APS News

Friedman Chosen as APS Vice-President in 1996 Election

friedmanMembers of The American Physical Society have elected Jerome Friedman, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to be the Society's next vice-president. Friedman's term begins on 1 January, when he will succeed Andrew Sessler (Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory), who will become president-elect. Friedman will become APS president in 1999. The 1997 president is D. Allan Bromley (Yale University).

In other election results, Wick Haxton of the University of Washington was elected as chair-elect of the Nominating Committee, which will be chaired by Gerard M. Crawley of Michigan State University in 1997. The Nominating Committee selects the slate of candidates for vice-president, general councillors, and its own chair-elect. Its choices are then voted on by the APS membership. S. James Gates (University of Maryland), Paul S. Peercy (SEMI/SEMATECH), Virginia Trimble (University of California, Irvine/University of Maryland), and Sau Lan Wu (University of Wisconsin, Madison) were elected general councillors.


Friedman received his Ph.D. in experimental particle physics from the University in Chicago in 1956. After a year as a research associate there, he accepted a three-year appointment at Stanford University. In 1960, he joined the MIT faculty as an assistant professor, where he has served as director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science and as head of the physics department.

Friedman's research has included studies of particle structure and interactions with high-energy electrons, neutrinos and hadrons. Recipient of the Society's W.H.K. Panofsky Prize in 1989, he shared the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics with Henry Kendall and Richard Taylor for work demonstrating the existence of the quark. His professional activities include service as vice-chair of the Board of the University Research Association, and on the National Research Council's Board on Physics and Astronomy, as well as the APS Physics Planning Committee.

In his candidate's statement, Friedman stressed the need for better scientific communication, both within the physics community and with the public at large. "The APS must do more to ensure the health of physics at a time when science in general is facing serious challenges," he said. "Today the pursuit of scientific knowledge is increasingly viewed as a luxury the nation cannot afford in a period of budget deficits and major social problems. There are a growing number of people in government who... reject the implicit assumption that the pursuit of scientific knowledge has social as well as intellectual value, and [they] want guaranteed, short-term benefits as the justification for their support of science."

He also cited the need to develop mechanisms to enlist the support of the industrial community, since national productivity depends in part on a scientific enterprise capable of creating foundations for new technologies. Scientifically-trained employees are also critical, and hence so is quality science education, especially at the elementary and secondary levels. However, the U.S. educational system has failed to provide many young people with the scientific literacy required to succeed in a technological society. Nor can an uninformed public effectively participate in political decisions related to science and technology.

Friedman believes that the APS' elected officers and members can play a powerful role in informing members of government and the general public of the intellectual and practical benefits of science. In addition, because of the diverse range of subfields represented, the Society can help unify the various disciplines to enable the physics community to speak with one voice. He suggested sponsoring workshops in various disciplines for Congressional members and their staffs and improved contacts with science journalists as possible vehicles for improving public awareness of scientific issues. "In the long run, science can prosper only if the public truly supports it," he said.

Chair-Elect, Nominating Committee

Haxton received his Ph.D. in physics from Stanford University in 1976. He spent a year as a research associate at the Universitt Mainz before moving to the Theory Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was also an assistant professor at Purdue University from 1980-1981. Since 1984 he has been on the faculty of the University of Washington, where he is now a professor of physics and director of the Institute for Nuclear Theory. His research interests include atomic and nuclear tests of symmetry principles and conservation laws, nuclear astrophysics issues, and many-body techniques in nuclear, atomic and condensed matter physics. Haxton has served as chair of the APS Division of Nuclear Physics and will chair the Division of Astrophysics in 1996. He is also a former general councillor and editor of Physics Letters B.

In his candidate's statement, Haxton expressed continued optimism about the public's capacity to appreciate and support physics, solely for the excitement and discovery of new knowledge, despite the difficult budgetary climate in the U.S. As chair of the Nominating Committee, he said he will seek out individuals who share his optimism and can articulate this excitement, whether before Congress or high school students, and who can offset the tendency of the physics community to turn inwards during times of stress. "I think the Society would be stronger if we were less parochial," he said.

General Councillors

Gates received his Ph.D. in physics from MIT in 1977, and spent the next three years doing postgraduate research as a junior fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows. He spent two years on the faculty of MIT's mathematics department before joining the physics department of the University of Maryland at College Park. His research centers on investigations of the mathematical properties and realizations of supersymmetry in quantum and classical theories of particles, fields and strings, and co-authored Superspace, the first advanced comprehensive book on supersymmetry. Gates was the first director of the NASA-supported Center for the Study of Terrestrial and Extra-Terrestrial Atmospheres, and was the recipient of the first APS Edward Bouchet Award.

In his candidate's statement, Gates cited the history of the physics community and its response in times of crisis, concluding, "We have always responded to adverse conditions with the same attention to observation of our surroundings, comprehension of the underlying cause-and-effect relations and actions based on a logical and rational assessment of these as we apply to the advancement of our field." As an APS councillor, he intends to draw upon his extensive personal and professional experiences to provide rational advice, opinions and suggestions for meeting the challenges of the present crises.

Peercy received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1966, and spent the next two years as a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories. In 1968 he joined Sandia National Laboratories, performing research in such solid state physics areas as plasma in solids, inelastic light scatting in solids, phase transformations and ferroelectricity, and semiconductor physics. Most recently he served as Sandia's director of microelectronics and photonics, with responsibility for its silicon, compound semiconductor, sensor and packaging R&D activities. In August 1995 he left Sandia to assume the presidency of SEMI/SemaTech, a consortium of more than 200 companies that provides the U.S. equipment and materials supplier base for the semiconductor device manufacturing industry.

In his candidate's statement, Peercy focused on the major changes occurring in U.S. physics research and development, particularly the end of the Cold War, the resulting loss of national consensus for research funding, increased international competitiveness, and corporate downsizing and the resulting decreased support for central research laboratories. "It is critical that we ensure a strong research university system that continues to provide the new knowledge and new scientists needed for the future," he said, calling for increased awareness of structural changes in industry within the academic community, as well as educating industry about the value of supporting a strong university system.

Trimble received her Ph.D. in astronomy and physics from California Institute of Technology in 1968, and presently divides her time between the physics department of the University of California, Irvine and the astronomy department of the University of Maryland. Her early research focused on advanced stages of star evolution, including white dwarfs, supernovae and pulsars. More recently she has investigated the statistical distributions of properties of binary stars and numerous topics in the history and sociology of physics and astronomy. She has served as secretary-treasurer of the APS Division of Astrophysics, and on the APS Committee on Meetings.

As a self-described "hyphenated physicist," Trimble believes that including additional subdisciplines as part of the Society's core - such as biophysics, engineering physics, geophysics, and medical physics - will further strengthen the APS and physics as a whole. She also called for greater diversity of generation as well as discipline in her candidate's statement, and for maintaining communication with those with undergraduate degrees in physics. In addition to providing support for young scientists, "We also need to think about ways that physics and the APS can maintain support and opportunities for young scientists, and make the best use of the wisdom and skills of more senior scientists," she said.

Wu received her Ph.D. in high energy physics from Harvard University in 1970 and did her postdoctoral study at MIT. She participated in the 1974 discovery of the charm quark at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where she had previously spent a summer as an undergraduate student. She has been a faculty member in the physics department at the University of Wisconsin at Madison since 1977. A co-recipient of the European Physical Society's 1995 High Energy and Particle Physics Prize for the first direct observation of the gluon, Wu is also a member of the DOE's High Energy Physics Advisory Panel.

In her candidate's statement, Wu identified her primary objective as improving international cooperation in physics. "The interests of overseas American physicists at international research centers are under-represented in APS activities," she said. She feels that her upbringing in Hong Kong, as well as stints at DESY and CERN, will allow her to bring such an international perspective to the APS Council.

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin