Honors, Awards, and Other Opportunities in Physics

Graduating with Honors

Students are encouraged to work toward graduating with honors as the culmination of their research experience. To graduate with the designation “Honors in Physics” or “Honors in Biophysics”, students must pass Physics 381, write a thesis on the results of the research in that course, pass an oral exam on the research and related topics, present their research in a short talk, and obtain a GPA of 3.300 in physics and 3.000 overall. Graduation with honors is an achievement noted on the Wake Forest transcript and is encouraged for all biophysics and physics majors.

Visit the undergraduate alumni page for past graduates and research topics. Detailed instructions for the student and research mentor can be found here.

Speas award

The Speas Award is given in honor of William E. Speas who taught physics at Wake Forest from 1920 to 1959. The Award is given at the discretion of the faculty to the graduating physics major who best exemplified Professor Speas’ spirit and enthusiasm for physics. The typical student who has received this award has had outstanding grades, has graduated with honors, and has demonstrated a genuine dedication to and enthusiasm for physics.  The award has a monetary component, and the student’s name is inscribed on a plaque permanently located in the lounge of Olin Physical Laboratory.

Sigma Pi Sigma Honorary Society

Membership in Sigma Pi Sigma is based on the student’s GPA at the end of the spring semester. Undergraduate students inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma each year are listed in the following Sigma Pi Sigma archive.

Scholarships and Fellowships

The following scholarships and fellowships are available to students who major in physics at Wake Forest University:

Randall Ledford Scholarships in Physics

Wake Forest University offers students who know that they are interested in physics the opportunity to begin physics research early in their college experience. The Ledford Scholarships are awarded to students who show outstanding potential in physics. The Ledford Scholarship I is a half-tuition award and will next be awarded to a student entering in the fall of 2020. The Ledford Scholarship II will next be available specifically to a student who is a resident of North Carolina and will enter the university in the fall of 2022.

These scholarships are funded through the generosity of Dr. Randall D. Ledford, WFU class of 1972. Dr. Ledford is Senior Vice-President and Chief Technology Officer of Emerson Electric Company, one of the world’s leading electronics companies. Before joining Emerson Electric, Dr. Ledford was president and general manager of several divisions of Texas Instruments Inc. including software, digital imaging, enterprise solutions and process automation. He began his career at Bell Telephone Laboratories where he worked on UNIX development, fiber optic communication and microwave transmissions. While at Texas Instruments, Dr. Ledford led the company’s development of the Digital Light Processor (DLP) used in many high definition televisions and video projectors.

Wake Forest University has a comprehensive website with information on undergraduate, post-graduate scholarships and fellowships. Interested students are encouraged to examine this website early in their time at Wake Forest, and consult with the director as early as spring of the first year. Students interested in the Peace Corps should also contact the director as well.

Some scholarships of these scholarships and fellowships include:

SMART Scholarships

The SMART scholarship was stablished by the department of Defense (DoD) to support the education and recruitment of undergraduate and graduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics fields for recruiting and retaining civilian scientists and engineers to work in DoD agencies and laboratories. Students may apply at any stage of their undergraduate program.

Goldwater Scholarships

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship is designed to attract outstanding students into careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of merit to students who are sophomores or juniors during the current academic year and who have excellent academic records and demonstrated interest in and potential for careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering. The scholarship covers eligible expenses for tuition, fees, books, and room and board to a maximum of $7,500 per academic year. The application deadline is December 1 (internal for nomination) and the last Friday in January (national deadline).

Churchill, Fullbright, Marshall and Rhodes Scholarships

For additional information on these scholarships, see the Wake Forest Scholars pages.

Churchill Scholarships

The Churchill Scholarship is for one year of graduate study in engineering, mathematics, and the physical and natural sciences at Churchill College, Cambridge University in England. The scholarship is available to graduating seniors. To apply please contact the Wake Forest Scholars Director, Dr. Tom Phillips by May 15 your junior year with an “expressed intention to apply” in order to allow ample time for development of your application. The national deadline is on or around November 1 your senior year .

Fulbright Scholarships

Fulbright Scholarships provide students with a bachelor’s degree the opportunity to study or affiliate for one year at a foreign institution. To apply please contact the Wake Forest Scholars Director, Dr. Tom Phillips by May 15 your junior year with an “expressed intention to apply” in order to allow ample time for development of your application. The final application deadlines your senior year are September 1 (internal for nomination) and on or around October 9th (national deadline).

Marshall Scholarships

Marshall Scholarships finance young Americans of high ability to study for a degree in the United Kingdom. Up to forty Scholars are selected each year to study at graduate level at an UK institution in any field of study. As future leaders, with a lasting understanding of British society, Marshall Scholars strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions. To apply, please contact the Wake Forest Scholars Director, Dr. Tom Phillips by May 15 your junior year with an “expressed intention to apply” in order to allow ample time for development of your application. The final application deadlines your senior year are August 1 (internal for nomination) with a national deadline is on or around October 1 your senior year .

Rhodes Scholarships

The Rhodes Scholarships are the oldest and most celebrated international fellowship awards in the world.Rhodes Scholars are chosen not only for their outstanding scholarly achievements, but for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in whatever domains their careers may lead. To apply please contact the Wake Forest Scholars Director, Dr. Tom Phillips by May 1 your junior year with an “expressed intention to apply” in order to allow ample time for development of your application.The national deadline is the first Wednesday of October your senior year .

Summer Research Opportunities

Wake Forest Research Fellowships

The Wake Forest Research Fellowship Program is sponsored by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and is designed to encourage individual Wake Forest undergraduates to join their professors as junior partners on scholarly research projects. While improving opportunities for mentoring and helping students to progress into advanced work, these are also a means of supporting successful and dedicated students with financial scholarships. The application deadline is usually in early February for the following summer.

REU opportunities

The National Science Foundation supports undergraduate participation in research through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. For information on how to apply for an NSF REU please read the following article. Deadlines depend on the site.

Amgen Scholars

The Amgen scholars program is an undergraduate summer research program in science and biotechnology. The application deadline is early to mid February, depending on the site.

Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships

SULI (Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships) is a DOE program where undergraduate science and engineering majors can undertake research in a paid internship at a DOE National Lab. Depending on the national laboratory, these internships may be during the summer or academic year.

National Institute of Standards and Technology

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) offers a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF). SURF students work for 11 weeks, contributing to an ongoing research project under the guidance of a NIST scientist or engineer from one of the Institute’s nine major laboratories (Physics, Manufacturing Engineering, Building and Fire Research, Chemical Sciences, Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Information Technology, Materials Science, Neutron Research, and Nanoscale Science.

SPS Internships for Undergraduates

SPS internships are broad-based learning opportunities for undergraduate physics majors. Students are placed in organizations and agencies that utilize the energy and diversity of aspiring students and contribute to their professional development through meaningful assignments, both relevant to the institution’s programs and in the advancement of physics or allied sciences. Participating organizations also assign one or more mentors from its senior staff to guide the interns’ work and overall experience.

Summer Internship in Germany (DAAD)

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) – in cooperation with science organizations in North America and Germany – is pleased to invite undergraduate students from the US, Canada and the UK in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering to apply for a summer research internship in Germany. RISE summer placements take place with research groups at universities and top research institutions across Germany. The RISE interns are matched with a doctoral student whom they assist and who will also serve as their mentor.

RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Another overseas research program that encourages American student applicants is the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) at Aachen University. Most of your time in the Aachen program will be spent on science research, but for the first two weeks participants work on an intensive German language course. The program also provides organized outings for its participants.

Nakatani RIES Fellowship in Japan for Science & Engineering Undergraduate Students

Nakatani RIES: Research & International Experience Program connects undergraduates with the best of science & engineering research in Japan and is open to freshman and sophomore science & engineering students attending U.S. universities. The program serves as a catalyst for U.S. students who are interested in future graduate study and research and contributes to the development of a generation of globally-engaged scientists & engineers who have the technical and culture skills to contribute to vibrant international research collaborations in the future.

Wake Forest Angela F. Harper Fellowship

The Wake Forest Angela F. Harper Fellowship is a one-time award designed to promote the summer research of physics majors or those working in the physics department under the mentorship of a Wake Forest University faculty member across the summer months. Applications are due February 16, 2018.