*
  • Marshall University Dean’s List, Spring 2022 semester.**

Jacob Lee (SPS member, shown to the right):

  • Presented with the Alva and Dixon Callihan Scholarship/John Marshall Scholarship from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Presented an Academic Achievement award from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Marshall University Dean’s List, Spring 2022 semester.**

Alec O’Dell (SPS member):

  • Presented the Outstanding Undergraduate award from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Marshall University President’s List, Spring 2022 semester.*

Joseph Powell (SPS member):

  • Presented with the Dr. Thomas J. and Mary Manakkil Memorial Scholarship from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.
  • Presented an Academic Achievement award from the MU Physics Department, spring 2022.

Eli Williamson (SPS President):

  • Marshall University Dean’s List, Spring 2022 semester.**
  • Preservice and Early Career Research for Teachers (PERT) researcher summer 2021

Victoria Maynor (SPS Treasurer):

  • Marshall University President’s List, Spring 2022 semester.*

Kolbey Walker (SPS Social Media Officer):

  • Marshall University President’s List, Spring 2022 semester.*

Liv Stockwin (SPS Secretary):

  • Marshall University President’s List, Spring 2022 semester.*
  • Marshall University President’s List, Fall 2021 semester.*

Peter Burbery (SPS member):

  • Marshall University Dean’s List, Spring 2022 semester.**

* The President’s List – for undergraduate students who have a 4.0 Grade Point Average for at least 12 graded hours.

** The Dean’s List – for  undergraduate students who have a 3.3 Grade Point Average for a minimum of 12 graded hours.

SPS Activities by Academic Year

Fall 2020 – Spring 2021
Fall 2019 – Spring 2020
Fall 2018 – Spring 2019
Fall 2017-  Spring 2018


Fundraising is also an 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 if the desire arises.

Current Fundraising 2022-2023: Help support your local Society of Physics Students chapter at Marshall University by purchasing a SPS club T-shirt! T-Shirts are going for $25 a piece. We have sizes from Small to XXL. Sizes on hand are on a first come first serve basis. If we run out of a particular size, we will look into ordering more if there is enough interest. Getting a size larger is recommended to compensate for shrinkage. The shirts are very soft. The shirts have the MU Physics logo on the front right chest area, a Student Government Association logo on the left sleeve, the SPS logo combination on the back and some fun with Maxwell’s equations. We now have an account set-up with PayPal. Anyone who sends money should include the following memo: “(first and last name), ‘T-Shirts,’ (size)”. An example of this would be as follows: Eli Williamson, T-Shirts, Large. Make sure to bring some sort of ID so that we can identify the buyer and give them the proper shirt. For fall 20022, shirts can be picked up in Science Building Room 179 and/or 152 on Fridays from 10 am-12 pm and 1 pm-4 pm when the university is open (email or stop by Dr. McBride’s office for alternate times if those don’t work). If you are an Alumni or would like a shirt mailed to you, please email Dr. McBride ( to work out details on postage costs etc. Here is a direct link to PayPal: . Money can be sent to @MUSPS on PayPal.



National Constitution of the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma

The Marshall University Chapter of The Society of Physics Students Bylaws

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

SPS Webpage maintained by Dr. Sean P. McBride, Faculty Advisor of the Marshall University SPS Chapter.