APS News

APS Goes Global with Two International Conferences

The APS is continuing its tradition of fostering international exchanges between physicists by helping to put together two upcoming conferences this spring. The first International Conference on Women in Physics (IUPAP) is sponsored by the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP), and will be held March 7-9 at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, France. It is intended to explore the severe under representation of women in physics in Europe and elsewhere in the world and to develop strategies and actions to increase their participation. And an International Conference on Medical Physics (ICMP) will be held April 8-10 in Havana, Cuba, one of several workshops and symposia organized as part of the Cuban Physical Society's ninth annual symposium.

The IUPAP conference will bring together physicists - mostly, but not exclusively, women - to review data on women in physics, discuss barriers, share success stories, suggest ways to improve participation globally, and help develop appropriate strategies to improve the status of women in physics in their home countries. Teams of at least three people from each of 65 countries will be participating, with a total of about 300 attendees expected. It is hoped that the conference will help establish a robust international support network that will help boost the systemic change needed and reduce the sense of isolation often felt by individual women physicists.

"We expect the conference to increase the awareness of the need for more women in physics, to improve the understanding of the problem through a comparative analysis of the causes, and to identify possible corrective measures that will be effective in different regions of the world," says Judy Franz, APS Executive Officer and Associate Secretary-General of IUPAP. "Existing and future local initiatives will gain strength from the support of a favorable international climate as well as national and international networking."

According to APS Director of International Scientific Affairs Irving Lerch, the ICMP conference is the latest in a series of APS efforts to expand interaction with the physics community in Cuba, despite strict US embargos on travel to the country. [The Society has hosted representatives of the Cuban Physical Society at past meetings,] Contrary to what some may believe, Cuba has a thriving scientific community, with about 200 PhD physicists, many working in university research environments. Medical physics was chosen as the conference topic in orderto work around US embargo policies, and a second similar conference on physics education is planned for 2003.

The ICMP conference's technical program will feature sessions on nuclear medicine as well as therapy. The latter will cover such topics as new developments in radiation oncology, advances in applied radiology, and advances in applied radiobiology. In addition, there will be four sessions on special focus topics, including teaching and education of medical physicists, radiological protection of patients, laser physics and biomedical physics, and future directions of medical physics.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette