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Throughout 2018, APS members, leadership, and staff prepared a new Strategic Plan to guide the Society and lay out priorities for APS in the years ahead. Strategic planning is an opportunity to set priorities, focus resources, work toward common goals, and assess and adjust the Society's direction in response to a changing environment.
"I don’t see strategic planning as a tactical exercise but as a process that will lay out options, strategies, and rationales so that APS can remain a strong advocate for physics in a changing environment," said 2018 APS President Roger Falcone.
This process involved the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, APS Board of Directors, APS Senior Management Team, staff, and volunteer leaders working with a consultant to bring in stakeholders and stay at a consistently high level. Outreach to membership included discussions at the APS Leadership Convocation, Town Halls at APS March and April Meetings, Focus Groups at March and April Meetings, presentations at the APS Annual Business Meeting, and an online feedback form.
The result has been a dynamic, nimble plan that is easy for everyone to understand, a document that is an active guide for APS to respond to opportunities and challenges. The APS Strategic Plan: 2019 will be used to communicate the organization’s goals, potential actions, and metrics for measuring success and impact, both internally and externally . The plan document can be downloaded at the APS Strategic Plan 2019 page.
"I am very impressed by the efforts of the staff and the Board and all the committees who put in an incredible amount of work and completed the plan on schedule,” said 2019 APS President David Gross. “We want to improve current operations and build on what APS has always been doing and doing well, to doing it even better. Given my limited time as President, I have focused on implementing some of the newer initiatives, especially the Innovation Fund and a new annual meeting."
Added APS CEO Kate Kirby, "APS has a tremendous amount to be proud of in terms of the things the Society does for and with the physics community. It is important for us to continue doing those things but also to explore, experiment, and pilot new ways to move forward."
Here are some of the important accomplishments thus far:
APS Innovation Fund: The APS Innovation Fund was launched in early 2019 to inspire members to develop fresh approaches to serving the physics community in ways aligned with the Strategic Plan. Four projects were selected for funding (see APS News, August/September 2019): improving the APS meeting experience through machine learning; the APS Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity Alliance (APS-IDEA) to create a network of diversity leaders; informing and activating the US physics community to tackle nuclear proliferation issues; and the US-Africa Initiative in Electronic Structure to foster collaborations between African and US physicists. The APS Board and Council voted in November to continue the Innovation Fund in 2020.
APS Ethics Committee: A new Ethics Committee, which convened for the first time on June 6, 2019, will lead the charge for promoting ethical practices by APS members (see APS News, July 2019). The committee chair for 2019-2020 is Michael Marder (University of Texas at Austin). Among the committee's many roles will be development and review of ethics policies for APS; procedures for handling complaints and potential revocation of honors; creating materials to educate members in best practices; and organizing educational events on ethics matters at APS meetings.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: In addition to new initiatives such as the APS-IDEA project, APS is establishing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force to explore ways to improve the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in the physics community and the Society. Most recently, a new membership unit—the APS Forum on Diversity and Inclusion—has been approved by the APS Council following a strong petition by APS members (see page 1). Associated with these efforts, APS has joined the Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine) to share knowledge and expertise in combating sexual harassment in the sciences (see APS News, July 2019).
Industrial Physics Task Force: Since 2013, APS has supported an Industrial Physics Fellow (see APS News, December 2013) who is tasked with engaging members in the private sector and informing students about career opportunities in industry. A task force is being constituted to review and bolster APS efforts to best serve and attract industrial physicists. As one of the next steps, APS is changing the position of Fellow to that of Director of Industrial Engagement to further enhance the connection between the Society and both members and non-members in industry.
Member Attraction and Retention Study: In December, the APS Committee on Membership and the APS Membership Department convened a study group to evaluate member and non-member perceptions of APS. With the help of consultants, the group will analyze existing member data and also launch a survey to understand what programs, benefits, and services are most needed, as well as to identify new or underserved segments of the physics community. The group expects to have actionable results by mid-2020.
Science Mobility Initiative: There has been a precipitous drop in applications to US universities from students abroad, and a recent APS survey reveals significant challenges faced by students seeking visas to study in the US (APS News, December 2019). Among the actions APS has taken are: advocating for the Keep STEM Talent Act in Congress to allow students to study in the US and then permit them to seek work in the US; supporting Congressional staff in drafting a resolution that clarifies the essential contribution of international students and scientists; and engaging vigorously in discussions with policymakers to help ensure a healthy balance between security concerns and openness. For more, see the Back Page article "Openness, Security, and APS Activities to Help Maintain the Balance" by the 2019 APS Presidential Line in the August/September 2019 issue of APS News.
New Annual Leadership Meeting: Each year at the end of January, APS has held a Leadership Convocation to bring together the leaders of APS membership units, the Board of Directors, and APS staff to share knowledge about the Society. Starting in 2020, this gathering will be expanded to an Annual Leadership Meeting to strengthen the presence of APS in policy, scientific, and public arenas. This will be an opportunity to bring attention to forefront physics and science policy issues and convene policymakers, international physics leaders, and student ambassadors to discuss international cooperation, collaboration, and competition.
Launch of Physical Review Research: To offer more options for authors and readers of research results, APS launched its fourth fully open-access journal, Physical Review Research, with the first papers published in August 2019 (see APS News, August 2019). The journal is positioned alongside Physical Review A-E, with similar selection criteria to these established titles. Physical Review Research welcomes papers from the full spectrum of research topics of interest to the physics community. By mid-November, Physical Review Research had published its 200th article, well ahead of expectations.
March Meeting Task Force: In recent years, the APS March Meeting has grown annually by about 10 percent in attendance. While a strong measure of success, this growth presents challenges. A new APS task force has been created to explore ways to build upon this success while adapting to the changing physics landscape and, in particular, strengthening the meeting’s relevance to students and those in the private sector. The group is chaired by Sharon Glotzer (University of Michigan) and Barbara Jones (IBM). Among other activities, the task force will hold a Town Hall session at the upcoming APS March Meeting in Denver.
For more information on the APS Strategic Plan: 2019 visit the web page.
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondent: Alaina G. Levine
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