An Emphasis on Physicists—Past, Present, and Future

SPS Chapter Awards

An Emphasis on Physicists—Past, Present, and Future

2019 Chapter Project Award

Missouri Southern State University

Project Lead: Toby Pederson
Chapter Advisor: Jency Sundararajan
Project Summary: The Missouri Southern State University physics community came together to share in Sigma Pi Sigma induction traditions and build community across generations.

The extended Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) physics community reunited in April of 2019 to welcome the next generation of members into Sigma Pi Sigma. Our day of celebration began with the induction of six physicists. This particular ceremony was special in that five members joined Sigma Pi Sigma in the same induction class as our SPS advisor, Dr. Jency Sundararajan.

Our induction began with a welcome from Toby Pederson, MSSU SPS president and Sigma Pi Sigma member, who reflected on the goals of the Society of Physics Students and the history of Sigma Pi Sigma. Dr. Sundararajan discussed the importance of Physics Congresses and encouraged everyone to attend the 2019 Congress in Providence. Then we heard from several faculty who are members of Sigma Pi Sigma.

Dr. Rabindra Bajracharya reminded us of the Sigma Pi Sigma mission to serve and support the physics community, which is achieved by our chapter via outreach, collaboration, and the development and maintenance of alumni networks. Dr. Shayna Burchett described the significance of the Sigma Pi Sigma key, insignia, seal, and motto. The presiding officer of the event, Dr. Daniel Marsh, then shared his experience as a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, highlighted the responsibilities of joining this distinguished group, and invited the incoming class to be inducted into the Physics Honor Society.

Our new inductees joined Sigma Pi Sigma, following the three-step tradition used in each MSSU ceremony: each member ignited a candle displaying a picture of a favorite physicist, signed our chapter’s Red Book, and demonstrated electromagnetic induction to symbolize the Sigma Pi Sigma induction. Pederson then led the charge to the incoming class of Sigma Pi Sigma members and congratulated our new inductees.

After the induction ceremony, our extended physics community gathered for an informal alumni picnic. We were joined by the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as MSSU faculty, students, alumni, local professionals, and Sigma Pi Sigma members and their families.

This Sigma Pi Sigma induction ceremony and alumni gathering was an informative and motivational experience for current students. The ceremony and picnic provided an excellent venue for students to meet recent graduates and learn about their experiences as graduate students, in the workplace and in conducting research. Students and alumni bonded as they shared their personal experiences as physics students, and our event helped those in attendance make professional contacts and network with local industry personnel.

With this Sigma Pi Sigma Chapter Project award, we were able to engage alumni by bringing together the local physics community and expand recognition of Sigma Pi Sigma on campus and in the surrounding community. It was a proud occasion for new inductees and inspired the next generation of physics students to work toward an invitation to Sigma Pi Sigma.

 The table setup for the induction ceremony.

Cori Smith, MSSU alumnus, is inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma.

Current students, alumni, and SPS members share a picnic lunch. Photos courtesy of the MSSU Sigma Pi Sigma chapter.

To learn more about this project, visit