American Physical Society Office of International Affairs

Amy Flatten

The APS International Affairs Office continues to enjoy a partnership with FIP members and many of our activities spring from our close collaborations. Given our shared interests, I want to take this opportunity to summarize a few highlights of our international efforts these past few months:
  • April Meeting Online Presentations Trial: The APS is working to better serve those members who cannot travel to APS meetings, especially those living outside of the United States (nearly 25% of the non-student members). At the 2011 April Meeting in Anaheim, the Society conducted a trial of the usefulness and acceptance of online presentations from a broad cross-section of plenary, scientific and general-interest sessions. This effort was spear-headed by the Committee on International Scientific Affairs (CISA). In this edition of the FIP Newsletter, Prof. Karsten Heeger, Chair of CISA, has described this effort in greater detail. The information and statistics gathered in this test will be used to guide the long-term planning for providing online access to future APS meetings.
  • Exchange Programs with Brazil & India: In partnership with the Sociedade Brasileira de Física (SBF), last spring brought our first call for proposals for the Brazil-U.S. Physics Student Visitation Program and Brazil-U.S. Professorship/Lectureship Program. Both APS and SBF will each award travel grants to 10 students and 5 professors each year and will issue a second call for proposals this coming fall. Likewise, our India-U.S. Exchange programs continue to thrive and the APS provided travel awards to 6 graduate students and 3 professors, with another call for proposals also coming this fall. More information on these programs is available at:
  • 2011 Canadian American Mexican Graduate Student Physics Conference (CAM2011): The International Affairs Office is working closely with the Forum on Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA) to host CAM2011 in Washington, D.C., this coming September 29 – October 1, 2011. The CAM conferences are bi-annual meetings cosponsored by the APS, the Canadian Association of Physicists (CAP), and the Sociedad Mexicana de Física (SMF). They provide a unique scientific meeting for physics graduate students and are organized by the students themselves, with mentorship from senior staff of the respective professional societies.  Hosting CAM2011 in Washington, D.C. provides a unique opportunity to highlight the links among science, diplomacy and public policy. Along with the traditional scientific presentations in various physics sub-disciplines, 2 additional panel discussions will help the international audience of graduate students to better understand the important contributions of scientists beyond laboratory research: 1) “Careers in Science Policy – Challenges, Opportunities, and Case Examples;” and 2) “Science, Foreign Policy and Diplomacy – Role of Scientific Societies & Other NGOs.”
  • Beller Lectureship Awards: The Beller Lectureship was endowed by Esther Hoffman Beller for the purpose of bringing distinguished physicists from abroad as invited speakers at APS meetings. Each fall, the APS International Office and CISA invite Chairs of APS units and committees that organize sessions at the APS March and April Meetings to submit nominations. Awardees receive up to $2000 to travel to the meeting. The Beller Lectureship Recipients for the 2011 APS March Meeting were:

    1. Rienk van Grondelle
      Affiliation: Vrije University, The Netherlands
      Nominated by the Division of Biological Physics (DBIO)
    2. Francisco Guinea
      Affiliation: Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid, CSIS, Spain
      Nominated by the Division of Materials Physics (DMP)
  • Including International Perspectives in APS Advisory Committees: Last April, the APS Committee on International Scientific Affairs (CISA) provided a memo to the APS Executive Board, recognizing the Society’s efforts to better serve and engage its members living outside of the United States. In the memo, CISA suggested that these efforts to engage internationally can be even further strengthened by appointing more international members to the Society’s advisory committees. CISA noted that while approximately 25% of the non-student members reside outside of the United States, except for the specifically designated "international" APS committees (i.e., CISA and the Committee on International Freedom of Scientists--CIFS), only one of the remaining 19 advisory committees included a member living outside of the United States (Canada). In the upcoming years, the APS will need to grow its internationally diverse pool of nominations for committee positions. Consequently, I urge the members of FIP to suggest nominees, especially for the cross-cutting committees such as Committee on Meetings, Membership, etc. The full list of committees is available at:
  • International Friends Network – Call for “Activity Grant” Proposals: The Society’s “International Friends” provide a network of APS contacts outside of the United States. These volunteers also serve as links between APS and physicists in their local communities. The Society has approved a modest budget to provide funds for local APS activities planned by International Friends and we issued our first call for “Activity Grant” proposals this past spring. The objective of these grants is to enable additional APS activities for members outside of the United States. Thus, we want to support APS-related events that members organize that their institutions, departments and/or local communities. These activities may include bringing a speaker to a physics seminar, supporting a small reception for APS members at a physics meeting, or enabling the Friends to host a joint event in partnership with a local physics institution, other ideas. We received several outstanding proposals this spring, and will issue another call for proposals this fall.

These highlights reflect but a few of our international efforts these past few months and I urge you all to learn more about our activities at The members of the Forum on International Physics serve as an important resource for our international initiatives and thus, I particularly ask the FIP members for suggestions on how we may: 1) better engage our APS members living outside the United States; 2) strengthen our partnerships with other national physical societies, and 3) expand our service to the international physics community.  I look forward to working together and I thank the members of FIP for your ongoing contributions to our efforts.

Dr. Amy Flatten is Director of International Affairs at the American Physical Society.

Disclaimer—The articles and opinion pieces found in this issue of the APS Forum on International Physics Newsletter are not peer refereed and represent solely the views of the authors and not necessarily the views of the APS.