H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

Striking the right balance
Twice a year the AIP Governing Board meets to review the institute's programs, products, and services, and to provide advice and counsel to management. The fall 2009 Governing Board meeting was held on November 17 in College Park, MD. By tradition, an important agenda item at this meeting is the review and approval of the proposed budget for the succeeding year. Given the financial stress on AIP caused by the ongoing global recession, the consideration of the budget was not a cut-and-dry task. Throughout the year, the institute reached deep to find cost-saving measures that would not compromise essential services to our customers. This activity was coupled with new product development in Publishing and graduated service expansion in Physics Resources, to grow as the economy improves.

Yet perhaps the most significant item presented at this board meeting was a summary of changes underway in AIP's publishing operations. These strategic changes come in response partly to the global financial conditions, but more importantly to the evolution of the whole publishing industry as it responds to rapid technological growth, more global reach, the proliferation of online information, and commoditization of services. Vice president for Publishing John Haynes joined the institute last February and invested his first few months on the job in assessing the health of AIP's publishing enterprise. He reported to the board that he found an organization with core strengths, a strong product line, and an excellent reputation among its customers. However, he also found significant areas where improvement was needed in order to successfully address strong market forces in scholarly publishing. In August, AIP launched a strategic realignment of AIP Publishing that (1) focuses on informatics and production, with special attention to cost, productivity, and content enhancement; (2) gives greater attention to customers and marketing opportunities, including a much greater focus on our partner journals; and (3) concentrates on publishing technology as a key driver of all business. The board responded favorably to John's presentation. Our customers who attended last month's Frankfurt Book Fair were similarly pleased upon learning about three major new products from AIP stemming from these initiatives (see AIP Matters October 26 issue).

The board considered a report from the Governing Board Committee on the Physics Today Business Plan, which was tasked with assessing the financial model of Physics Today. This monthly AIP publication is distributed to all Member Society members, who number more than 134,000. The committee, chaired by Anthony Atchley from the Acoustical Society of America, reported advertising revenues were not sufficient to cover the increasing distribution costs to both domestic and international members. The committee's recommendations included increased business plan oversight, cost-control, and raising Member Society dues to help cover distribution costs. The board passed the resolution as a measure to safeguard this very important benefit to Member Society members. AIP will continue to support the creation of PT's editorial content.

As a tumultuous and exciting year draws to a close, our Governing Board has scrutinized and subsequently approved our strategy, plans, and budget to propel AIP programs through 2010. We thank and acknowledge the efforts of our Governing Board, particularly prior to and during the intense engagement required for the spring and fall meetings.


New developments for JPCRD in the coming year
Members of the JPCRD management board
At a recent meeting, the management board of the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data discussed some interesting new directions for the journal. The meeting was conducted via videoconference between the Melville Publishing Center and the Gaithersburg, MD office of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). On site in Gaithersburg were co-editors Donald Burgess and Robert Watters and other NIST staff, and in Melville were co-editor Allan Harvey, of NIST's Boulder, CO office, and various AIP staff. The day's discussion included reviewing the journal's newly enhanced website and finalizing details about the launch of JPCRD's full backfile on Scitation—back to Volume 1 (1972)—which will be made available for the 2010 subscription year. Also discussed was JPCRD's transition from traditional page numbers to AIP's citation-identifier format, to be implemented January 1, 2010. JPCRD, which AIP publishes for NIST, is an authoritative resource for critical, evaluated reference data for the physical science and engineering communities.

AIP's TV news on the fringe
Credit: Nasa.gov The writers of the hit TV show Fringe are using information from AIP's Discoveries and Breakthroughs Inside Science, which provides syndicated news segments for local TV. Fringe mostly deals with unusual or speculative science, but a recent episode took inspiration from the real world—in fact, from an AGU meeting presentation. Fox describes the plot of the episode, entitled "Earthling," this way: "At the lab, Walter (the show's physicist) has learned that it's not radiation that is killing the cosmonaut; instead, the radiation is what he's after. All five victims were undergoing radiation treatment, and another victim had recently been on an airplane and had likely received radiation from the sun's rays."

Because of AIP's relationship with the show's writers, we know that they learned this tidbit through our DBIS segment "Flying and Radiation Risk."

Worlds within worlds
On the evening of Monday, November 16, the American Center for Physics hosted its semiannual art reception. The brand-new exhibit Worlds Within Worlds, which focuses on the intricate play between art and science, features the photographs of Andrew Ilachinski, the paintings of Cynthia Padgett, and the sculptures of Julian Voss-Andreae. The event was a runaway success, with dozens of members of the scientific and artistic communities coming together to celebrate the natural connections between the two fields. After an introduction by art curator Sarah Tanguy, the two artists in attendance, Andrew Ilachinski and Cynthia Padgett, spoke about their work and took questions from the audience. Background music was provided by students from the University of Maryland music department.

Governing Board members converse with artist Cynthia Padgett.  From the left: Tim Cohn (AGU), Cynthia Padgett, Liz Rogan (OSA), Bruce Curran (AAPM). The evening was capped when Fred Dylla, AIP Executive Director and CEO, recognized and introduced Dr. John C. Mather, 2006 Nobel Laureate, to the ACP community. Mather, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his precise measurements of the primordial heat radiation of the Big Bang, has worked with AIP to establish the Mather Policy Intern Program, an endowed program which will send two undergraduate physics majors to Washington each summer, where they will work with members of Congress and other federal agencies on the formulation of science policy.

Worlds Within Worlds will be on display in the first-floor rotunda, conference rooms, and hallways until April 16, 2010.

Journal production databases migrated to Linux
Continuing the move to a virtual server/Linux environment, Business Systems and Operations converted two more production databases in early November. Database administrators upgraded the METS and SPIN databases to Oracle version 11g and moved the platform from Sun/Solaris to Intel/Linux. The standby/failover versions of these databases at our remote data center were kept in sync with their local counterparts during the migration, which ensured disaster recovery protection throughout the process. The Linux platform provides substantial savings in licensing and maintenance costs. Staff from BS&O, Informatics, and Publishing Technology were on hand to verify the upgraded databases and their integration with systems and services within the institute. Thanks to all who worked hard to make this project a success.

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For past issues of this newsletter, visit the AIP Matters archives.