A Letter from the ΣΠΣ President

Letter from the Director

A Letter from the ΣΠΣ President

by Jim Borgardt, PhD, Woolford Professor of Physics, Juniata College

Jim Borgardt. Photo courtesy of SPS National OfficeAlbert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Richard Feynman, Marie Curie, Galileo Galilei—what trait do these icons of physics, those we as a community hold to be the best of the best in our tradecraft, share?

The eminently quotable Feynman, speaking of his passion for knowledge, said “It has to do with curiosity. It has to do with people wondering what makes something do something.” Renaissance giant Leonardo da Vinci lived by a motto, “Ostinato Rigore,” conveying a philosophy of “stubborn rigor” or “tenacious application.” Certainly, the most esteemed physicists all possessed an obstinate inquisitiveness.

But while essential to their success as physicists, we would never have heard of any of them if they did not disseminate their ideas and communicate the results of their work for peers to review. This practice of putting ideas out for assessment and critique is a hallmark of physics and fosters a sense of community around our common enterprise.

An essential element of professional life is communicating the results of your work with the broader community. For undergraduate researchers, publishing in a professional journal can be a challenging and daunting endeavor. Fortunately, the Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics (JURP), a peer-reviewed SPS publication, provides undergraduates with a dedicated place to publish their research findings. A primary goal of the journal is to educate and train students while also providing a means of public dissemination of research and programmatic activities.

One of my great pleasures as an academic, research mentor, ΣΠΣ/SPS advisor, and in my service as ΣΠΣ president is to engage with students as they develop their research skills and to hear students present their research. The excitement and sense of ownership students convey as they share their work at departmental presentations and at professional conferences is amazing to observe and provides assurance that the future of our discipline is in talented and capable hands. These venues offer critical avenues for students to hone their oral and written communication skills. JURP affords an additional mechanism by which undergraduate physics students can impart their research findings and become contributing members of a scholarly community.

In addition to serving as a place to present your research, JURP features student articles on recent professional conferences. Through the articles, JURP aims to introduce readers to these important gatherings and to highlight some of the cutting-edge research topics and opportunities they feature. You’ll also find several inspiring reports by SPS chapters, featuring the amazing work they’ve done in outreach, community building, and research during the last year. These are just a small sample of the many projects that are financially supported by SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma donors each year.

I encourage you to make it a practice to read the Journal of Undergraduate Reports in Physics each summer, to be inspired by what you find in its pages, and to consider sharing your experiences and research findings with the physics community in response. In doing so, you’ll be contributing to your professional community and following in the footsteps of Einstein, Curie, and others!