Sigma Pi Sigma

Sigma Pi Sigma exists 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; to provide a fellowship of persons who have excelled in physics. Sigma Pi Sigma's mission is not completed in the induction ceremony with the recognition of academic accomplishment. In the four dimensions of Honor, Encouragement, Service, and Fellowship, the mission of Sigma Pi Sigma takes a longer view.

Founded in 1921, Sigma Pi Sigma is a member honor society of the Association of College Honor Societies. Our society has some 75,000 historical members. Election to Sigma Pi Sigma is a lifetime membership. The Society of Physics Students (SPS) was formed in 1968 with the union of Sigma Pi Sigma and the AIP Student Sections. Honor, encouragement, service, and fellowship are the four main principles of SPS.


Sigma Pi Sigma is the official honor society of the physics profession. Through election to Sigma Pi Sigma, distinctive achievement and high scholarship in physics is recognized and celebrated. Millikin University already has a well established honors program for its general student body but Sigma Pi Sigma bestows a different kind of honor on it's members. If a student qualifies and is nominated by their peers then trust is instilled in that nominee to uphold our four core values.


By honoring high achievement in physics and upholding high standards for election into Sigma Pi Sigma, the Society provides an incentive for all physics students to rise to excellence. The Society also encourages physics interest and science literacy in the general public. At Millikin University, members are expected to encourage all the physics majors to excel in their studies. This encouragement reaches farther than the University campus however when members connect to students of all grade levels since physics is everywhere.


With the recognition of accomplishment comes a responsibility to service. As persons who earned our Sigma Pi Sigma insignia pins by midnight oil, we appreciate the struggles of fellow students and colleagues who are facing similar challenges. When our experience and resources are placed at their service, then Sigma Pi Sigma touches more lives than may be counted by the number of its members. Because we respect the struggle for excellence, we support the generations of students that follow us. At Millikin University service means using your resources and talents to help those that need it. Our members are known for their tenacity and dedication in great part to their commitment to service.


Sigma Pi Sigma members cut across generational lines. The first members were inducted in 1921. New members are added every year. This represents many generations of experience and wisdom that can be brought to bear on matters of common interest to all members. Sigma Pi Sigma members cut across professional lines. Besides physicists, many members of other professions also enrich our ranks, uniting a diverse group of people who have shared in the culture and traditions of physics, and have demonstrated that they could excel in it. With this common thread of a shared background in physics running through so rich a diversity of generations and professions, and with the publications and meetings of the Society available for communication instruments, Sigma Pi Sigma nurtures a spirit of professional community among its members, and encourages them to offer their collective wisdom and perspectives in the service of society.

Society of Physics Students

Millikin’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students hosts free Public Observation Nights every Wednesday when school is in session, weather permitting, at the Requarth Observatory on the 5th floor Penthouse of the Leighty-Tabor Science Center. These events give Physics and Astronomy students an opportunity to showcase some of their work and the facilities that they use and maintain for their research.

Officers for 2016/2017

Public Observation Night

Come view the heavens through the largest telescope in the state! The Public Observation Nights (PONs) hosted in the Requarth Observatory have been one of Millikin's most popular and enduring outreach activities. Requarth Observatory Public Observation Night is held every Wednesday, 8-10 p.m.; when skies are clear until weather gets too cold. The Observatory is housed on the fifth floor (Penthouse) of Leighty-Tabor Science Center just off Fairview Avenue in Decatur.

After significant work on revamping the telescopes in the summer of 2007, Professors Watson, Miller, and Werner along with students Bobby Arn, Andrew Schenk, and Shae Trumpy, began to host PONs in September, 2007. This group held PONs through 2008, and since then Dr. Watson has continued the tradition with the help of many other SPS students. Thanks to all of their efforts, PONs have now provided thousands of people on Millikin's campus and in the surrounding Decatur community with access to some of the best astronomical equipment in the state, including the largest publicly available telescope in Illinois. PONs have provided guests with views of distant galaxies, giant star clusters within the Milky Way, binary stars like Albireo, red super giants like Antares and Betelgeuse, blue super giants like Vega, not to mention outstanding close-ups of the solar system, including our Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and its four largest (Galilean) moons, Saturn's rings and two of its largest moons,Uranus, Neptune, and even the dwarf planet, Pluto.

For more information, contact Dr. Casey R. Watson at 217.424.6271. 


Growing Your Network

We encourage our students to get involved in activities that help them to understand more deeply their chosen profession and that allows for professional networking. There are many professional organizations and associations that offer student members. While not an exhaustive list, we do offer the following suggestions for our students to consider:

American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT)

The American Association of Physics Teachers's mission is to enhance the understanding and appreciation of physics through teaching. With more than 10,000 members worldwide, AAPT provides teachers with many opportunities for professional development, networking, and student enrichment.

American Astronomical Society (AAS)

The American Astronomical Society is the principal organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership consists of over 6500 astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, engineers, geologists, and others.

American Institute of Physics (AIP)

The American Institute of Physics is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership corporation created for the purpose of promoting the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics and its application to human welfare. It is the mission of the Institute to serve the sciences of physics and astronomy by serving its member societies, by serving individual scientists, and by serving students and the general public.

American Physical Society (APS)

The American Physical Society has fourteen divisions and nine topical groups covering all areas of physics research. There are six forums that reflect the interest of its 46,000 members in broader issues, and eight sections organized by geographical region. Mission: "In the firm belief that an understanding of the nature of the physical universe will be of benefit to all humanity, the Society shall have as its objective the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics."