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Dr. Toni Sauncy Receives Worth Seagondollar Service Award

Physics Department Chair Dr. Toni Sauncy has received the prestigious Worth Seagondollar Service Award medal from the Society of Physics Students (SPS).

According to the national SPS, this award is to be given in recognition of an exemplary level of commitment and service to the SPS and ΣΠΣ. To be considered for this award, an individual should have served on the SPS National Council or Executive Committee. The recipient's name will be engraved on a plaque that is displayed in the SPS National Office and their service biography will be added to the collection of readings for a Sigma Pi Sigma Induction or Installation Ceremony.

The award was first presented to its namesake, Worth Seagondollar of North Carolina State University, at the 1996 Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma, held in Atlanta. Dr. Lewis Worth Seagondollar, Ph.D., of Raleigh, NC, was a member of the Manhattan Project, first to measure the critical mass of Plutonium, and present at the Trinity Test. He was a very successful SPS chapter advisor at both the University of Kansas and North Carolina State University, and was a leading nuclear physicist. Seagondollar played a central role, as Sigma Pi Sigma President in the merger of the AIP Student Sections and Sigma Pi Sigma that created the Society of Physics Students. Selected also as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, he was an active member of numerous professional organizations, and is now a professor emeritus at NC State University. Dr. Seagondollar died peacefully in his sleep September 20, 2013.

Award Citation

Dr. Toni Sauncy has distinguished herself through her dedication and outstanding service to the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and Sigma Pi Sigma for over 20 years. As a chapter adviser, zone councilor, president of SPS, and former Director of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma, she had a profound impact on both the shape and mission of the Societies. Dr. Sauncy's dedication members and their advisers is evident throughout her career. Toni was instrumental in the development and writing of the SPS Career's Toolbox as a primary author, which is now in its 4th edition. As Director of the Societies from 2012-2014, Sauncy oversaw the daily operation of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma, including the production of AIP's Education publications: the Journal of Undergraduate Research in Physics, The SPS Observer, and Radiations. Dr. Sauncy has received SPS's highest award for faculty - the Outstanding Chapter Adviser award in 2017 for her work at Texas Lutheran University and previous appointment at Angelo State University. Toni has given over 100 presentations at local, regional, and national meetings of SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma. Sauncy holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics, a M.S. in Physics, and a B.S. in Mathematics (magna cum laude), all from Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Dr. Sauncy has continued her work through her time as President of AAPT (2022).

Dr. Toni Sauncy has embodied the Pillars of Sigma Pi Sigma at every step of her career and continues to tirelessly serve students and departments. For her visionary stewardship of the organization, many years of service and fellowship, and distinguished service to the physics and astronomy community through Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, we formally recognize Toni Sauncy as a Worth L. Seagondollar Award recipient in 2023.


Dr. Toni Sauncy served as the Director of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and Sigma Pi Sigma from 2012-2014 at the American Institute of Physics (AIP). While at AIP, Sauncy took on the challenge of leading the NSF-Funded Career Pathways project that has resulted in important new resources for undergraduate physics departments and physics students. She was previously the elected president of SPS, serving from 2009-2012 and recieved the Outstanding Chapter Adviser Award in 2017 from SPS. She was a professor in the Department of Physics at Angelo State University from 2000-2014, one of the schools featured as an "undergraduate program that works" in the SPIN-UP study. Dr. Sauncy continues to serve as Chair and chapter adviser at Texas Lutheran University. Sauncy has a history of proven leadership as demonstrated by her service on numerous collegiate and professional association committees, including those of APS, AAPT and SPS. Sauncy is a long-time friend of Sigma Pi Sigma and SPS, beginning first as a student, later as a chapter advisor and Zone Councilor for Zone 13 from 2005-2009.

In addition to her academic pursuits, she has a strong history of engaging the undergraduate physics community in physics outreach and scientific citizenship. Sauncy has a record of successfully funded research & research training projects in solid state materials physics. She is well known for her dedication to undergraduate students in and out of the classroom and has mentored more than 60 student research projects, which have resulted in numerous presentations at regional, national, and international professional physics meetings and conferences.