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Pushpa Bhat , Fermilab
A letter from President Barack Obama congratulating the Forum and praising its work in bringing science and society issues to the attention of the physics community was one of the highlights of the40th anniversary celebration event of the FPS at the April 2012 meeting in Atlanta, GA. Another noteworthy feature of the meeting was a special FPS panel session on "American Science & America's Future" that garnered considerable attention in the news and social media. (See, for example, July 2012 P&S Newsletter for details on the panel, and http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/06/science-america-crisis-physics-society_n_1408244.html) Our "academic" year got off to a great start and the executive committee is committed to making the fifth decade of the FPS even better!
The activities of the Forum since the successful annual meetings have proceeded very well. Our committees on FPS-sponsored APS prizes/awards and fellowships have recognized exceptional individuals who have made outstanding contributions to physics and to the advancement of societal issues connected to physics. FPS has also awarded three prizes at the 2012 Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Congress for outstanding undergraduate student posters that involved issues at the interface of physics and society.
The FPS program committee has been busy planning plenary sessions for the 2013 APS annual meetings. FPS is collaborating with other APS forums and topical groups to create joint sessions where there are overlapping interests. More information on the planned sessions can be found in the Forum News section in this newsletter. Encouraged by the overwhelming positive response to the panel session on "American Science & America's Future" at the 2012 April meeting, the program committee endorsed my plan to promote a national dialogue on the topics in panel sessions at the upcoming March (March 18-22, Baltimore, MD) and April (April 13-16, Denver, CO) APS meetings in 2013. We expect to have a mix of prominent practicing scientists, policy makers and advisors as panelists for these sessions. We hope that many of you will participate in these very important discussions. A web page will be set up for APS members to submit questions and comments for these panels. We are also exploring the possibility of a live web cast of the panel sessions. Again, I hope that the discussions will provide us with ideas for action; action that we, as citizens, scientists and leaders, should undertake to help strengthen the US science & technology enterprise and leadership in the 21st century global society.
We are all acutely aware, that, in spite of the enormous progress in science and technology and the unprecedented prosperity and affluence they have brought to sections of our society, the world faces enormous challenges. I believe that scientists, through active engagement and action, can help create a better world. Therefore, I propose that FPS members devote a fraction of their time in grassroots efforts to engage the broader community of scientists and the general public (in local communities) in discussions of scientific issues that impact society. I very much look forward to hearing from and working with many of you on these efforts.
Please feel free to email me with suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope to see many of you at the FPS plenary sessions and the business meeting at the upcoming 2013 APS annual meetings.