Looking back, looking forward

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6 January 2014

For AIP, 2013 was more than a year in the making, one that will be called out on the institute’s timeline. We have had several formative changes, not only in the corporate structure, but in the institute’s composition as well. As we usher in 2014, we look forward to using this positive momentum to continue to grow and evolve the institute as a whole and its many programs for the benefit of the physical sciences community.

AIP Publishing LLC logoThe Governing Board’s decision to separate AIP’s publishing activities from the institute took effect on February 1 with the formation of AIP Publishing LLC. The new company is run by CEO John Haynes, and has the dual responsibility of carrying out AIP’s publishing mission to disseminate high-quality research information and to do this in a way that also provides revenue so that AIP can support its programs and activities. During its first 11 months, AIP Publishing launched the new Scitation platform to help enhance researcher efficiency and information discoverability, and made operational improvements to the manuscript submission and peer-review processes. As a result, for some journals, time-to-publication has been reduced by as much as 40 percent. Emphasis is placed on quality and timeliness, to more effectively highlight the journals’ cutting-edge science content. AIP Publishing’s launched two new journals in the year, APL Materials, and Structural Dynamics (co-published with the American Crystallographic Association). For the New Year, AIP Publishing looks forward to adding Applied Physics Reviews. We will be hearing more about these publications in the coming months.

AMS sealFor the first time in 27 years, AIP welcomed a new Member Society, the American Meteorological Society (AMS), and its 14,000 members worldwide, including more than 3,000 students and 1,700 international members. The AIP umbrella is enriched by AMS’s inclusion; its science spans meteorology and related atmospheric, oceanographic, and hydrologic sciences. Subscription to Physics Today was a major draw for AMS, along with other benefits extended to all 120,000 scientists and educators represented under the AIP umbrella. The fortunate occasion of welcoming AMS into the AIP organization came on the heels of a relationship change with the American Geophysical Union, which is now an AIP Affiliated Society.

I believe that 2013 showed us substantial progress toward the realization of public access, with the OSTP’s February directive requiring funding agencies to submit plans for making publicly accessible the published research works that result from federal funding. This event definitively set a brisk pace for all stakeholders that extended throughout the entire year and one that will continue well into 2014. From my previous columns, you’ll know that I am optimistic for a pragmatic solution (i.e., CHORUS) that protects the value that publishers add to scholarship.

AIP Industrial Physics ForumAIP’s programs for the physical sciences community have much to report for 2013. It was a banner year of offerings for those in the corporate sector with events at four Member Society meetings. Panels, technical sessions, and networking mixers augmented the programming at the APS March Meeting, the AGU Meeting of the Americas, The Society of Rheology Annual Meeting, and the AVS International Symposium. We are looking forward to our second international Industrial Physics Forum, to take place in the fall in Sao Paolo, Brazil, and cosponsored by the International Centre for Theoretical Physics and the University of Campinas.

History Collections - Oral HistoryHistory programs finished a four-year study of Physics Entrepreneurship (HoPE) and published the final report. The study complements AIP’s earlier study on the History of Physicists in Industry. (Individuals can request copies of both reports by emailing NBL [at] aip.org.) The Niels Bohr Library and Archives also completed a four-year project to put 1,000 of its oral histories online. The project, mostly funded from two successive grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, has made the library’s interview collection easily accessible to those all over the world. Interview subjects include luminaries like Niels Bohr, Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg, and Richard Feynman, as well as contemporary physicists who are active today. Special attention in the coming year will be placed on digitizing and preserving the library’s most valuable brittle books and oversize photos.

Over the past year, the Center for History of Physics (CHP) teamed up with the History of Science Society and H-Net to start a forum and a listserv for historians interested in the physical sciences. CHP is also working to build a community of scholars for the future. Together with the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science, CHP revived a once-annual conference for graduate students in the history of the physical sciences that had not convened in recent years. Early-career scholars will have two conferences available to them in 2014, one in Philadelphia in late March and one at ACP in early April. Dr. Virginia Trimble provided funding toward the endowment of the CHP public lecture series. In recognition of this generous gift, AIP renamed the series the “Lyne Starling Trimble Science Heritage Lectures” after Dr. Trimble’s late father. The next lecture will be held in May, in collaboration with the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop.

Statistics chartThe Statistical Research Center (SRC) reported that academic year 2011–12 set highs for the number of physics bachelor’s and PhDs awarded in the United States—increases that were driven largely by US citizens. The center received a three-year NSF grant to continue a longitudinal study of astronomy graduate students, and published two reports about women in physics and astronomy that received a great deal of attention in the media, including The New York Times and The Huffington Post. In 2014, SRC will reveal the latest enrollment data for physics in high schools and a detailed report on PhD physics working in the private sector 10–15 years after earning their degrees.

AIP Government Policy FellowsThe government relations team partnered with APS to offer a new STEM Education Policy Fellowship, and named Julia Mundy as the first such fellow, who will be working at the US Department of Education. The Society of Physics Students also formed two new partnerships, one with APS to place an SPS summer intern in the Department of Education STEM Division and one with NIST to place an intern at the NIST Summer for Middle School Science Teachers. SPS worked with the SRC to compile the results of the AIP Career Pathways project and developed a Careers Toolbox for Physics Students. The first workshop using this material was held at a regional meeting of SPS hosted by Carthage College. For 2014, the staff has planned a major overhaul of its membership management system that will enable SPS to better serve and connect with its 4,200 members.

Physics Today’s presence on Facebook has really taken off, with more than half a million “Likes” and engaged fans. The most popular article on Physics Today’s website in 2013 was Steven Giddings’ feature article, Black Holes, Quantum Information, and the Foundations of Physics,” in the magazine’s April issue. Also popular was Ricardo Heras’ October Points of View essay, “Individualism: The Legacy of Great Physicists.” Remarkably, Heras wrote the article after finishing high school in Mexico. He’s now studying astrophysics at University College London.

The AIP Development team hosted its first Physics Nobel Celebration at the home of science historian Nancy Greenspan in Bethesda, MD. We were joined by Nobel laureates John Mather and Adam Reiss, National Medal of Science winner Jim Gates, and other notables in science communication. The following morning, our news, media, and publishing teams were in full swing for the 2013 announcement from Stockholm to help inform the public about the groundbreaking science behind the most recent prize.

The Inside Science brand has been steadily growing its content and reputation for delivering quality science news. The Inside Science website broke one million visits last year, with more people enticed to stay longer (over 2.8 million page views). The article “Physicist Proposes New Way to Think About Intelligence,” by senior editor Chris Gorski, became the most popular story item ever on insidescience.org, with a quarter million viewers to date.

Cool Science TricksInside Science TV entered its first stations in the top 20 television markets, including Detroit, Cleveland, and Sacramento, and signed its first international licensing deals, with DaVinci Learning in Europe and Al Jazeera in the Middle East. Among the outlets that picked up or cited Inside Science content in their coverage were Scientific American Online, Txchnologist, Smithsonian, The Daily Beast, and Discovery News. A new license agreement with Infobase Publishing, a leading provider of educational content, will bring ISTV streaming video to schools and public libraries in the coming months. (Watch "Cool Science Tricks").

The media services team continuously combs through the AIP Publishing journals and many Member Society meeting abstracts to identify science that would be of interest to the general public, and writes compelling lay-language releases for the press to pick up and disseminate in media networks throughout the world. In 2013, the team introduced the daily “AIP News Reporter” email, to identify relevant mentions of AIP or AIP Publishing in the news, along with other noteworthy stories and trends of interest to the institute.

GradschoolShopper revamped its website and expanded its international listings. Physics Today Jobs also introduced a redesigned job site, along with the six partner sites. As the year drew to a close, the AIP web management team completed a major redesign of the AIP.org website. The new site is not only visually appealing, but also streamlines web publishing with seamless content management. You’ll hear more about this in next week’s column.

Despite the still slow recovery from the 2008 global recession and a near grid-locked federal budget process in the US, 2013 was a good year for AIP and its Member Societies. As we move into a cold winter season in North America, there are hopeful signs of a thaw on how the federal budgets are negotiated. I look forward to working with all of our Member Societies and partners for a productive 2014.