Tuesday, January 19, 2010
H. Frederick Dylla

Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

Explore and expound

Promoting excellence is part of the mission of any scientific association. Awards, prizes, and fellowships highlight scientific discovery, communication, leadership, and outreach.  Several recent awards bring to light outstanding achievements in physics and bring well-deserved recognition for the individual scientists who expand our collective body of knowledge. From January 3-7 the American Astronomical Society convened its 215th Meeting in Washington, DC, and welcomed 2010 with a big bang. AIP and AAS used the occasion to honor Lennox L. Cowie of the University of Hawaii with the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics "for his innovative observations and studies of the distant universe, which have advanced significantly our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies." For the past 25 years, Cowie has worked at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he uses data collected by the Hubble Space Telescope and the telescopes on Mauna Kea to search for the oldest stars and galaxies in the universe, the first ones formed after the Big Bang. Cowie is a fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom and the American Physical Society. Catherine O'Riordan, vice president of Physics Resources, presented Cowie with the prize, given annually for the past 30 years to recognize outstanding work in astrophysics. Cowie delivered a plenary lecture entitled "The High-Redshift Galaxy Jigsaw Puzzle."  His lecture is available on Ustream.

Equally important to advances in research are the strides made to raise the profile of physics in society. AIP's Andrew W. Gemant Award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics. The awards committee aptly designated Brian B. Schwartz of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as recipient of the 2009 Gemant award "for ingenious creativity in engaging the public with the history and cultural aspects of physics and for inventing ways to celebrate physics through such varied vehicles as plays, musicals, exhibitions, street fairs, cabaret, posters, and opera." Schwartz is a professor of physics, vice president for Research and Sponsored Programs, and co-director of the New Media Lab at the CUNY Graduate Center—a perfect career blend that enables him to lead and inspire with his passion for expression and artful communication of the sciences. Schwartz chose the AAS meeting as the venue to receive his prize and deliver the Gemant Award lecture. His public presentation, entitled "Science as Performance: Communicating and Educating through Theater, Music and Dance," highlighted a range of events that he has produced to bring together science and the arts. Schwartz is also on the advisory board for the Inaugural USA Science and Engineering Festival, which will take place in Washington, DC, on October 23-24, 2010. AIP will participate by teaming up with APS and AAPT to run a LaserFest booth at this first national science festival.

Publishing Matters

AGU and AIP—unifying a universe of physical scientists

In mid-December, AIP products and services were well represented in the exhibit hall at the AGU 2009 Fall Meeting in San Francisco. In addition to displaying information about our journals—including Chaos, Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, Physics of Fluids, and Physics of Plasmas—AIP's booth provided information about AIP UniPHY and the upcoming AGUniverse, a professional scientific networking service that is integrated with AIP UniPHY and geared toward AGU members. Previewed to attendees at this meeting, AGUniverse is scheduled to launch in Spring 2010. Follow the AGU on Twitter and Facebook to hear news about AGUniverse and other AGU activities. Marketing director of magazines Jeff Bebee staffed an additional booth, promoting Computing in Science and Engineering to our largest, most diverse audience.

PRC Matters

Career Network joins IEEE Computer Society at SC09

Physics Today Career Network (PTCN) promoted its partner IEEE Computer Society (IEEECS) Career Center at the 2009 Supercomputing Conference (SC09) November 16-18 in Portland, Oregon. The IEEECS, one of SC09's co-sponsors, staffed a booth promoting its "Raise Your Standards" initiative on membership, publications, and services. Staff from PTCN demonstrated the IEEECS online job site, marketed the IEEECS Career Center to more than 300 exhibitors, and met with many of them to discuss their recruitment needs. In addition, booth staff publicized CiSE magazine, published jointly by AIP and IEEECS, to the 11,000 conference participants.

Outreach at the Center for History of Physics and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

The Center for History of Physics and the Niels Bohr Library & Archives mostly thrive through collegial collaboration with other organizations and individual researchers. From one perspective we provide an information service, more than that we work with co-equals to reach common goals: to preserve and make known the heritage of physics and allied sciences.

One way we reach out is by presenting posters and talks at scientific and scholarly meetings. Our poster at the American Geophysical Union meeting in December 2009 in San Francisco alerted people in geoscience education to our many resources. Greg Good, director of the Center, presented a talk on January 10 to historians of oceanography and biology. Some participants were surprised to learn how much is on our web site and in our collections — and that oceanography, biophysics, and medical physics are well represented.

Communication with many different publics, both internal and external to AIP, helps us find ways in which we can collaborate and help each other.

Around AIP

A Message from Club Quarters

Club Quarters logo Excerpted from Club Quarters' most recent letter to AIP:  "During these challenging economic times we want you to know that we value and appreciate the relationship we share and to thank you for your continued business support. In recognition of the weakened economy, Club Quarters has kept rates for 2010 competitive with little or no increase in the majority of our markets. . . . We are pleased to advise Club Quarters will continue to subsidize rates for [AIP] employees, their families and friends on weekends and holiday periods at rates starting at $56 for yet another year. Corporate apartments are available at all Club Quarters with full services and low Club Quarters rates."

For the Club Quarters password or for the 2010 AIP rate chart, please email AIP Matters.

Member Society Spotlights

AGU meeting attracts thousands

AGU logoWith a record-breaking 16,350 attendees at the 2009 AGU Fall Meeting, the Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco, was teeming with researchers who study the Earth and our solar system. Considering that the AGU is the world's biggest Earth and space sciences organization—with more than 51,000 members from 134 countries—it wasn't surprising to see a broad range of attendees and topical coverage at this meeting. Topics ranging from astronomy to volcanoes were covered in detail by approximately 10,000 posters and 5,000 talks presented throughout the week. Several featured lecture videos are now available for download. If you missed the meeting, there was plenty of on-the-ground coverage in the press and blogosphere. To date over 21,000 words have been written about meeting highlights and attendees' experiences in the official meeting blog itself, plus nearly 30 other blogs covering the event are listed on the meeting's blogroll. Peter Weiss, AGU Public Information Manager, notes how the research news made it into the mainstream media. Here's an excerpt from his blog post:

"Truly smoking was a report on the first views of planetary crust forming deep beneath the Pacific Ocean. The story made it onto national television networks, perhaps because of its scientific importance, but more likely because of spectacular, high-def, video footage of balls of flame belching from an undersea volcano like cannon blasts. National Geographic's version can be seen here."

Astronomers abound in DC

AAS logo The AAS meeting took place in our nation's capital from January 3-7 and attracted more than 3,400 people. Astronomy has its share of science allure; conference goers learned about battling black holes, exploding stars, the dark side of cosmology, and galaxies stirred, not shaken. It's science that can intrigue almost anyone. In fact, a repairman gave an invited talk—on what it's like to care for the Hubble Space Telescope. The banquet was held at the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum on the Washington, DC, mall. Jack Hehn, director of Education at AIP and assistant director Gary White represented AIP Education. White reports, "The undergraduate presence at the meeting was impressive, with hundreds at the orientation session and probably two dozen grad schools and REU programs exhibiting. The education sessions that I attended were presented to packed rooms of 200 people or more. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden's talk was well-received, especially his stance about not pursuing human space travel at the expense of the science." Assistant director of the AIP Statistical Research Center Rachel Ivie gave a presentation on the status of the jointly funded AIP-AAS longitudinal study of astronomy graduate students. The study will track astronomy graduate students over the course of several years, to collect data on people who obtain graduate degrees in astronomy, people who leave the field, and on astronomers who work outside the traditional employment sectors of academe and the observatories.

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