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UTA chapter of physics honors society inducts new members

The newest inductees into UT Arlington's Sigma Pi Sigma chapter are, from left, Dustin Brewer, Ryan Hall, Crystal Red Eagle and Micah Weberg.

The UT Arlington Department of Physics has revived its chapter of the Sigma Pi Sigma honor society and inducted four new members Wednesday, June 30 in a ceremony at the Chemistry and Physics Building.

The new inductees are: Dustin Wylie Brewer (summa cum laude); Ryan Hall (cum laude, Honors College); Crystal Nicole Chumani Red Eagle (cum laude, McNair Scholar); and Micah Weberg (summa cum laude).

Sigma Pi Sigma is a national physics honor society open to students and faculty, or to anyone who makes a significant contribution to the field of physics. UT Arlington's chapter was created in 1966 and was active through 1987. Since then, the only inductions were made in 1997 and 2007. The goal is to establish a regular annual induction ceremony every fall, but the decision was made to hold a special ceremony this summer to induct four members who graduated in May or will graduate in the fall with bachelor's degrees in physics.

"I think the gaps with no member inductions were largely because there was no one in a leadership position to get it done," said Robert Bruntz, a Sigma Pi Sigma member and manager for physics professor Ramon Lopez's space physics lab. Lopez is the UT Arlington chapter's advisor. "One of the faculty members mentioned that there used to be a professor in charge of the chapter, but that he retired 'a long time ago'. It was Jim Horwitz who sparked the revival of the chapter, in 2007, and we just weren't able to get another induction organized since then."

Horwitz, a physics professor and former chair of the department, died in January 2009.

Each chapter determines the criteria for inducting new members. Membership is open to students, faculty and even members of the community who have made a significant contribution to the physics field. Students do not have to be physics majors to be inducted, but should be active in physics.

The UT Arlington chapter will select new members based on a vote by active members from the eligible pool of candidates, including undergraduate students who are in the top third of their class, Bruntz said. The UT Arlington chapter has inducted 221 members since its creation in 1966. Nationwide, over 75,000 have been inducted since the society was founded at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., in 1921. The society merged with the American Institute of Physics Student Sections to form the Society of Physics Students (SPS) in 1968, and Sigma Pi Sigma operates as a fully recognized honor society within the SPS.