H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

And the Nobel goes to…
AIP's science media team always looks forward to the second week in October when the Nobel Prizes in science are announced—especially Tuesday morning at 6:00 am when the physics prizes are revealed. The preparation for this day begins much earlier in the year. Our media efforts are anchored by Phil Schewe, who celebrated 30 years with AIP this summer. AIP relies on Phil and his Division of Media and Government Relations (MGR) colleagues for many tasks including generating the year-end list of Top 10 Physics Stories of the Year and the nomination list for speakers in the Frontiers of Physics session at AIP's annual Industrial Physics Forum. Candidates on both lists feed into the highly secretive "Phil's list" of likely winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics. I am not at liberty to divulge the algorithm used to arrive at this list nor whether rogue copies of the list are used for office wagers (although I am advised to note that any wagers placed in such office pools involve no monetary transfers).

The world's media outlets demand immediate access to background stories on the Nobel winners as soon as they are announced by the Nobel Foundation at noon in Stockholm. This requires the AIP media team to be armed with lay language explanations, biographical information, photos, and contact information for the chosen winners within minutes of the announcement.

Nobel physics prize winners, from the left: Charles Kao, Willard Boyle, and George Smith. Photo credit: Reuters and NAE Yet all bets were off when news from Stockholm revealed that the winners were not on Phil's list this year! Nevertheless, the winners—Charles Kao for his elucidation of the means for producing low-loss optical fiber for light-based communications, and Willard Boyle and George Smith for their invention of a solid-state light detector, the charge-coupled device (CCD)—are extremely worthy of this most prestigious prize in physics. Personally, I was thrilled with the choice because of the importance of these inventions to all web-based communications, in addition to their importance to science from medical to cosmological imaging.

Despite the choice of dark-horse candidates, the MGR team produced first-rate coverage including a full page of background materials with information from several other divisions within the institute, including the History Center, Physics Today, and AIP Publishing, with support from the AIP web team. This information went out to reporters before most people on the East Coast had finished their breakfast. Phil was quoted in two different forms of Associated Press coverage; the release and associated quotes were picked up by news services worldwide, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Science News, and National Geographic. For more information, see AIP's Nobel Prize resources webpage.

Tuesday, October 6, began with the announcement of the Nobel Prizes in Physics, but the recognition of scientific achievement continued later in the day. In the evening, the 2008 National Medals of Science and the National Medals of Technology and Innovation were awarded to a remarkable group of scientists and engineers at a ceremony at the US Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA. The National Medal winners are honored with a bronze medal, a dinner with their peers, and a White House ceremony. The Nobel winners are invited to spend a week in Stockholm—where they are treated as royalty by the Swedish royalty. And each prize totals $1.4 million. Do we in the US appropriately recognize our best scientists and engineers?

…See the Member Society Spotlight below to learn about ACA's close connection to the 2009 Nobel scene.


Preparing for the 11th Joint MMM–Intermag Conference
In mid-September, an industrious group of volunteers from the magnetism community gathered at AIP's College Park office to compile the scientific program for the 11th Joint MMM–Intermag Conference to take place in January 2010 in Washington, DC. The Conference on Magnetism and Magnetic Materials (MMM) joins with the IEEE every third year for what has proven to be a very successful joint meeting. MMM conferences bring together scientists and engineers interested in recent developments in all branches of fundamental and applied magnetism. Members of the program committee sorted more than 2300 abstracts. For the first time, abstract submissions from the US were less than 25% of the total, while abstracts from China, Japan, and Korea made up about half of the total submissions. All accepted abstracts will be available on DVD to attendees. Publication of the proceedings will be split between AIP's Journal of Applied Physics and IEEE Transactions on Magnetics.

Steering committees for both the 11th Joint MMM–Intermag Conference and the 55th annual MMM conference—which will take place in November 2010 in Atlanta—also met at ACP to work on budgets, programs, and site logistics for their respective meetings.
Program committee members for the 11th Joint MMM–Intermag Conference making tough decisions about more than 2300 abstracts.Program co-chairs for the 11th Joint MMM–Intermag Conference display the completed conference program. From the left: Bernard Dieny (CEA Grenoble), Hiroaki Muraoka (Tohoku University), and Christopher Leighton (University of Minnesota).

Career Network attends IAEWS annual meeting
International Association of Employment Web Sites logo Physics Today Career Network attended the Annual Member Congress of the International Association of Employment Web Sites (IAEWS) on September 9 in Hollywood, FL. The IAEWS provides a forum for members to discuss, ratify, and promote standards of operation that will best serve the job seekers, employers, and recruiters using the members' job sites. Topics discussed at the meeting included the management of a company's online reputation, methods to boost sales in a down economy, the importance of working with recruitment advertising agencies, and the future of the online job board industry. PTCN has been a member of the IAEWS since IAEWS's inception; the IAEWS logo appears on most of the pages of the five Career Network websites, designating PTCN as an online recruitment industry leader.

Open enrollment season
Every fall AIP holds its annual open enrollment meetings to announce its benefit plan offerings for the upcoming year. Last week AIP employees received a detailed memo highlighting plan changes and costs as well as the open enrollment meeting schedule. Please review the information carefully. All staff members are strongly encouraged to attend these meetings (College Park - October 14; Melville - October 15) to learn about the 2010 plans and ask any questions that they may have. If you are unable to attend the meetings or have additional questions, feel free to meet with a representative of the Human Resources department. All enrollments must be completed by November 6, 2009. All benefit plans and changes will become effective January 1, 2010.

Who we are—Media and Government Relations
AIP Media and Government Relations (see the organizational chart, page 61) is tasked with building awareness of and appreciation and support for physics and related fields among the general public. Under the direction of Alicia Torres, the staff works with Member Societies to advance this goal and provide a series of programs, services, and initiatives in the area of media and government relations. MGR staff communicates to the general public through the news media to spread information efficiently and builds on the spread of information with legislative initiatives. MGR hosts news products such as Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science, AIP's syndicated TV news feed; Inside Science News Service, AIP's recently improved newswire; and FYI, AIP's update on science policy. The staff also provides services for Member Societies and the physics community to help promote their messages to the public and to build support among policy makers. These services include managing or supporting virtual and onsite meeting newsrooms, analyzing policy needs and moving legislative goals in Congress, administering fellowships in Congress and the State Department, and providing media relations support for events and campaigns.
MGR staff, from the left: Rob Boisseau, Emilie Lorditch, Dick Jones, Christina Unger, Devin Powell, Martha Heil, Sam Ofori, Tatiana Bonilla, Phil Schewe, Alicia Torres, Jason Bardi, Jim Dawson, Karin Heineman, Chris Gorski, Chris Nicolini, and Jennifer Greenamoyer.

New laureate in the ranks of ACA
ACA logo American Crystallographic Association member Thomas A. Steitz of Yale University; Venkatraman Ramakrishnan of the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England; and Ada E. Yonath of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, are the recipients of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome. From left, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas A. Steitz, and Ada E. Yonath will share the 2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.Photo credit: Reuters All three used x-ray crystallography to solve and refine dozens of structures at progressively higher resolution over the past three decades. The ribosome is a large molecular complex of RNA and protein with two major subunits. The smaller 30S subunit binds the messenger RNA that constitutes the protein's genetic blueprint, as well as the transfer RNA that carries each specific amino acid to be added to the growing protein chain. The larger 50S subunit catalyzes the formation of the bond between each amino acid and the growing protein chain. Structures of the ribosome lead to an understanding of how proteins are generated—residue by residue—and serve as a molecular target to reveal how a specific class of antibiotics function by blocking peptide synthesis. Steitz is not the first ACA member to become a Nobel laureate. Also affiliated with ACA were chemistry prize winners William Lipscomb (Steitz's PhD advisor) in 1976, Johann Deisenhofer in 1988, and Jerome Karle and Herbert Hauptman in 1985, and physics prize recipients Clifford Shull and Bertram Brockhouse in 1994.

To learn more about the ribosome, see this past Protein Data Bank's Molecule of the Month feature.

Errata for the October 5, 2009 issue of AIP Matters

The photo captions in the story "Diversity Matters" identified the subjects in reverse position. Anthony Johnson was on the left in the first photo, and David Ernst was on the left of the second photo.

"Who We Are" article, clarification: The ACP Childcare Center provides early childhood education services for children and legal dependents, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews of all eligible ACP tenant society employees.

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