APS Views: 1997 Annual Report Highlights
1997 was an exciting year for physics and for the American Physical Society. Major progress was reported in many fields of physics and several key results, including the development of an atom laser, quantum teleportation, the understanding of gamma ray bursters, and the creation of matter from real photons, were highlighted in the major media. By the end of the year APS could announce that all of its journals were available online and use of electronic journals was increasing rapidly. In Ridge, the center for APS research publications, the staff rejoiced as ground was finally broken for the major building expansion that will end the very cramped conditions that have existed for a long time. Dr. Martin Blume and Dr. Thomas McIlrath joined the senior staff of the Society as Editor-in-Chief, and as Treasurer and Publisher respectively.
During 1997 the political climate for scientific research changed dramatically in the US. Although the year had begun with bleak prospects for research funding, it ended with strong bipartisan support for major increases. APS is proud to have played an important role in making this happen. At the beginning of the year, APS joined with several other scientific societies to formulate a joint strategy for interaction with both the Congress and the Administration. As the year progressed this group of societies working together grew rapidly to 50 and later expanded to well over 100. The large number of voters (~ 10 million) represented by these cooperating societies captured the attention of both Congress and the Administration, and the year ended with strong indications for greatly increased federal investment in science and technology.
During 1997 APS hosted two international meetings. The first was a meeting in which the Canadian Association of Physicists and the Mexican Physical Society joined APS for its April Meeting in Washington, DC. It was the third in a series of meetings that have previously been held in Mexico and then in Canada. The second international meeting was a planning one involving major and regional physical societies from around the world with the purpose of exploring common concerns. Meetings designed to inform and involve the Fellows of the Society were held in several cities across the nation. As the year progressed, plans for the APS Centennial in 1999 took on more urgency. Several staff were added and major projects got underway. The Centennial Wall Chart neared completion; over 200 outstanding physics lecturers agreed to be APS Centennial Speakers for the academic year 1998-99; and plans for a major Nobel exhibit took shape. The year ended with much optimism as the employment situation for physicists showed definite signs of improvement and the official membership count showed that APS membership had increased by several percent.
Highlights of APS Operations
- All of the APS research journals are now available online, free upon registration to members and institutions subscribing to the print versions of the journals. Special member subscriptions to the online versions of all journals cost just $25 and for the first time in years the number of member subscriptions rose.
- Ground was broken for the much-needed expansion of the APS Editorial Office in Ridge, NY.
- Physical Review D-online changed to an article-by-article, electronic-publication first mode in November 1997. At that time articles to be printed in the January 1998 issue were already published online.
- The first purely electronic APS journal, Physical Review Special Topics - Accelerators and Beams, started receiving submissions in March 1998. Robert Seimann will serve as its editor and it has an international editorial board. Physical Review Focus, an electronic service highlighting selected articles in PRL was also initiated.
- A significant component of the APS online offerings is the free and easily accessible availability of tables of contents, titles, authors, affiliations and abstracts. Searching, linking from references, and full text of articles are features available only to subscribers.
- Advance listings of papers accepted for publication in PR and PRL were enhanced by the addition of abstracts (for papers submitted electronically). An online index to PR and PRL, building gradually during the year as issues are published, and containing links to the articles in the online journals, was added.
- International submissions continued to grow and constituted 72% of all submissions, with western Europe amounting to 34% of all submissions.
- The 1997 March Meeting, held in Kansas City, was attended by 4,400 physicists from throughout the world. Sixteen APS units participated, contributing to the 450 paper and poster sessions presented.
- The 1997 Joint APS/AAPT Meeting/CAM97 was held in Washington, DC and was co-sponsored by the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP) and the Sociedad Mexicana de Fisica (SMF). More than 1,866 physicists attended sessions planned by eighteen APS units. A reception in honor of CAP and SMF and commemorating the hundredth anniversary of the electron was held at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
- The APS Meetings Department continued to assist in the management of the annual meeting of the Division of Plasma Physics, and the annual meeting of the Division of Fluid Dynamics.
- Ninety-nine percent of invited and contributed abstracts for APS meetings are now submitted electronically. The APS continues to work toward a more efficient and user-friendly electronic abstract submission system.
- A new registration software module in support of APS-managed meetings was implemented to operate in conjunction with the membership database.
- In 1997, the APS switched to an anniversary billing schedule that allows new members to join and lapsed members to renew at any time during the year.
- The final FY98 APS member count was 40,767, up by 885 from the previous year. The 1996 Membership Survey showed that seventy-nine percent of the members rate Physics Today as the highest membership benefit. Because of the importance of Physics Today, an AIP publication, to APS members, a task force was appointed, with Burton Richter as chair, to consider whether Physics Today serves APS members in an optimal way and, if not, to suggest ways in which it might be improved.
- A new benefit to APS Life members was approved by the APS Council. Effective July 1, 1998, all Life Members will have the option of: 1) free life membership in one dues-requiring unit; and 2) additional life memberships in such units at a one-time payment of 15 times the unit dues rate in effect at time of payment.
- A new unit, the Four Corners Section, was formed to serve APS members located in the Southwestern United States. The formation of an additional section for members living in the Northwest is in process.
- APS News continues to be the primary means of informing the membership of activities within the APS as well as bringing to their attention general issues affecting physics, such as career issues and government affairs.
- An Educational Outreach insert, describing the extensive efforts by the APS was published in APS News in January 1998.
- The online version of APS News is enhanced over the paper version; it frequently contains longer versions than printed and is hyper-linked to auxiliary material.
- In 1997 the Society initiated a series of meetings in New York, Washington, and San Francisco to which Fellows of the Society were invited to meet with senior officers and staff. These meetings invite greater participation of the Fellows in APS activities.
Career and Professional Development:
- A task force on career and professional development advised the APS to charge a standing committee with a career and professional development mission.
- Steps were taken in 1997 to redirect the Committee on Applications in Physics to become the APS Committee on Career and Professional Development. The bylaw change should occur in early 1998.
- An electronic survey of APS Junior Members was conducted in late 1997 to assess the perceptions of the job market by young physicists just embarking on their careers. (See APS News, February 1998)
Prizes and Awards:
- The James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials was endowed to recognize outstanding materials researchers.
- The Francis Pipkin Award was established to recognize achievements in precision measurements and fundamental constants.
- The Nicholas Metropolis Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Work in Computational Physics was established.
- A Task Force on APS Prizes and Awards was charged with providing the guidance on a number of award issues.
- The APS web site was enhanced significantly. Members are now able to check the processing status of their membership renewal via the web.
- Online Meetings Programs were enhanced to allow authors to view their abstract in "published" format. The APS web site now has a search capability.
- Electronic balloting procedures were tried by several APS Units.
- In October, 1997, APS hosted an international consultative meeting of physical societies from around the world in Washington, DC to discuss common interests in electronic publishing, science policy and funding, physics education and public education, and capacity building in developing countries.
- An advanced networking workshop was organized at the University of Accra at Legon in Ghana in collaboration with UNESCO, UNDP, the ITU and numerous other organizations.
- Ongoing international activities include the library outreach program, with emphasis on the former Soviet Union and China, and support for the US Liaison Committee to host the IUPAP General Assembly in 1999, one week before the Centennial celebrations in Atlanta.
- APS participated in a State Department meeting to explore ways of promoting freedom of travel for scientists.
- Plans were made to expand the matching membership program for colleagues in hard-currency-poor countries.
- Plans were begun with several Latin American countries to develop exchange programs for physicists.
Legislative initiatives undertaken by the Office of Public Affairs involve the grassroots network, PGNet, and direct lobbying on Capitol Hill by APS leaders, members and staff. During 1997, the APS pursued two major activities in the legislative arena: (1) Federal investment in science and technology, and (2) The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
- "The 7 Percent Solution" initiative to increase federal research investments by 7 percent in the FY 1998 budget, ultimately attracted the support of the leaders of 46 professional societies, who endorsed a "Joint Statement on Research" on behalf of more than one-million scientists, engineers and mathematicians.
- A coalition of professional societies developed a "Unified Statement on Research," calling for doubling the science and engineering research budgets over the next decade with 110 professional society leaders endorsements. As a result of this effort by the APS and the other Societies, bipartisan legislation, "The National Research Investment Act of 1998," that authorizes doubling of investment in civilian research during the next ten years was submitted. By the end of 1997, the Administration indicated that it would pursue this course and commissioned a report to replace the 1945 Vannevar Bush report, Science: The Endless Frontier, as a new vision for US science and technology in the 21st century.
- The Council issued a statement supporting CTBT, and the APS developed strategies to encourage Senate ratification of the treaty.
- Through the APS News column "Inside the Beltway" and timely electronic alerts, the Office of Public Affairs kept APS members informed about significant science policy issues on the federal agenda.
- The PGNet, the APS grass roots government alert network exceeded its goal of 2.5% of APS membership.
PUBLIC INFORMATION ACTIVITIES
The APS Office of Public Affairs responded to numerous inquiries from the media and from the public.
- Bob Park appeared on radio and television 42 times, which included live appearances on Crossfire and The Lehrer News Hour, and contributed to magazine articles, op-eds and speeches on science policy issues. Selected items were reprinted in The Amateur Scientist, The Science Writer (publication of the National Association of Science Writers) and The Skeptical Inquirer.
- APS continues to administer the Congressional Fellowship Program.
- In 1997, APS initiated sponsorship of two Mass Media Fellowships in conjunction with the AAAS.
- Preparations are in full swing for the APS Centennial Celebration March 20-26, 1999, in Atlanta, Georgia.
- The APS Centennial provides the opportunity to celebrate the many great discoveries in physics of the last one hundred years and highlight work that points toward the next century.
- A series of special plenary sessions will include talks by world-renowned physicists.
- APS Divisions, Topical Groups and Forums will develop special Centennial Symposia.
- Additional Centennial Celebration projects include: A Century of Physics time-line wall-chart and website; a pictorial history of 20th Century physics in the form of a Coffee Table Book; a collection of ~200 APS Centennial Speakers for university and college colloquia in the academic year 1998-99 and a Photo Collection of Physicists on a CD-ROM.
- The Centennial Celebration presents an opportunity to make the general public more aware of the accomplishments of physics research and the benefits it brings to society. To do this, the APS engaged a firm, Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, to help develop an effective communications strategy.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
- Over the past few years the APS has played an increasingly important role in improving science education, especially in elementary grades. See Education Outreach, special insert to APS News, January 1998.
- The largest APS program is the Teacher-Scientist Alliance Institute (TSAI), funded by the Campaign for Physics, that involves scientists bringing hands-on science teaching into elementary science classrooms. Many of school districts are implementing hands-on science programs and they credit the TSAI-sponsored Leadership Institutes. TSAI has active partnerships with communities in 22 states.
- The APS Corporate Sponsored Scholarships for Minority Undergraduate Students who Major in Physics, supports outstanding minority students who have committed themselves to the study of physics. In the academic year 1997-1998, 15 students out of 79 applicants received scholarships and 11 student applied for, and were granted renewals.
- The Committee on Minorities (COM) Site Visit Program involves a COM team visit to a physics department at the invitation of the chair. The team then prepares a confidential report on the climate for minorities.
- The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) sponsors invited sessions, receptions (joint with COM) and a breakfast at APS general and divisional meetings.
- The Travel Grants for Women Speakers program provided grants of $500 to 42 institutions that hosted women colloquium speakers in 1997. The CSWP also conducts a site visit program, which evaluates the environment for women students and faculty at physics departments.
- The Women in Physics (WIPHYS) listserver continued to foster lively discussions among its 750+ members.
- Teachers' Days were conducted with the cooperation and participation of APS' Units at the April meeting in Washington, DC; the DNP meeting in Canada, in October and the Plasma Physics meeting in Pittsburgh, in November of 1997.
- The Campaign for Physics, a $5 million capital campaign conducted jointly with the American Association of Physics Teachers, to launch or expand five key science education programs was successfully concluded. The Campaign attracted the support of industry, thirty-nine Nobel laureates, and many individuals.
- In addition to the Campaign, the Society's development efforts to date have included seeking annual contributions from members.
- Development Office activities in 1998 will focus on seeking support for key events and programs associated with the 1999 APS Centennial to educate and raise public awareness about the many contributions physics makes to our society.
- At the end of fiscal year 1997, the total assets of the American Physical Society had grown to a record $71.3M, up from $59.5M a year before. Of this amount $17M were balanced by liabilities; the remainder, $54.2M are the Net Assets of the Society.
- The Net Assets include: (temporarily) restricted assets - the monies intended for prizes and awards and for the programs of the Campaign for Physics and; unrestricted assets - funds that may be used for the other operations of the Society. This latter quantity is our Reserve Fund. The Reserve Fund is now 1.5 times the annual expenses. The growth in Net Assets is partially due to a $1.63M surplus in the operating budget and the remainder is due to very favorable performance of our investment portfolio.
- In the coming years the Society faces major demands on its resources, including a desperately needed doubling of the size of the publishing facility at Ridge, N.Y.(construction was begun in January, 1998), and substantial expenditures on activities surrounding the Centennial celebration of the APS in 1999. In addition, we must anticipate a moderation of the extraordinary returns on investment funds.
- The Society is making a vigorous effort, in the light of a very real financial crisis in the academic library community, to keep journal price increases at a minimum and to avoid increasing member dues. Our strong financial position gives us confidence that we can simultaneously accomplish all these ambitious goals, but it will require continued discipline and efficiency in all the operations of the Society. Our excellent performance in the past has reflected the dedication and commitment of the excellent staff of the Society and we are confident that this will continue in the future.
The complete 1997 APS Annual Report can be accessed by requesting a copy from: Executive Officer, The American Physical Society, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740.