Blake Lilly Prize

Share This:

Established by the parents of the late Blake Lilly and given in his memory

Recipients: 2015-16 | 2014-15 | 2013-14 | 2012-13

Proposals due June 15

Program Overview

Blake Lilly (center) with lab team at Georgia Tech, 1989.The Blake Lilly Prize, named after the late Blake Lilly and given in his honor, recognizes SPS chapters and individuals who make a genuine effort to positively influence the attitudes of school children and the general public about physics. For example, many chapters perform something like a "Physics Circus," conduct classroom demonstrations, offer tutoring services for grades K-12, or assist with school science fairs. The Blake Lilly Prize is an opportunity to be publicly recognized for these types of physics outreach efforts.

Award at a Glance

  • Several awards may be made each year
  • Winners receive the three-volume set of The Feynman Lectures on Physics or similar prize
  • Awarded to chapters or individuals that engage in physics outreach activities and submit a report about the activity


  • Applicants must be SPS chapters in good standing with the SPS national organization or individual members of the SPS national organization
  • Chapter applicants must have a student project leader that is a member of the SPS national organization

Application Procedure

  • The individual applicant or project leader must complete an online application form located at no later than June15 (if this date falls on a weekend, the application is due the following Monday)
  • The application consists of three parts including:
    • General information about the applicant or project leader
    • A brief report of not more than two pages describing your outreach efforts, audience, and interaction with the audience
    • A recommendation from the chapter advisor (the applicant must enter the advisor's name and email address in an online form, after which the advisor will receive an email with a link to a brief form)
    • Optional: You may attach supporting material, such as photographs, programs, or newspaper articles, but they must be compiled into one document for uploading

What to Include in the Report?

Sometimes those who participate in your outreach event write thank you notes that are amusing and thought-provoking. Sometimes they will ask you profound questions—the very questions that drive science. Sometimes they will show their curiosity about the natural world in amazing and beautiful ways. Consider the feedback you received from your outreach efforts. What questions did they ask you? What anecdotal evidence exists that their interest in science was improved by your visit? What positive synergies developed between your physics department and the participants that may lead to fruitful collaborative efforts in the future? Please provide us with this kind of information, in addition to general information about who you interacted with, when, and how.

Award Selection

From among the submissions, a panel of reviewers selects several of the most meritorious to receive a Blake Lilly Prize.

Details for Awardees

  • Awardees are required to log back into the FluidReview system to upload a picture and input the press contacts at their institution in order to accept the award
  • Upon acceptance of the award, The Feynman Lecture on Physics is sent to the SPS chapter or individual
  • Because SPS may wish to use all or portions of entries in SPS publications, all entries become the property of the Society of Physics Students. When used in SPS publications, authorship of the entries will be cited

Why the Feynman Lectures?

Blake Lilly was a graduate student in atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona when he died tragically from injuries sustained in an airplane crash. Among Blake's possessions were the three-volume set of The Feynman Lectures on Physics. Blake's family said the following:

"Feynman's real gift may have been that he made physics accessible to students like Blake, who have a compelling interest and commitment, but whose talent lay in diligence and hard, consistent study rather than in super intelligence. Feynman spoke to the ordinary student in Blake about the extraordinary beauty of physics."

Richard Feynman's celebrated Lectures were a source of great inspiration to Blake. Feynman enjoyed talking about physics with students. We have heard of SPS chapters inviting him to speak to students, and he would arrive under a pseudonym to keep faculty away. The last project on which he worked was a high school physics project in California.

Feynman also enjoyed talking about physics with the general public, and some of his published public lectures (such as QED) are classics for cutting through pomp and making matters simple and interesting. Thus it is fitting that The Feynman Lectures be given to chapters that are outstanding in physics outreach, as a symbol of effective physics communication. It is also fitting that the award be given in the name of Blake Lilly, who loved this kind of work. Although Blake passed from this life at the age of 25, it remains for us to finish the work he wanted to accomplish.


Please address questions related to this award to SPS-Programs [at]