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As part of the APS Strategic Plan: 2019, the APS Innovation Fund was created, which encourages collaborative partnerships among APS members, APS Units and Committees, and APS staff to develop new approaches to advancing the interests of the physics community.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on our community, it is also the case, as stated by the APS President and CEO, that the pandemic presents "an existential challenge, which can accelerate positive change, spur innovation, and make us stronger and more resilient." To facilitate these activities and respond to unique needs of the community as a result of the pandemic, APS reopened the Innovation Fund for a condensed cycle to fund projects that address critical needs resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
These two novel projects align with the APS mission “to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics for the benefit of humanity, promote physics, and service the broader physics community”.
The two projects that received COVID-19 cycle Innovation Fund grants in 2020 are:
During the pandemic, high-school physics students and teachers in Latin America are lacking interesting classroom material which can be taught online. Perimeter Institute (Waterloo, Canada) has developed 15 volumes of material on modern physics for high-school students which is available online in English, French and Portuguese. This project will translate the material into Spanish so that it can be used throughout Latin America both online during the pandemic and in the classroom when schools reopen.
Project Lead: Nathan Berkovits (Sao Paulo State University)
This project, “Departmental Admissions Practices that Maintain Excellence and Diversity in the Face of COVID-19” will generate critical knowledge to support Physics Departments to effectively adapt their graduate admissions in 2021 and beyond to the emerging constraints imposed by COVID-19 and associated uncertainty (travel restrictions, safety/health concerns, disrupted instructional modalities, etc). This project will particularly focus on practices in graduate admissions and student on-boarding that support continuing efforts to promote diversity, cohort size, and student success through these challenges. Guided by a continuing round-table of Directors of Graduate Study advising our activities, we will collect data on 2020 admissions and Fall 2020 enrollments, emergent and continuing recruitment/admissions practices, and 2020-2021 outcomes from a range of graduate programs in order to inform graduate programs beginning in Fall 2020 to support the next year of admissions (Fall 2021). The time-sensitivity of this information is critical, and this project seeks to generate the knowledge that departments need, when they need it, to support our community’s diversity and admissions efforts despite the massive disruptions imposed by COVID-19.
Project Leads: Geoff Potvin (Florida International University), Christopher Porter (Ohio State University), Galen Pickett (California State University, Long Beach)