At its November meeting, the APS Council voted to approve a proposed amendment to the APS Bylaws that would change the name of the Committee on Applications of Physics (CAP) to that of the Committee on Careers and Professional Development (CCPD), and revise its charge. The change was suggested by the APS Committee on Committees, and approved by the Committee on Constitution & Bylaws before being submitted to Council. The rationale behind the change is that, with the initiation of the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP), much of the work that CAP used to do - such as organizing sessions at meetings - was taken on by FIAP. It was also felt that the APS needs an advisory body and a clearing house for its career activities. The recent Task Force on Careers and Professional Development recommended that an APS committee be charged with these responsibilities. The revised charge in the APS Bylaws will read as follows:
"The membership of the Committee on Careers and Professional Development shall consist of nine members appointed by the President to staggered three-year terms. The President shall appoint the Chairperson from among the members. The Committee shall be responsible for coordinating affairs within the Society concerned with career and professional development in physics and advising the Society on courses of action. The Committee shall also facilitate the participation of physicists from all career paths in the Society and its functions and publications." Comments from the membership on the proposed revision should be submitted to Amy Halsted at APS headquarters by March 31st. APS Council will take the required second vote for a Bylaw change in April.
Doubling Non-Defense R&D
On December 4, 1997, two Republican and two Democratic senators wrote to President Clinton urging him to use the FY 1999 budget to establish a bipartisan national consensus on doubling non-defense federal R&D over the next ten years. Clinton sends his FY 1999 budget request to Congress this month. At the Office of Management and Budget, officials are confronting some tough numbers. Under the balanced budget agreement, total discretionary spending can increase by only 1%, or about $5 billion, over this year. As expected, there are many conflicting recommendations on what the nation's priorities should be in FY 1999. The letter from Senators Phil Gramm (R-Texas), Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut), Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), and Jeff Bingaman (D-New Mexico), all cosponsors of S. 1305 (see APS News, January 1998), urges Clinton to "take the lead on this important issue and include significant increases in R&D investment" in the FY 1999 budget request, especially for the 12 federal agencies specified in the bill. The letter coincided with an electronic alert to APS members by APS Past President D. Allan Bromley (Yale University) to add their support by writing to Clinton as well.
Task Force on APS Prizes and Awards
The APS Executive Board has appointed a new Task Force on APS Prizes and Awards, chaired by Mildred Dresselhaus (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), with a primary charge to consider the full range, breadth, and number of APS prizes and awards to see if they are appropriate and if all areas of the physics community are covered in an equitable manner. In particular, the Board is interested in advice on under what conditions the APS should accept funding for additional prizes and awards if offered, and whether some of the criteria for existing prizes and awards should be broadened to encourage more nominations. Additional topics include whether there should be a minimum monetary amount for the major APS prizes and whether the APS should change the current policy on multiple recipients for a prize or award. A preliminary report will be presented at the Executive Board's February 21 meeting. The other members of the task force are Ronald C. Davidson, Princeton Univesity; Katharine B. Gebbie, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Wick C. Haxton, University of Washington; Rolf W. Landauer, IBM T J Watson Research Center; John M. Rowell, John Rowell Inc; and Frank J. Sciulli, Columbia University.
National Medal and Presidential Early Career Winners
Recipients of this year's National Medal of Science, announced in December by President Clinton, included three Fellows of the American Physical Society: Darlene Hoffman, a professor of chemistry at Berkeley, for her work on trans-uranium elements; Harold Johnston, emeritus chemistry professor at Berkeley, for contributions to atmospheric chemistry; and Marshall Rosenbluth, a plasma theorist at UCSD, for fusion research. The medal was awarded posthumously to Martin Schwarzchild of Princeton for fathering stellar evolution.
Last November, President Clinton presented 60 young researchers with the second annual Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). APS member David S. Citrin, a professor in the Department of Physics at Washington State University, was among those honored for developing a comprehensive theory of exciton-polaritons in semiconductor nanostructures. Those selected receive up to $500,000 over a five-year period to further their research and advance science for government missions.
New Funding Initiatives
President Clinton announced two new research and development partnerships that will leverage roughly $200 million in government and industry funds. Federal government funding is $96 million, already appropriated for the current fiscal year, with the remainder coming from industry. First, the Defense Department and the semiconductor industry will fund long-term R&D at leading universities intended to eventually allow US companies to manufacture a supercomputer on a chip. This initiative is being funded by the Defense Department's $14 million Government-Industry Co-sponsored University Research program. Second, the Commerce Department's Advanced Technology Program (ATP) will provide $82 million in cost-shared funds for eight new competitions to support R&D with broad-based benefits to the US economy. More than half of all ATP grants have gone to small companies or joint ventures led by small companies.