Candidates for Forum Executive Committee Positions

Elections to fill open positions on the Forum's Executive Committee will soon be underway (Vice-Chair, Secretary-Treasurer, and two Members-at Large); Forum members should receive voting instructions around mid-October. The Nominating Committee [Philip Taylor (chair), Jessica Clark, David Harris, Beverly Hartline and Brian Schwartz] have put together a slate of excellent candidates, whose backgrounds and statements follow.

Vice Chair

(vote for no more than one candidate)

Pushpa Bhat

Background: Dr.Pushpa Bhat is a scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), which she joined in 1989. Her research career, which has taken her across three continents, has spanned applied physics, nuclear physics and experimental particle physics - from keV energies to the energy frontier. At Fermilab, she has worked on both fixed target and collider experiments, and was one of the leaders of the Fermilab Tevatron Luminosity upgrades project during the critical years 2003-2006. She has been an active member of the DZero collaboration for 20 years, making significant contributions to the discovery of the top quark, to the measurement of its mass and to new particle searches. Dr. Bhat is also a member of the CMS experimental collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, and an adjunct professor and a member of the graduate faculty at Northern Illinois University. She has published over 250 papers including many review articles, has given many invited talks and public lectures, and has organized several international conferences. She has mentored dozens of students, at all academic levels, and is an active organizer and facilitator of public outreach programs. In 2008, Dr. Bhat was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her "visionary leadership in new particle searches and her key role in the Tevatron upgrades program." She is currently serving her third and final year as the Secretary-Treasurer of the APS Forum on Physics & Society.

Statement: Scientists have an obligation and a duty to inform and interact with society at large in guiding how the ideas, and tools, of science are used. The renewal of a strong commitment to scientific research in this nation and the recent funding increases for research and education provide an extraordinary opportunity to enlist the help of scientists in setting humanity back on the path towards peace and prosperity. The APS Forum on Physics and Society (FPS) can and should play a role in this grand human endeavor. It has been my privilege to serve as the Secretary-Treasurer of the FPS for the past three years. The Forum supports a strong program on a variety of physics and society issues at the APS annual meetings and through its quarterly newsletters. Moreover, it provides an opportunity to lead a conversation between physicists, policy makers and the public. I therefore initiated, at last year's meeting, panel sessions and public town hall meetings to engage the broader community of physicists and the general public in such discussions. If I am afforded the opportunity to serve as vice-chair, I shall implement ideas aimed at improving the Forum's ability to fulfill its role as a facilitator of healthy dialogue about the most pressing issues of physics and society. I wish to make the FPS town hall meeting a regular feature at the annual meetings, and have them video-streamed as a live broadcast and archived so that anyone who wants to can access them through the FPS website. I believe we should also work towards holding such town halls at regional APS meetings with the help of member volunteers, whenever possible. FPS should also forge partnerships with similar forums abroad to engage in global issues. To encourage FPS members to drive the Forum's plans and activities, I propose to implement an ideas/feedback/volunteering "drop box" at the FPS website. The Forum is steadily improving and adapting to the times and the needs. My goal, should I be given the opportunity to serve, is to accelerate the process of improvement and rejuvenation so that the FPS remains a major participant in the important discussions about science and society that lie ahead.

William Fickinger

Background: Bill Fickinger is Professor Emeritus of Physics at Case Western Reserve University. He is a graduate of Manhattan College and earned a PhD in physics at Yale University in 1961. His research concentration was accelerator-based particle physics, moving from bubble chamber experiments to those with electronic detectors. His area of expertise was the associated software and data analysis, as he held various post-doctoral and junior positions at Brookhaven, Kentucky, Saclay, and Vanderbilt before joining the faculty at Case Western Reserve. He co-authored several dozen papers on the discovery and properties of hadronic states, contributing significantly to the Standard Model's building blocks. He has been for many years secretary of the CWRU AAUP Chapter and was recipient of the Ohio AAUP Kennedy Award for his service. During his last ten years at CWRU he was Director of Undergraduate Studies in the physics department, and while now in formal retirement, he continues to work at the university, writing and tending to physics archival materials.  He recently published a history of 160 years of physics research at his home institution. He is currently writing a scientific biography "X-rays, Flutes and Aether, Dayton C. Miller's Physics". Bill has for the past several years been secretary of the Cleveland Chapter of National Peace Action, the descendent of Sane Freeze. He was co-founder in 2003 of "Case for Peace," a campus-based group. His particular interest is the control and speedy elimination of all nuclear weapons.

Statement: Every member of the APS should be a member of its Forum on Physics & Society. What are Society's most urgent concerns? Endless war, the abused environment, depleting energy sources, insufficient food, declining world health. What keeps Society from alleviating these concerns? Ignorance and greed. Where should Society turn for help? Among other informed and well-intentioned citizens are many physicists who are concerned enough to complain, but not concerned enough to become part of the solution. It is time for them to counterbalance industrial and financial lobbyists by working with the nation's "decision makers" on such questions as arms control, nuclear energy, climate change, and renewable energy sources. Professional physicists must join with other scientists and engineers to make sure that people are educated and motivated and that politicians are challenged and informed. APS members should study up on one or more of these areas, talk about it in their classrooms, their workplace, their lab, their town hall, their tennis court. Then they should get on the phone and call their congress-person. In the long run, the Forum will prove to be the most important component of the APS.


(vote for no more than one candidate)

Lee Schroeder

Background: Lee Schroeder is a retired senior physicist from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) who is presently working part-time on connections between applied and basic research in the area of fuel cycle R&D at DOE. He received his PhD in physics from Indiana University in 1966 and was on the faculty at Iowa State University before joining LBNL in 1971, where he was involved in experiments in high-energy particle physics and relativistic nuclear collisions, co-authoring over 120 publications during his 36 years on the staff. At LBNL he served as group leader, Bevalac Scientific Director (1987-1991) and Nuclear Science Division Director from 1995-2001. In time away from Berkeley he was a program manager in DOE's Nuclear Physics Office (1987-1989) and its Nuclear Physics Advisor (2004-2005) and served as the Assistant Director for Physical Sciences and Engineering at the White House Science Office (1992-1993). He has served on national advisory committees for DOE and NSF, as well as the NRC's Committee on Biomedical Isotopes (1994-1995). He has been a member or chair of numerous international conferences on nuclear and particle physics. For DOE Nuclear Physics he co-chaired (2002) the Workshop on the Role of the Nuclear Physics Research Community in Combating Terrorism and in 2003 organized a nuclear training course for "first responders" for the city of Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics (London, England). He was honored as an "outstanding alumnus" in the College of Arts and Sciences at Drexel University during its Centennial Anniversary as well as being one of the "Drexel 100" - honoring the top 100 Drexel graduates. In 1993 he was the recipient of Drexel's Science and Engineering Award for contributions in basic science in particle and nuclear physics and work in public science policy. He served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nuclear Physics (2003-2004) and presently serves on the editorial board for the Forum on Physics and Society.

Statement: Educating the public and political arenas on the challenges and rewards of supporting applied and basic research, particularly in this time of unprecedented challenges to our society, must continue as the principal focus of the Forum on Physics and Society. Education and outreach are the essential tools we need to continue to develop and refine at our public meetings, in our written articles and our visits at the local, state and congressional level. Science is one of the keys to enable the nation's future and, if elected, I look forward to working with the Forum's Executive Committee and its membership, in making the strongest case for its support.

Benn Tannenbaum

Background: Benn Tannenbaum is Associate Program Director at the Center for Science, Technology and Security Policy at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where he works to connect policy makers with researchers studying science and security-related topics. He has testified before the House Homeland Security Committee on radiation portal monitors. Tannenbaum also serves on the Executive Committee of the APS Forum on Physics and Society, the Board of the Triple Helix and the Board of the Scoville Peace Fellowships. He has served on the APS Panel on Public Affairs. In addition to leading AAAS studies on the Reliable Replacement Warhead, nuclear forensics, and U.S. nuclear weapons policy, he was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations study "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy" and of the Henry Stimson Center study "Leveraging National Laboratory S&T Assets for 21st Century Security." Prior to joining AAAS, Tannenbaum worked as a Senior Research Analyst for the Federation of American Scientists. He is co-author of Flying Blind: The Rise, Fall, and Possible Resurrection of Science Policy Advice in the United States, a book detailing ways to increase the quality and consistency of science advising to the federal government. Before joining FAS, Tannenbaum served as the 2002-2003 American Physical Society Congressional Science Fellow. During his Fellowship, Tannenbaum worked for Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA) on nuclear nonproliferation issues. Before his Fellowship, he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles. At UCLA, he was involved in the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment at CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland, and the Collider Detector Facility at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago, Illinois. He served on the FNAL Users Executive Committee from 2000-2003 and was the UEC chair from 2001-2002. Tannenbaum also co-founded the Graduate Student Association at Fermilab while a student there. He received a Ph.D. in experimental particle physics from the University of New Mexico in 1997, a MS in physics from Michigan State University in 1993, and a BA in physics from Grinnell College in 1990.

Statement: The point where science and society - and especially science and security-intersect is a critical one. I have spent the past several years working to ensure that policy makers have access to the best possible science to help them formulate solid policy, and see a natural overlap between my work and the activities of the Forum on Physics and Society. While the last administration seemed to have no particular interest in using science in the formulation of public policy, the current administration has reversed that particular trend. Too often, however, the technical competence of the government has been allowed to atrophy, meaning that hard questions are even harder to answer. A vital gap in the ability of the government and the public to get high-quality analyses of important issues has been filled by the Panel on Public Affairs. The Forum on Physics and Society serves, in my mind, the opposite role: it provides a place in which physicists can discuss and reflect on how their work affects society, and how society affects their work. I have been involved with FPS for several years now and understand what the Forum can and cannot do. If elected, I will work to encourage an increase in this discussion within the APS and to encourage more members to engage those outside of the society. I will also work with the Chair, the Editor of Physics and Society and the members of the Executive Committee to find a way to give a voice to the membership of the Forum.


(vote for no more than two candidates)

Lea F. Santos

Background: Lea F. Santos is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University since 2007. She received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 2000. Three postdoctoral positions followed: at Yale University (2000-2001) she worked on random matrix theory, at Michigan State University (2002-2004) she studied the interplay between interaction and disorder in quantum many-body systems, and at Dartmouth College (2004-2007) she developed new quantum control methods. She has been awarded two fellowships from the State of Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), one from the New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA), and one from the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). She was selected as a KITP Scholar for 2009-2011 and as a member of the US delegation to 3rd IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics in 2008. She is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the ANACAPA Society, and the Committee of Concerned Scientists.

Statement: True democracy will never exist in a country where information and the knowledge of how to access it are privileges of few. When it comes to science related topics, such as energy, sustainable technology, the risks of nuclear weapons, climate change, public health, and education, the implementation of measures that benefit society as a whole requires citizens and representatives who are literate in science. The Forum of Physics and Society (FPS) has had a key role in sponsoring sessions and courses at American Physical Society (APS) meetings on topical science-and-society issues, many of which were published. A significant aspect of some of these symposia is to be co-sponsored by other APS forums and committees, such as the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP). I would like to further reinforce these collaborative efforts. Having co-authored the U.S. delegation paper Women in Physics in the United States for the proceedings of the 3rd IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics and written the article Science for All in a 2009 newsletter of the CSWP brought me awareness of how embarrassingly low keeps being the representation of women and minorities in physics and how crucial debates are to reverse this scenario. My other goal at the FPS would be to guarantee that the repercussions of the forum events are felt far beyond the physics community. This may be achieved by strengthening and establishing alliances with associations such as the American Association of Physics Teachers, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and also with non-profit media organizations such as National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Oriol Valls

Background: Oriol T. Valls is currently a Professor of Physics at the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Minnesota. He is also a Fellow of the Minnesota Supercomputer Institute. He has been a member of the American Physical Society since his student times, a member of the Forum on Physics and Society for over twenty years, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society since 1998, being nominated for his work on exotic Cooper pairing. He is a well-known theoretical Solid State physicist who has done extensive work on exotic forms of superconductivity as well as on nonequilibrium phenomena and on glasses. After obtaining his PhD in 1976 at Brown University, he was a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Chicago and a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining the University of Minnesota faculty. He has been a visiting Professor or visiting Scientist at NORDITA, the University of Paris, IBM, and Argonne National Laboratory, among other places. At the Forum on Physics and Society, he has recently served as member of the nominating committee for several years.

Statement: I joined our forum many years ago, and I have been active in it since, because I think that it is fundamental to the well-being of both the Physics profession and of Society at large that societal issues on which the physical sciences have something to say be discussed within the proper scientific context. Society's decision makers must be given the scientific input they need, while physicists must come down from their ivory tower, or out of their labs, and see what are the needs of society where they can help. If elected, I would endeavor to get the Forum to increase its outreach efforts. I would advocate to increase the size and circulation of our newsletter so that, while we continue our healthy debate on many issues amongst ourselves, more space can be devoted to articles directed not to other members, but to the educated public at large. We have to remember that most decision-makers in society at large did not take calculus in college. I would also attempt to increase the space devoted in Physics Today to Forum-related issues. The Forum should also continue to be active in its outreach efforts towards high school and undergraduate students, and the teachers who mentor them.

Herman White

Background: Dr. Herman White has been a particle physics scientist at Fermilab for the past 35 years. He completed undergraduate studies at Earlham College, graduate studies in Nuclear and Accelerator Physics at Michigan State, and Elementary Particle Physics at Florida State University and Yale. He was a Resident Research Associate in Nuclear Physics at Argonne National Laboratory for a period in 1971, an Alfred P. Sloan travel fellow at CERN in 1972, and University Fellow at Yale from 1976-78. His research has covered a range of topics in Particle and Nuclear Physics, as well as work with Accelerators and Particle Beams. In addition to his Scientist position on the Fermilab staff, for the past 15 years he has also served as an Illinois Research Corridor Fellow and Adjunct Professor of Physics at North Central College in Naperville, IL. Starting with a position as an elected member of the Fermilab Users Executive committee in 1999, he has maintained consistent involvement with many communication efforts to bring information, concerns, and focus about Physics and physical science research to many members of the US Congress and governmental agencies in Washington and elsewhere. He advises and currently serves on a number of panels and committees with the NSF, Department of Energy, and the National Academies. He has also been engaged in physics and science education for a number of years. He is a member of the APS Forum on Education, past member of the APS Committee on Minorities, and last year's US delegation to the ICWIP, and a member of DPF and past DPF and APS communication committees. He also contributes to his regional and national community as a member of a number of governing Boards of Directors, including Edward Hospital, Vice Chairman of the Board of North Central College, and civic commissions.

Statement: Perhaps now more than ever is a time to address important issues of science, technological progress and its impact on society. There is an active debate in our society and worldwide about the value of science and the use of science in education, economics, political leadership, global conflict, and many other topics. For some time the voice of scientists and the scientific community have been limited. There are many organizations increasing their voice in this important dialogue, and I believe the Forum on Physics and Society should continue to lead and be a vital component of this dialogue. Formulating a clear view of issues with an understanding of the scientific facts is most important in reaching effective and sustaining action that truly benefits society. I am grateful to be involved as a member of the Forum on Physics and Society and to help promote the vital aims and activities of the Forum and the APS.

Richard Wiener

Background: Richard Wiener is a program officer at Research Corporation for Science Advancement, a private foundation founded in 1912 by Frederick Gardner Cottrell that supports academic research in Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry. He is directing RCSA's new funding program in Solar Energy Conversion. Until recently he was a physics professor at Pacific University in Oregon and Chair of the Division of Natural Sciences. His research interests are in the field of nonlinear pattern dynamics. He is also interested in environmental physics and modeling of resource depletion. He completed a BA in philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley and a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Oregon under the direction of London Prize recipient Russell Donnelly. He has been a National Corporation for Atmospheric Research Postdoctoral Fellow in Ocean Modeling at Oregon State University, a Visiting Professor at Lewis & Clark College, and a Visiting Professor at Cornell University, where he worked in the research group of Eberhard Bodenschatz.

Statement: The fundamental challenge for civilization in the 21st Century is providing food, water, and energy for humanity as population continues to grow nearly exponentially. We are facing dire consequences as access to nonrenewable resources for seven billion people becomes more problematic. Reliance on fossil fuels threatens global climate, just as resource shortages threaten global security. Physicists likely will play a critical role in the solution of these problems, if they are solved. I believe the purpose of the Forum on Physics & Society is to stimulate and foster rational debate on critical policy questions to which physicists can make an important contribution, both within the physics community and before the public at large. It is our responsibility to raise awareness of the magnitude of the difficulties facing humanity. One crucial contribution we can make is to communicate the physical constraints that bound these fundamental problems. For example, I wrote an article in the Forum July 2006 newsletter on the negligible effect drilling in ANWR would have on U.S. dependency on foreign oil. This is a microcosm of the much greater problem of supplying energy for an increasing world population while simultaneously limiting environmental degradation to an acceptable level. I also wrote book reviews of "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins in the Forum October 2007 newsletter and "Science, Evolution, and Creationism" by the National Academy of Sciences in the Forum July 2008 newsletter. These book reviews deal with the tension between science and religion that complicates solutions to worldwide problems. Please read these pieces in the Forum newsletters, if you wish to have a better idea of my thinking on these issues. I am committed to the Forum providing the highest level of ongoing discussion on what the constraints are, and what solutions fit the constraints, to the challenges we must overcome if civilization is to avoid global catastrophe.

This contribution has not been peer refereed. It represents solely the view(s) of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of APS.