Letter from the Chair

Dear Fellow APS Member,

The Far West Section (FWS) of the American Physical Society aims at bringing together physicists active in academia, industry and research institutions. We welcome all who have a background in, or a link to physics and wish to share their experience and knowledge, or simply wish to stay in touch with colleagues and the advances in the field. Most of our members live in California, Hawaii or Nevada, but the section is open to all who are APS members. Though all can be member of the FWS for free(!), not all are members. If you are an APS member and read these lines you should also be a section member. If not yet, just send a short email to membership@aps.org to express your interest in joining the Far West Section, or go online using your APS membership credentials (click on “Membership”). Please do so now, and read the rest of the letter after…

Note that your membership strengthens the Far West Section in an utterly crucial way. The APS provides funds to the section proportional to its membership level. Thus, even though there is no cost for you to join the Far West Section, your membership enables the activities of the section. One of them is new: the Physics Day What Physicists Do. You will find a report in this year’s Newsletter on the first physics day held at SLAC in July. The section intends to expand that idea to other regions, Hawaii and Nevada in particular. Indeed, this is a good way to have the community organize events for all its members, including those who cannot readily travel to our annual meeting (this year at UC Merced).

Physics has undergone many changes in recent years and those in our Far West Section region have played a major role in shaping the physics landscape. Not only have we advanced knowledge in key areas of fundamental research, teaching and industry, but some of our members have also contributed in important ways to the APS itself. There are thus many reasons to be part of this section and many opportunities for you to participate.

It is important that physicists speak out in a time where some attempt at giving equal consideration to serious scientific endeavor, “opinion” and even plain false statements in the fog of information. It is also important for physicists to change their mentality. Do not expect that all will obviously recognize the value and merits of our field; demonstrate it! Do not think that physicists working in industry are valued less; they make up the largest segment of the physicists’ population and are valued members of our organization. Do not believe that physics should remain the way it was when you were a student; one of the main characteristics of physics is its continued transformation through new knowledge and understanding of the physical world. Do not think that we are the best by definition and don’t need others; the APS is known for the great advances that immigrant physicists have made and should be known as an example of inclusiveness — We welcome all who have a passion for physics. We also should continue striving at extending our expertise to other fields while continue developing Physics as a major field of science.

To nurture these features of our society, we invite you to join one of the main activities of the APS Far West Section: our annual meeting, generally occurring end of October, this year on November 2-4, 2017. The diversity of our commitment is shown in the locations of our meetings. This year’s conference will take place at UC Merced, while most recent meetings took place at UC Davis, Univ. of Nevada, Reno, and Cal State Long Beach. This year’s location is reason itself to participate; you will discover the youngest of the University of California campuses and meet the members of the physics department that will host us.

We highly recommend young scientists, more seasoned ones, those who made the headlines and those who contribute in shaping our economy through their presence in industry to join and present their latest research and achievements. The overall scientific level of our meetings steadily increases. We particularly encourage you, undergraduate and graduate students, to attend what may be your first professional scientific meeting. Our encouragement is not only in words; we provide shared lodging and some registration and travel support for student presenters. The meeting is also an opportunity to learn from and talk with established physicists, hear a distinguished banquet speaker and potentially win an award for best presentation by undergraduates, graduates and postdocs. See “awards” on the left navigation bar for past prizes.

For those of you who want to be even more active in the Section, we offer many ways to do so. If you are interested in serving as one of the officers of the Section, or wish to nominate someone else, please contact me or Vice-Chair Patricia Sparks (Harvey Mudd). Very importantly, vote during our elections!

If you wish to make suggestions for invited speakers for future meetings, contact one of the chair line members who will forward your suggestion to the Program Committee. Contact us also, if you wish to host one of the Section's meetings at your institution.

Thank you to all who are members of the section. Please do not hesitate to write to me or an executive committee member if you have suggestions on the activities of the section.

Best wishes from the Far West Section!

Andreas Bill
Department of Physics & Astronomy
California State University Long Beach
Long Beach, CA 90840-9505