Report of DPF New Initiatives Panel

April 21, 2002


Early in 2001, DPF Executive Committee chair Chris Quigg appointed a committee consisting of Vernon Barger, Bill Carithers (chair), Janet Conrad, and Glennys Farrar, and charged the committee to examine possible new initiatives that the DPF should consider to better serve the community. The committee began a series of meetings first considering a wide range of possibilities and then narrowing the list to a few proposals.

We sought a balance between projects that were ambitious enough to effect real change but not so ambitious as to have a slim chance for success. As part of our research, we looked at programs in other Divisions, such as Nuclear Physics, Particle Beams, and Plasma Physics. We also sought advice from colleagues and would particularly like to recognize Marv Goldberg at NSF for helpful discussions.

Relatively early in the process, we identified the need for additional effort to inform the public and the government of the excitement and importance of our field as a top priority. We also felt that the issues of young people in our field deserved attention. To address these priorities, we felt that standing subcommittees were required to provide continuity and visibility to the projects. The remainder of this report describes our recommended proposals. The proposals include many details which indicate the scale of the effort we had in mind and might offer suggestions to the new subcommittees once formed. Of course, these subcommittees must compose their own agenda and priorities for implementation.

Composition of the DPF Subcommittees

DPF Subcommittees will consist of two members of the Executive Committee to be appointed by the DPF chair, plus other at-large DPF members with particular enthusiasm and/or expertise in the domain of the Subcommittee charge. The nominal term for a member-at-large will be three years but reappointment is possible.

The committee felt that it was important to extend the new Subcommittee membership beyond the Executive Committee in order to share the work load, improve continuity, and tap into the particular talents in our field.

These subcommittees will collaborate with DOE, NSF, and the APS to coordinate outreach activities relevant to particle physics within and among these agencies. A webpage will be provided which will describe ongoing major programs within these agencies. The webpage will provide useful advice for development of new outreach activities, including methods for advertising to the intended audiences and evaluating the effectiveness of the programs.

Recommedation 1: The committee recommends the formation of a standing Education and Outreach Subcommittee (EOS).

The EOS might consider the following functions for possible implementation in a phased approach:

Particle Physics Lectures

The EOS will administer a series of public Particle Physics Lectures. The goal is to sponsor from 10-20 public lectures annually at U.S. colleges, universities, laboratories, museums, and other forums to highlight exciting research discoveries in experimental and theoretical particle physics. A special premium would be placed on lectures at universities with significant minority representation. The DPF Executive Committee will confer the title Distinguished DPF Lecturer on approximately five speakers annually, chosen from a list of nominees compiled by the EOS. Only the best communicators will be chosen and an attempt will be made to have a widespread geographic distribution of speakers. The list of speakers and their lecture titles and abstracts will be maintained on the DPF webpage. The subcommittee should strive to maximize access to the lectures using the streaming video facilities at the large laboratories.

Particle Physics Booklets

Each year, one or more of the public lectures will be selected to be rewritten as a booklet for the science-interested general public. The goal is to produce a document which is attractive and accessible. To this end, the lecture will be rewritten by a professional science writer under the guidance of the lecturer, and will be laid out by a professional design firm and published using high quality materials. DPF will sponsor the development and publication, expected to cost about 15K$. The subcommittee will be responsible for retaining the science writer, design firm, and publisher. Booklets should be approximately 20 pages long. The booklets will be distributed free through the DPF and a web version will also be available on the DPF website.

Particle Physics Expo

The EOS will sponsor a Particle Physics Expo to be held in conjunction with the DPF annual meeting. The expo will have booths exhibiting posters, demonstrations, and particularly hands-on activities illustrating the excitement of physics (not limited to particle physics). The expo will target middle and high school students, and advanced arrangements with local science teachers and school transportation officials will be necessary.

Spinoffs and applications

The subcommittee will have responsibility for developing a database of results from particle physics research which have had, or might have, industrial or commercial use, or applications in other fields of science. The goal is for all experimental groups supported by DOE or NSF to provide (e.g., in conjunction with their annual progress reports) a brief summary of results or activities of broader relevance, with references or contact information, and images if possible. The aim will be to organize the database in a form which allows it to be easily searched by topic, geographical region, and fields of possible relevance. Funding for startup should be sought from DOE and NSF.

Recommendation 2: The committee recommends the formation of a standing Government Liaison Subcommittee (GLS)

The Subcommittee will provide and maintain resources for assisting the DPF membership in interacting with federal and state governments on scientific and technical issues. To this end, the GLS will:

  • Be responsible for organizing the annual Congressional reception.
  • Maintain a mailing list of key Congressional and administration contacts of importance for science policy and funding.
  • Regularly disseminate notices of advances in particle physics to the President’s Science Advisor, to elected members of Congress and their support staffs, to Governors of the states, and to state legislatures.
  • Serve as a “watchdog” group to monitor developments in Washington which would have significant impact on physics.
  • Report to the Executive Committee regularly including an annual action plan for the coming year.

First year action plan:

Once the subcommittee is in place, the first order of business should be the organization for the next Congressional reception. One person should be identified to take responsibility for making arrangements, publicizing the date, and recruiting physicists to make Congressional visits.

Assembling a mailing list for Congressional and administration contacts should be accomplished within the first year. The list should be available on the web.

Young Physicists’ Issues

The committee had initially intended to add another recommendation including support for the special circumstances of young people in our field. Since that time, the Young Particle Physicists (nee Young Physicists Panel) have developed a strong organizational structure and world-wide visibility from their promulgation of a questionnaire begun at Snowmass. The YPP has an active website and local chapters at laboratories in the US and Europe. The committee feels that the YPP is now strong enough to remain self-sustaining. The DPF Executive Committee could help ensure continuing success by having the YPP report regularly and inviting them to participate in planning of DPF-sponsored meetings.