Sigma Pi Sigma: Honoring Colgate’s Budding Physicists

Sarah Fitzgerald

By Sarah FitzgeraldMaroon-News Staff

The Physics and Astronomy Department welcomed the induction of a new chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society, to campus, following a dinner and reception at the Colgate Inn on Tuesday.This society, founded in 1921 by dedicated students of physics, is the official honor society of the physics profession and is listed under the Society of Physics Students (SPS). Sigma Pi Sigma has grown in size and contribution for the past 83 years. Due to junior Krystle Williams’ efforts, this new chapter at Colgate can now be a part of the society’s development. Students and professors attended the celebration, where a presentation was made outlining the history and hopes of Sigma Pi Sigma.New members described the mission of the society”to honor outstanding scholarship in physics, to encourage interest in physics among students at all levels, to promote an attitude of service of its members towards their fellow students, colleagues and the public and to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics.” Students inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma have excelled in the field and shown exceptional talents in physics.Under Sigma Pi Sigma membership, students have a responsibility to bring knowledge of physics to their communities. “[We will] assist in creating sound national science policies,” junior Jarrett Moyer said. “As alumni, we will support generations of students that will follow.” Ten students were inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma. They were presented with the official society key, a certificate and signed their names into the Sigma Pi Sigma book. Professor of Physics and Astronomy Victor Mansfield spokeabouthis excitement for Colgate’s new chapter of Sigma Pi Sigma and the student activity that it promotes.He also praised the society’s new members for their hard-earned honor. “Physics is always just a little harder than you are smart,” Mansfield said. Mansfield also introduced the night’s guest speaker, Charles A. Dana Professor of Physics, Emeritus Dr. Charles Holbrow.Holbrow was a Professor of Physics at Colgate for 36 years untilhe retiredfrom active teaching in 2003.Now, he is the President of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). Holbrow praised the new members of Sigma Pi Sigma. “Often, this kind of self-congratulation breeds arrogance and self-pride,” he said, “but with the new chapter at Colgate, they will just have to take the risk.” Holbrow emphasized the roles imagination and curiosity play in the minds and successes of physicists. “Physics and science in general cannot exist without deep imagination,” he said. “Physicists envision theories, machines and solutions to world problems that had previously not existed. Creativity is absolutely essential to the profession and to the study of physics.” Holbrow said that physicists must be willing to create almost fiction in order to bring their ideas to fruition. “Physicists are in high demand for various positions, ranging from government work to teaching in a school or university,” he said. “Imagination works everywhere – from mega-physics to humdrum problems.” Holbrow urged students to conduct their scientific lives creatively. New Sigma Pi Sigma honorees are seniors Anthony Annunziata, Nicole Cassano, Cynthia Castellon and Justin Spencer and juniors Michelle Cooper, Jarrett Moyer, Everett Riley, Christina Viviano, Krystle Williams and Stephanie Wortel.