APS News

APS Launches Webinar Series

By Gabriel Popkin

Recent Physics Webinars

Physics Careers Webinars
Career guidance and advice from fellow physicists

Long renowned for its real-world conferences, APS recently took a new step into the world of virtual meetings by launching a webinar series. A webinar is an interactive seminar conducted over the Internet, with audience members participating by computer or phone.

In a typical webinar, the leader delivers a talk accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation that participants can view on their computer screens. The talk is streamed over the Internet, and attendees can also listen by phone. At any time during or following the talk, participants can type in questions. After the talk is over, a moderator poses the questions to the presenter, who can then answer them for the entire audience.

APS held its first webinar in October for faculty who were interested in applying for funding from the Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC), a project led by APS and the American Association of Physics Teachers. The webinar was led by Theodore Hodapp, APS Director of Education and Diversity and PhysTEC project director, who provided information on how to create a successful proposal. By publicizing the event to members of the Coalition and others in the physics education community, the project attracted an audience of 94 people.

Also in October, APS held a webinar entitled “Career Alternative for Physicists: Patent Law,” led by Hay Yeung Cheung, a patent attorney who has a PhD in physics. This event was publicized through the Society of Physics Students and APS Forum on Graduate Student Affairs, and attracted around 50 participants.

“The biggest advantages of the webinar format are convenience and cost,” says Crystal Bailey, Education and Careers Program Manager at APS, who manages the APS webinar series. “Many people who cannot afford the time or money to travel to a meeting can get valuable information by spending an hour participating in a webinar. We’re particularly looking at webinars as a means to reach students, teachers, and industrial members–groups that rarely have the time and funding for travel.”

Audience members from both sessions reported very high levels of satisfaction with the presentations and format. One participant from the patent law webinar wrote, “As a postdoc, I love to see webinars from people with PhDs who transition out of academia but still make their PhD count for something.”

“Another big plus for this format is the interactivity,” says Bailey “Webinars allow participants from around the country or even the world to ask questions of the speaker and get them answered in nearly real time.”

APS webinars were inspired by the American Chemical Society, which produces one webinar every week on a variety of career and professional development topics. Looking forward, APS plans to run webinars at least once a month, and possibly more if demand warrants. Future presentations will address issues of concern to students, such as finding a summer research experience and learning about physics careers, as well as professional development for faculty on topics such as work-life balance and salary negotiation strategies.

For more information on APS Physics Career webinars, including archived versions of previous presentations, see www.aps.org/careers/guidance/webinars

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Editor: Alan Chodos