APS News

Meeting To Rotate Sites

Beginning in 1996, the annual APS Joint Spring Meeting with the American Association of Physics Teachers - traditionally held in Washington, DC - will move out of Washington in alternate years in an attempt to boost attendance by providing easier access to more APS members, particularly students. In addition, a revised program structure will grant divisions more freedom to tailor the format of their sessions, emphasize interdivisional activities, include focused sessions, and seek more participation by the AAPT. The meeting will be back in Washington, DC in 1997. In addition to students we are trying to get more young researchers to attend the meeting. The 1996 meeting will also include annual meetings of the Divisions of Astrophysics, Computational Physics and Physics of Beams.

The APS Council and several committees have been discussing alternatives to the April Meeting with unit representatives for several years. Twenty-five years ago, the Society held four general meetings each year. By 1990 only the March and April Meetings remained, with the latter serving primarily as a secondary meeting for most of the participating units. Furthermore, the rising prices in Washington, DC, were becoming too high for the APS membership to afford, and the April Meeting was rapidly becoming very regionalized, with declining attendance as well as the number of contributed papers.

However, according to APS Meetings Manager Michael Scanlan, "The huge success of the APS March Meeting - which is the largest physics meeting in the U.S. and possibly the world - sometimes overshadows its smaller cousin," he said. "But the April Meeting is an important event for the Society. It offers a much wider variety of physics, with sessions ranging from nuclear physics, plasma physics, measurement science, particles and fields, few-body systems, education, and history of physics."

Last year the Society had a plan to combine the March and April Meetings into one general meeting (APS NEWS, May 1994). However, objections from some divisions resulted in changing those plans and making improvements to the existing structure to make the April Meeting more attractive to participants. An alternate proposal from the Committee on Meetings, that the April Meeting be moved to the fall proved equally unpopular, since many of the APS units hold their annual meetings then and were reluctant to change their structure.

"The rotation away from Washington DC in 1996 and 1998 is an attempt by the Task Force on Meetings to make the April meeting more attractive to more APS members," said Ernest Henley, University of Washington, who chaired the Task Force. "We hope that it will allow the APS to obtain direct data on the balance between attendance of young (and perhaps industrial) physicists and the importance of being close to research funding sources."

So, next year's "Washington, DC, April Meeting" will be held in Indianapolis, 2-5 May 1996. Why was Indianapolis chosen as the 1996 site? Scanlan explained that when the March Meeting was held there in 1992, it had the highest attendance ever of any APS meeting, with more than 5,200 physicists participating. It is hoped that the city's proximity to facilities such as Fermi Lab and to Midwestern universities and colleges, national laboratories, as well as industries will spark increased attendance at the 1996 "Spring" Meeting. In addition, it is much more affordable. Scanlan said that the quoted 1996 hotel room rates in Indianapolis are 30 percent less than those in Washington, DC, last year. The meeting is being held over a weekend so that the cost of air travel will also be reduced.

The 1996 APS/AAPT Meeting will feature the traditional Unity Session, as well as technical and non-technical sessions on a wide variety of topics. Other special events will include an opening night reception for graduate students, as well as an exhibitors' reception, and the ceremonial banquet will feature a physics demonstration.


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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin