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By Emily Conover
APS membership increased for the third year in a row, the APS Membership Department has announced, following its annual count. At the beginning of 2016, APS hit a record high of 53,099 members — an increase of 1,576 members over last year. The membership boost came mostly from students and early career members.
“We offer a lot at our meetings for students, and in particular undergrads, and I think we’re doing a better job communicating that,” says APS Director of Membership Trish Lettieri. In particular, the Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) are a significant and relatively new source of student members. Additionally, students receive one year of free membership in APS, and students who join the Society of Physics Students can also choose to join APS as part of their membership. Much of the growth occurred in these categories. Overall, student memberships increased from 17,002 last year to 18,716 in 2016.
Early-career membership, which is offered at a reduced price, increased by 508 members this year, continuing steady gains in that category over the past few years, after the discount was extended from three to five years post-graduation.
International membership also increased. Members living outside the U.S. now make up 24% of the Society, up from 23% last year. “That’s the highest it’s been since I’ve been here,” says Lettieri, who has been with APS for over two decades.
But not all membership categories have grown. “For me the concern is — and has been for a number of years — the slow decline of the regular member category,” Lettieri says. Regular memberships dropped by 629 members, from 21,722 last year to 21,093 at the beginning of 2016. In coming years, Lettieri hopes that some of the early career members will move on to become regular members after their five years are up.
To maintain steady membership growth, APS is working to better serve its members, Lettieri says. “We continue to try and run programs that benefit our early career members and students. But we’re also focusing on better communicating to the membership and engaging people onsite at APS meetings.”
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Emily Conover
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
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