Reflections and Review by our Past Chair: Michael Barnett

When you are Chair of an APS unit (such as the Forum on Outreach and Engaging the Public), you enter as Vice Chair, then move through Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past Chair. So there is a four-year involvement. My term as Past Chair of FOEP ended on December 31. You never know what team you will join when you get elected, but for me it has been a great pleasure to work with this group of enthusiastic and truly creative people. I think that we have accomplished a lot as a very new Forum. And I certainly enjoyed interacting with and learning from all of the officers.

During my tenure, the committee had many accomplishments, including our first Fellows, starting with Alan Alda. Alda is famous for being an actor and writer, but he has been a great champion of science communication. The Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach was transferred to FOEP from the Division of Plasma Physics, and went to people such as Charles Falco, David E. Kaplan, and our own Dan Dahlberg.

In addition to his research, Falco began (in 2001) collaborating with the British-American artist David Hockney, resulting in their discovery of scientific evidence in paintings made as early as c.1430 that demonstrated portions of them were created with the aid of optical projections. Kaplan spent several years producing the award-winning documentary Particle Fever, which the New York Times called "mind blowing". Dahlberg has led "The Physics Force", a K-12 outreach program, which brings excitement and wonder to thousands of students every year.

During my tenure, FOEP carried out an extensive survey of our fast growing membership (with 343 responses) from which we learned a lot about our membership, including who they are, what they want FOEP to do, and what they are doing.

A major activity for FOEP is always to provide outreach sessions at the March and April meetings, and during this era there were special talks and even plays. We collaborated with other Units (for example FEd and FHP) for some activities. We created two newsletters a year and maintained a website; these gave insights into useful outreach websites and resources, showed where funding might be obtained for outreach, and had articles about many outreach highlights. Finally, because of the APS reorganization, there was a substantial rewriting of our bylaws, which were approved by Council.

My tenure on this Committee has been productive, informative, and enjoyable. Thanks to all who contributed.

Contributed by: Michael Barnett