H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

Unprecedented opportunities for science
Last Tuesday, President Obama signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act— at $787 billion it is the single largest economic stimulus bill in the history of the nation. There was considerable agreement among the nation's top economists that the US economy needed a jolt that only the federal government could provide. The president's chief economic adviser advocated for a bill that was "targeted, timely, and temporary." Given the speed with which the new 111th Congress passed the bill, the "timeliness" was achieved.

Supporters and critics of the bill agreed that it should include funding for projects that are "shovel ready." These projects—such as the nation's backlog of repair and renovation to civil infrastructure—will create jobs in the very short term. How the economy responds to the new funding will not likely be known for at least two or three years. The bill's success will depend on the government's ability to spend these funds wisely and on the private sector's response to it and other housing and banking legislation.

As noted in my January 26 AIP Matters commentary on this stimulus bill, the initial House and Senate versions included substantial funding increases for science. The science community was treated extraordinarily well in the final bill signed by the president. Despite the partisan vote for the bill as a whole, science continues to enjoy strong support from both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. As detailed in last week's FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News #15, the bill included more than $21.5 billion of scientific R&D funding for agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Defense, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and NASA.

Congress wants this R&D money to produce near-term economic benefits. The new money will allow science agencies to fund many worthy research proposals that were shelved for lack of money. Important instrument upgrades will proceed. Run times at expensive national laboratory facilities will be extended.

Congress is also looking beyond the next few years. They want this funding to transform the American economy. This money will likely fund "the next big thing," increase student interest in science, and give the United States the scientific, engineering, and technical workforce it needs to compete globally. 

AIP is well positioned to respond to the opportunities and challenges this and future funding provides. Our Media and Government Relations team will advocate for funding to continue in the years ahead. Our Education Division will continue its mission to improve the teaching of physics in colleges and universities. The Statistical Research Center will track the resulting education and employment trends. AIP's archival and electronic journals, magazines, books, and conference proceedings will document the research results. In the years ahead, we hope that our Corporate Associates and the Center for History of Physics will identify this year as the beginning of a new era for science. This is an exciting time for the scientific community.


PSP annual conference: Focus on the user
Professional Scholarly Publishing Division logo
In early February, the Professional Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers held its annual conference in Washington, DC, which several AIP staff attended. At the exhibition, AIP promoted the Scitation platform and a range of publishing services. "Focus on the user" was the theme of the conference with sessions covering such topics as custom publishing in the digital age, delivery of content to handheld devices (for example, smartphones and e-book readers), the rise of the Asian megamarkets in China and India, and online advertising. The hot topic for the meeting, however, was undoubtedly open access. In the plenary session, AIP Executive Director Fred Dylla gave a well-received talk on developments in public-access policy and the copyright debate. A lively discussion ensued of the business issues facing publishers today. 

Former SPS intern Justin Reeder (UW-Platteville) poses with the new SPS banner in the exhibit hall. SPS explores "A Universe of Wonder" with AAPT and AAAS
The Society of Physics Students (SPS) had an eventful week February 12-16, during the joint AAPT/AAAS meeting in Chicago. Assistant SPS Director Thomas Olsen (left) and SPS President Earl Blodgett (right) with Sam Lofland (center), recipient of the 2009 SPS Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award. Seventeen undergraduate students presented posters and oral presentations on their research or outreach projects during two SPS sessions. AIP's Lydia Quijada helped SPS unveil its 2009 banner, "A Universe of Wonder," in the exhibit hall, where SPS advisers, members, and enthusiasts learned more about SPS programs, awards, and the 2009 theme's tie-in to the International Year of Astronomy. During the awards ceremony, SPS Director Gary White was honored with an AAPT Distinguished Service Citation for his leadership in SPS's many contributions to AAPT in both its meetings and programs. The citations are the only AAPT awards for exceptional service given directly to members. In addition, SPS President Earl Blodgett presented the annual Outstanding Chapter Advisor Award to Sam Lofland, SPS adviser at Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ. SPS presents this award annually to faculty members who have excelled in the role of SPS adviser.

Getting more out of eTIME
Most of us are familiar with completing our time sheets each week. Did you know, however, there is a wealth of helpful information in the Enterprise eTIME system? For instance, you can:

  1. review records of time other than the current pay period (including a range of dates) simply by using the drop-down menu in the "time period" window at the top of your screen; or
  2. run a "time detail" report for any period, by selecting "reports" on the toolbar; or
  3. print accrual balances in "My Information," then "My Reports," in the left column of the screen.

Whether you are a manager who needs to review staff records, or an employee who wants to see details of used or accrued time off, powerful reporting resources are at your fingertips.

Who we are—VP, Publishing Office
The Office of the Vice President, Publishing (as shown on page 28 of the AIP organizational chart) oversees the entire AIP publishing program, including the AIP journals, conference proceedings, translation journals, Publishing Services, Fulfillment and Marketing, and all operations of the Publishing Center. The office is also responsible for the execution of AIP's strategic plan for publishing, all business development activities, and management of publishing financial analysis and business intelligence initiatives. John Haynes, the new Vice President, Publishing (as reported in the last issue of AIP Matters), leads a talented team, with each team member playing a significant role in the publishing operations. You will learn more about their roles in subsequent "who we are" columns. Below are two photos of the group (with some overlap).

Office of the VP, Publishing (from the left): Doug LaFrenier, Jim Donohue, Pat Hoeffner, John Haynes, Lori Carlin, Tim Ingoldsby, and Mark Cassar.

Office of the VP, Publishing, continued (from the left): (standing) Terry Hulbert, Wendy Dunn, Lisa Arnold, Pat Hoeffner, and Graham Bruce; (seated) John Haynes and Tim Ingoldsby.

AAS brings the galaxy closer to earth
AAS logo The American Astronomical Society (AAS), together with a host of partners working to make the 2009 International Year of Astronomy (IYA) a rich and wondrous experience for students of all ages around the globe, officially launched the next phase its Galileoscope project last week. During 2009, this ambitious program aims to make and distribute, at cost, 1 million "Galileoscopes"—primarily to schoolchildren. "Our team of science education experts, astronomers, and engineers have applied all we have learned in many years of designing the best telescopes on the planet and in space in order to tackle this very challenging project: an inexpensive high-quality telescope specifically designed to promote inquiry and to educate and inspire children," says Stephen Pompea, a project leader for the Galileoscope program and director of the US IYA effort. Other key leaders of the project are Rick Fienberg, editor emeritus of Sky and Telescope magazine, and Doug Arion of Carthage College.

telescope AAS Executive Officer Kevin Marvel explains, "Galileoscopes are durable telescopes of high quality that not only allow you to see celestial objects well, but also teach the user how telescopes actually work. They are capable of seeing the moons of Jupiter, mountains and craters on the Moon, and the stars that make up the Milky Way—the three key observations Galileo made and then publicized in his book Siderius Nuncius or Starry Messenger. In addition, the telescope is capable of clearly showing the rings of Saturn, an observation that Galileo could not make with his telescope." Students become actively engaged by assembling the instrument, an exercise that gives them firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of the telescope. Studying the moon and planets is accessible, and amateur astronomers are born. "The Galileoscope is the telescope we wished we had as kids: easy to use and powerful with a clear, bright view. Looking through the Galileoscope emotionally moves kids and adults with the beauty of the Moon and planets. Building the Galileoscope shows them how telescopes work and lets them conduct their own experiments with lenses," says Pompea.

So, the price of this tool? An unbelievable $15, and bulk orders are even less expensive. AAS and the Galileo team are to be commended for this accomplishment! The Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees took a look through the telescope at last week's AAPT/AAAS meeting and declared it a good value. Reaching underserved populations worldwide is more challenging—the team is actively seeking support from corporations and individuals to underwrite these efforts and the web site allows donations along the lines.

Galileoscopes can be purchased online, at www.galileoscope.org.  AIP's Society of Physics Students already plans to buy and distribute several hundred Galileoscopes, to enhance SPS chapter outreach efforts. 

"I've never been involved with a project with as much potential to touch so many people, and I am fantastically excited we are launching the telescope during the International Year of Astronomy 2009," says Marvel. "This instrument is so revolutionary that it will have a lasting impact and be available for years to come."

We invite your feedback to this newsletter via e-mail to aipmatters@aip.org.

For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.