Message from the Chair

Maria Spiropulu

Maria Spiropulu

What an awe-inspiring year 2015 was for international science cooperation, policy, deals, agreements and protocols! We have witnessed some historic events indeed. On 7 May 2015 in a White House ceremony led by OSTP Associate Director for Science Jo Handelsman, the United States signed an agreement for renewed cooperation with CERN-- the famous for the Higgs discovery pan-European laboratory, international organization, and center for scientific excellence. Under this historic CERN-US Cooperation Agreement, US Ambassador Hamamoto and CERN Director General Heuer signed a first series of four Protocols, plus one Addendum on Friday 18 December 2015 [1]. I was present in both those historic ceremonies and I can attest that the cooperation spirit is infectious. It inspires confidence in grand upcoming leaps and discoveries that change the way we think about the world.

On 14 July 2015 an international agreement toward nuclear non-proliferation was reached in Vienna (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or “Iran deal” between Iran, China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States, Germany and the European Union.) And a new era in US–Cuba relations has opened in 2015 that is bound to boost scientific cooperation between the two countries, given relaxing visa application requirements and shortening the process for scientists wishing to attend scientific meetings in the US or Cuba. These developments inspired some of our FIP invited sessions and talks at the March and April meetings.

Indeed our own Forum on International Physics grew further in 2015 reaching close to 4000 members! After the recent election we are lucky to capture Jerry Peterson (Colorado) as Vice-Chair, along with Surajit Sen (SUNY), and Vladimir Shiltsev (Fermilab) as Members at Large. Noemi Mirkin was re-elected in the position of Secretary/Treasurer and deserves our gratitude for serving FIP tirelessly! Cherrill Spencer rises in the Chair line to Chair-Elect in 2016.We thank Ed Berger (Chair in 2015) and Ercan Alp (Past-Chair in 2015) for their years of dedicated leadership of FIP.

In 2015 we have eight new APS fellows nominated by FIP. Congratulations to Xiao-Gang He (National Taiwan University) W. Mochan (Instituto de Ciencias Físicas) Jorge Morfin (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory) Choo-Hiap Oh (National University of Singapore) James Proudfoot (Argonne National Laboratory), Javid Sheikh, Eric Suraud (Université Paul Sabatier) and David Vitali (University of Camerino).

Noemi Mirkin together with the APS Office of International Affairs, the Overseas Chinese Physics Association (OCPA), the Association of Korean Physicists in America (AKPA) and the Iranian-American Physicists Group Network (IrAP) have organized the FIP Reception that will take place on March 15 at 6:00 pm (Latrobe Room - Hilton Baltimore). In this reception we honor the 2015 FIP APS Fellows and present them their awards. The FIP reception is an excellent opportunity to interact with speakers, officers of the American Physical Society, members of the co-sponsoring organizations, and your fellow FIP members, so mark your calendars and make sure you attend!

FIP ran in 2015 two cycles of the International Research Travel Grant Program (IRTGP) and I would like to note a continuous increase of applications to the program, signifying its impact and success. In her capacity as Vice-Chair of the Executive Committee in 2016, Cherrill Spenser will be responsible for the review process of the next two cycles with the help of Michele Irvin of APS. Applications for the 22nd cycle of the program are open with a deadline of April 15.

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In addition, in 2015 we launched a pilot program, the Distinguished Student Seminar Program (DS3), to support outstanding international students (both graduates and exceptional undergraduates) to travel and participate in the APS annual meetings. Congratulations to the first four students (Arita Gosh, Karan Jani, Arpan Sharma and Jasen Domoguen) selected by the DS3 program to give a talk or present posters in the April Meeting in Salt Lake City. FIP is grateful to Christine Darve, Maria Longobardi, Jason Gardner and Noemi Mirkin for their hard and persistent work towards launching this program. I would like to note the efforts of former FIP Chair and colleague of mine Harvey Newman who initiated the program some years ago.

In 2015 we had a successful and rather well attended set of invited sessions in the March and April meetings. This year FIP is offering again several interesting and exciting sessions: In March I have organized with Ilya Nemenman of DBIO “Large Scale Neuroscience Projects” (Session B12), with Aldo Romero of FIP and Barry Klein of DCOMP “International Cooperative efforts for electronic structure methods” (Session P14) and with David Gross and the help and participation of Frances Colón of the State Department “Physics and Physicists in Cuba” (Session Y4).

In April I have organized with Rocky Kolb “Big International Telescopes” (Session Y7), with Marcela Carena of DPF “Big International Neutrino Projects and Collaborations” (Session S7) and taking many of your suggestions “Physics and Physicists around the world” (Session X7) featuring Iran, China and Russia. In addition FIP is organizing this year the Sakharov Prize session (U7) where we will honor Zafra Lerman, President of the Malta Conferences Foundation who is this year’s recipient of the Sakharov Prize "For life-long devotion to the scientific freedom and human rights of scientists throughout the world and for compelling leadership in using science as a bridge to peace in the Middle East." In the same session Adam Jermyn will receive his LeRoy Apker Thesis Award “For original contributions to understanding how the atmospheres of pulsar companions are heated and for elucidating the observational consequences.” Perry Link, the translator of the Fang Lizhi auto-biography "The most wanted man in China,” will give a tribute lecture in honor of Feng Lizhi and his recognized human rights work.

On behalf of FIP I wish to congratulate Per Nordblad of Uppsala University, 2015 John Wheatley Award Recipient "For his enormous and sustained efforts of nearly three decades in nurturing physics research and education in several Third World countries, including Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and Eritrea, leading to the establishment of several prominent groups pursuing internationally competitive physics today." I also wish to congratulate the recipients of the 2016 Beller Lectureships: Laura Heyderman (ETH Zurich - Paul Scherrer Institute, Switzerland), Gütz Neuneck_(Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg, Germany) & David Wootton (University of York, United Kingdom).

At the time of this writing we are all awaiting the results from LIGO to be announced and there is no physicist in the entire Universe who is not excited about the experimental discovery of gravitational waves. The reach of the human capacity and persistence is awe-inspiring: using quantum precision measurements and devices to establish a cosmic observatory and inaugurate a new field of science. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) is comprised of more than 1000 people from over 90 institutions and 15 countries worldwide. The cadence of science is international!

Let me close by encouraging you to attend this year’s FIP sessions at the March and April meetings, invite you to send us your feedback and ideas for next year’s FIP sessions, as well as all the international science programs FIP is running and urge you to engage in the activities of the Forum, bring the mission to the attention of potential new members and think how we can all make science a vehicle for international partnerships at all levels and global engagement the enabler of scientific breakthroughs.

  1. The “Experiments Protocol II”, on the US participation in ATLAS and CMS, including participation in the HL-LHC upgrades and operation, the “Nuclear Physics Experiments Protocol I”, on the US participation in the heavy ion programmes of ALICE, ATLAS and CMS, the “Accelerator Protocol III”, on the US participation in the LHC high luminosity upgrade and finally the “Neutrino protocol I”, on the participation of CERN in the future Fermilab Long-Baseline Neutrino Programme (LBNP). In addition, both parties signed an Addendum to “Accelerator Protocol III” on the US participation in the Future Circular Collider study.

Maria Spiropulu, our FIP Chair, is an experimental physicist and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. She is a member of the CMS collaboration at the Large Hadron Collider.