Director of the Society of Physics Students

Job Summary

Science Management
American Institute of Physics
Number of Positions Available
Work Arrangement

Job Description


AIP is a non-profit federation of 10 member societies and 18 affiliates, with the mission to advance, promote and serve the physical sciences for the benefit of humanity. The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a membership organization within the American Institute of Physics (AIP) which serves as a professional association explicitly designed for undergraduate students and their advisors. The purpose of SPS is help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community. Traditional coursework develops one range of skills. Other professional skills students need include: effective communication and interpersonal skills, leadership, professional networking, effective presentation of scholarly work at professional meetings and in journals, research, and engagement with local communities through science outreach. Through its members, advisors, chapters, and leadership, SPS fosters national initiatives and local impacts within the community.

Membership in SPS is through collegiate chapters and is open to anyone interested in physics and astronomy. Besides physics and astronomy majors, SPS members include majors in chemistry, computer science, engineering, geology, mathematics, medicine, and many other fields. With over 860 chapters and more than 6400 student members located at colleges and universities across the United States and the world, SPS strives to be inclusive and supportive of the entire community. Everyone has a home within SPS.

Within SPS is housed Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics and astronomy honor society, which elects members on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and community service. Members of Sigma Pi Sigma encourage interest in and provide support for programs that advance the fields of physics and astronomy. They also provide mentoring and fellowship to physical scientists at all stages of their careers. Sigma Pi Sigma has over 90,000 lifelong members.

SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma are linked, but distinct societies that operate within and are underwritten by AIP, a federation of professional science societies.

AIP is hiring a Director of the Society of Physics Students—responsible for overall direction and oversight of AIP’s student programs focused on the undergraduate level through the Society of Physics Students, and the physics and astronomy honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. The Director must be a dynamic, purpose-driven leader with a growth mindset and a passion for helping students prepare for and transition into their careers in the physical sciences. The SPS team sits within the AIP Executive Office, led by AIP’s Chief Executive Officer. The Director will report to AIP’s Chief Federation Officer


Responsibilities of the Director include leading staff, directing the daily operations, overseeing the financial management of both societies, and supporting service and outreach activities for Chapters, Physics Departments, and AIP’s Member Societies and Affiliates. Working in partnership with the Chief Federation Officer, AIP’s Executive Management Team, and the SPS Council and its Executive Committee, the Director facilitates visioning and planning of AIP’s student programs within the context of the strategic direction and resources/capabilities of AIP. The Director collaborates with AIP Foundation to develop and support fundraising strategies through sponsorship, donor and corporate gifts, and grants from private foundations and government sponsors. The Director enables and supports staff and volunteer efforts to deliver on programmatic initiatives, including the program development and the planning of operational logistics for the Physics Congress (PhysCon) which brings together physics and astronomy students, SPS alumni, and faculty members to engage in interactive professional development and networking. The outcome of the Director’s leadership and work results in enhanced value of SPS membership, increased support from Sigma Pi Sigma members, and an expanded SPS membership base.


  • Lead, manage, and guide the organization to attain continued growth, success, and optimal mission impact for SPS.
  • Manage the SPS Council and Executive Committee productively and collaboratively creating efficient practices and proactive communication.
  • Collaborate with AIP management and colleagues from across the Institute to align student programs with AIP priorities and strategic direction, including the goal of “advancing the success of AIP Member Societies”.
  • Expand SPS’s position as a frontrunner in supporting undergraduate students with an interest in physics and astronomy.
  • Foster efforts to improve diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility (DEIBA) in all aspects of our mission.
  • In collaboration with AIP’s Diversity, Equity and Belonging Officer and the statistics team within AIP Research, define measurable goals and regularly compile data to track where the organization can improve support of its membership and track DEIBA efforts.
  • Effectively communicate the organization’s long-term goals to all relevant stakeholders and collaborate with the colleagues across AIP and with the SPS Council and Executive Committee on how to reach them.
  • In collaboration with AIP’s Chief Content Officer and the AIP Content & Engagement team, strategically communicate to and engage with the SPS/Sigma Pi Sigma membership community through AIP’s digital platforms to promote available resources, services and events.
  • Provide visionary leadership by way of prospecting and developing new programs, strengthening the organizational brand for SPS/Sigma Pi Sigma members and faculty.
  • Identify opportunities for increased partnership and collaboration with stakeholders including AIP Member Societies, AIP Affiliates, and other private and government organizations serving undergraduate students.
  • Manage working relationships between staff and volunteer committees.
  • Develop with the Executive Director of AIP Foundation a donor-centric strategy to underwrite SPS programs and activities.
  • Develop and implement with the Executive Director of AIP Foundation a strategy for delivering grant support of SPS programs and activities from government and private foundation partners with an interest in undergraduate education and the physical sciences.
  • Create and maintain effective working relationships with the members of the SPS Council, Chapter and Zone leadership, and relevant lead staff or volunteers at AIP Member Societies.
  • Actively engage in complex fiscal management through hands-on budgetary development and oversight; routinely report performance and financial activities to the AIP Chief Financial and Administrative Officer.
  • Actively recruit, manage, and retain a team of staff members committed to SPS’s mission and advancing its objectives and programs.
  • Foster a collaborative working environment, provide professional development, and champion respect, accountability, and inclusivity among staff.
  • Consistently anticipate the needs of many while advocating for the productivity and efficiency of the organization.
  • Implement, maintain, and/or develop strategic plans for the organization to exceed expectations of organizational work and impact.


  • An advanced degree in strongly preferred, preferably in physics, astronomy or related field of the physical sciences. A terminal degree would be a plus. Candidates with degrees in nonprofit management will also be considered.
  • Professional experience in undergraduate education including a focus on professional development of students.
  • Personal experience and/or a connection to nonprofits, education, or membership organizations—including, membership governance structures and processes; awards and recognition; compliance; and volunteer and volunteer-committee management.
  • Proven track record of producing strategic, operational, and fiscal results in a similar complex membership-driven organization.
  • History with successful management of a dynamic, multi-program organization; a strong understanding of what it takes to maximize program effectiveness, maintain deliverable quality, and optimize resources.
  • Experience working with a Board of Directors or equivalent, including collaboration and consensus with the Chair/President.
  • Strong fiscal management abilities; experience preparing and securing approval for a complex budget, and vendor procurement and management.
  • Proven success in delivering donor and grant support of programmatic goals.
  • Demonstrated abilities in membership communication and engagement, including developing content for digital platforms, magazine production, and coordinating the organization of professional society meetings.
  • Experience and demonstrated competence in building and developing a team of staff. Additional experience in managing remote or hybrid staff is especially welcome.
  • Charismatic leadership with credibility for effective representation to relevant policymakers, the boards of AIP and AIP Foundation, SPS Council and Executive Committee, SPS members, AIP Member Societies and AIP affiliates, other allied organizations, and the media.
  • Knowledge of how to foster an environment of accountability, ambitious goals, healthy work relationships and partnerships, and inclusivity among organizational staff in order to maintain a positive and collaborative work environment.
  • Demonstrates outstanding listening skills and active engagement to solicit input from a range of viewpoints.
  • A passion for undergraduate STEM education and an understanding of the challenges facing students, faculty, colleges and universities.
  • Ability to manage and prioritize multiple projects with competing priorities and exercise sound judgment in evaluating and prioritizing.


The American Institute of Physics is a dynamic, forward-thinking 501(c)(3) membership corporation of scientific societies. Our mission is to advance, promote, and serve the physical sciences for the benefit of humanity. AIP is a trusted and reliable source of information and analysis and is a center of excellence that advances the physical sciences enterprise through research and analysis aimed at improving the understanding of our heritage and promoting future progress.

Diversity welcome! Diversity is integral to our mission and is engrained in everything that we do at AIP. We encourage and invite people of all backgrounds to apply and join our team. All applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, creed, marital status, gender identity or expression, political affiliation, personal appearance, national origin, ancestry, protected veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

Application Details

Publication Start Date
2023 Sep 20
Application Deadline
2023 Nov 10