APS News

Moving Forward

Last spring, after more than a year of work on the part of leadership, volunteers, and staff, APS unveiled its new five-year strategic plan. This column, which will appear in APS News at frequent intervals, is intended to update members on progress in implementing the plan. The first installment, below, deals with the early activities of two new task forces.
Gray arrow  APS Strategic Plan

Development Task Force Holds First Meeting

A key area of concentration in the strategic plan is to “undertake efforts to build a comprehensive Development strategy” so as to help assure the future financial stability of APS. In pursuing this objective, a Development Task Force has been formed to provide recommendations to the APS Board on optimal Development Office operations and future fund-raising opportunities. Current APS vice-President Malcolm Beasley chairs this Task Force and has recruited a galaxy of academic, industrial and science administration leaders who have experience in successful fundraising. Task Force members include: Robert Birgeneau, Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley; James Bray, GE Global Research; Cherry Murray, Dean, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University; and Ray Orbach, Director, Energy Institute, University of Texas, Austin. Also Gary Bjorklund, a physicist and investor formerly at Bell Labs and IBM Research Labs, has agreed to serve as a consultant to the Task Force.


In the past, APS has been grateful for generous support from government agencies and labs, corporations, foundations and individual members of the Society. But as noted by Beasley, “The climate and approaches to development are changing rapidly, and I am pleased to have such a strong group of APS members to help us consider these issues.” The Task Force will be exploring current trends and specific issues relevant to APS Development. These include the political funding environment, diminished number of corporate research labs, decreased top physics leadership in large corporations, proliferation of smaller-scale entrepreneurial companies, expectations of younger hands-on donors, the use of social media in the fund raising environment, opportunities as a result of the nation’s focus on STEM initiatives, and operational needs in launching the next major campaign for APS.  

The Task Force held its first meeting in Chicago on August 29, 2012. Extended discussion took place on the issues mentioned above and further informational needs and action items were identified. Several additional meetings will take place before the Development Task Force provides its recommendations to the APS Board in the spring of 2013. Once these recommendations are established, they will be available to the membership at large on the APS website. For more information, contact Darlene Logan at 301- 209-3224 or logan@aps.org.  

Early-Career Task Force Gears Up

APS has also established a Task Force on Early-Career Physicists, focusing on physicists in graduate school, postdoctoral appointments and first professional jobs.

At its first meeting on October 15, 2012, the Task Force focused on addressing the needs of an increasingly diverse membership of physicists working in careers beyond conventional academic research. “We want to extend what it means to be a physicist such that APS is inclusive of physicists across the disciplines,” explained Task Force chairman Brad Conrad of Appalachian State University. “APS can be a resource for physicists throughout their careers, whether they are working as engineers, as researchers, or as financial analysts.” The Task Force discussed ways of engaging this diverse body of early career physicists through stronger networking opportunities at the local, regional, and national levels, developing new mentoring programs, and new volunteer opportunities for APS members to start conversations about possible career paths.

This objective in the Strategic Plan is to help early-career physicists take their place in the physics enterprise, and to facilitate stronger connections of this group to the APS physics community.

In addition to Conrad, the other Task Force members are: 

  • Greg Meisner, GM Global Research
  • Amber Stuver, LIGO, Louisiana State University
  • Tom Baer, Stanford University
  • Megan Comins, Cornell University
  • Meghan Anzelc, CNA, Commercial Insurance
  • Cynthia Aku-Leh, Iscience
  • Jesus Pando, DePaul University
  • Heather Galloway, Texas State University

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Editor: Alan Chodos