New Year Message
A happy New Year to all! With the energy and enthusiasm that the start of a new year engenders, I have the intriguing task of reflecting on AIP and our Member Societies in 2008 and looking into our future for the coming year.
2008 was a productive year for AIP and its Member Societies even though the economic downturn in the world economy has affected our financial position and our optimism for the coming year. It made us keep a closer eye on our financial projections and reassess—either ramp up or scale back—our planned investments. Despite the negative macroeconomic conditions, AIP maintained a positive focus on its customers and the future. Thus, in line with the 2007 strategic plans, we proceeded to (1) make the necessary technological moves to strengthen our online platform, the Scitation 2.0 project; (2) develop new journals (Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy); (3) expand AIP's international presence; (4) expand Physics Today Online; and (5) contain and reduce costs in Publishing Services through vendor alliances. Collectively, we reviewed some of our most critical capabilities, such as marketing, and made appropriate short- and long-term changes in our marketing strategy, programs, and structure. AIP focused on its future by launching strategic initiatives and products that will make us stronger in 2009 and beyond. Among those, Scitation 2.0 (and its rebrand C3) deserves a mention—a multi-year upgrade of Scitation, our platform that now hosts more than 170 journals. AIP journal partners and customers are excited about this development. We have also moved to establish an AIP presence in China and India. We are starting with China, where we will most likely collaborate with a local partner.
AIP focused on sustainable high-quality programs and expertise in the Physics Resources Center. Delivering measurable value to Member Societies and the physics community were priorities. Physics Today has traditionally been one of the most visible and appreciated membership benefits. For the magazine to grow its value into the future, it needed and received strategic investment in the online product; that investment resulted in improved access to all AIP and Member Society activities by the physics community and all web users. AIP Media Relations distributed news releases and news stories covering all 10 Member Societies. The Statistical Research Center released several key reports on the health of physics as a discipline including the good news of increasing undergraduate enrollments. Discoveries and Breakthroughs in Science continued to reach millions in the TV audience, and the program is now supported by more than 20 partner organizations. AIP's Government Relations team facilitated Member Society visits to Capitol Hill and raised the visibility of scientific and publishing issues in Congress. The Education Division ran a highly visible and successful Sigma Pi Sigma Quadrennial Congress at Fermilab. The Physics Today Career Network expanded its reach into the computational world when it added a major new customer (IEEE's Computer Society). And AIP's Center for History of Physics and the Niels Bohr Library and Archives continue to serve as the worldwide resource for scholarship in history of physics. The center just released an important account on the history of physics in industry.
In 2009, we are bound to face more challenges. I mention just three . . . First, the business environment continues to be unpredictable: the worldwide instability in financial and credit markets and consequent economic recession have already affected our advertising revenue and could affect subscription revenue in 2010. Second, funding for science is hardly adequate in the face of the daunting scientific challenges in energy and climate science. And third, the clamoring for open access to scientific journals bypasses a workable business model, which negatively affects the economics of journal publishing. I call upon you to pay close attention to changes in the AIP macro environment, as well as its micro environment, and help AIP respond adequately. I am confident that together we can overcome these challenges and continue to deliver value in science.
Double the impact
Every year, the Materials Research Society (MRS) hosts a Fall Meeting for more than 5,000 international specialists in the research community. AIP takes full advantage of this opportunity to represent the strength and value of our Member Societies, affiliates, and AIP publications. Following up from initiatives discussed at marketing retreats earlier this year, AIP's marketing and publishing staff seized the opportunity to introduce a consolidated AIP "look and feel" by combining the journals and Physics Today (PT) booths into one unified presence, which proved well worth the effort. With a united booth design, we advertised PT, the new Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy (JRSE), Biomicrofluidics, and other related journal products and services. We drew visitors with give-aways such as PT "Feed Me" t-shirts, which promote RSS feeds, and JRSE's eco-friendly canvas bags with complimentary DVDs of the NOVA production "Solar Energy—Saved by the Sun." In advance of the meeting's grand opening, we used a personalized e-mail campaign to invite MRS members to visit our booth.
Buzz over ΣΠΣ Congress creates a ripple effect
College campuses, university newspapers, blogs and other press outlets are still talking about the 2008 Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma that took place November 6-8 at Fermilab. Reporter awards were given to several Society of Physics Students chapters to generate personal accounts of various aspects of the meeting and to interview the many prominent speakers. More than a dozen reports and photo collections have been sent in and posted on the Congress website.
Angelo State University students write, "We asked [speaker Jill Tarter for] advice to undergraduate students. She stressed the importance of finding something you love, and then making a career out of it. She also noted that time and discipline will always be required when working towards a specific goal. Dr. Tarter counseled us to always be humble about what we know. This last bit is important to the theme of scientific citizenship. It's important to be humble and approachable as a scientist. By doing so, offering explanation and education to those whose backgrounds differ from your own is made easier for both parties. If we keep this in mind as we traverse our careers in science, we may well be able to follow Jill Tarter's example and pique others' interests in science."
More than 70% of the 625 attendees at the congress were students, which made this meeting the largest event for physics undergraduates in the country. We hope you take a few moments to enjoy what this next generation has to say about their congress experiences and "take-aways." In addition to the student reports, visit the press page to see the other coverage from various press outlets.
Science on stage
Some people might think that physics is just about formulas, which are disconnected from feelings and emotions, but as opera devotee Maya Flikop (AIP's Director of Special Publications & Proceedings) reports, the human element is truly on display in the opera, Doctor Atomic. After first reaching the stage in October 2005 at the San Francisco Opera, Doctor Atomic premiered this fall at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Based on the book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes, the opera highlights J. Robert Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project during the two-week period before testing of the atomic bomb. As reported by Maya, Doctor Atomic is about the people—averaging 25 years of age—who lived the dilemma. Maya notes that through documentary style the audience sees the original formulas, hears the text of the original letter for petition, observes the accurately imitated sounds and flashes from the bomb ready to explode, and sees the model of the actual bomb hanging over the stage. The production captures "the genius and horror" of the creators' aspirations.
IYA celebrated at AAS meeting in Long Beach, CA
The 213th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, currently under way in Long Beach, California, kicks off the 2009 International Year of Astronomy (IYA) with a (big) bang! The meeting runs January 4-8 and has a rich scientific program, an active exhibit, and a job center. AIP's Jeff Bebee will be exhibiting for Computing in Science and Engineering (CiSE) magazine. On behalf of AIP, director of education Jack Hehn will present the Heineman Prize for Astrophysics to Andrew C. Fabian on Wednesday afternoon. The prize is awarded jointly by AIP and AAS, and is funded by the Heineman Foundation; it and recognizes outstanding work in the field of astrophysics.
Over the weekend, AAS ran IYA sessions on the Galileoscope and Hands on Optics, programs that will provide "Galileoscopes"—low cost, high optical quality telescopes—to thousands of students to recreate the famous observations of Galileo, and on the Dark Skies program, to raise public awareness of the impact of artificial lighting on local environments. Tomorrow, the U.S. astronomical community will officially open the year-long celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture by using 400-year-old light from a distant star cluster to trigger a virtual ribbon-cutting; the event is open to the public. On Wednesday, Pamela Gay of the IYA New Media working group will debut the opening of an IYA island in Second Life and will give presentations about Portal to the Universe and their 365 Days of Astronomy Podcasts. Denise Smith of NASA will unveil images from the agency's IYA program of Great Observatories, debut the Traveling Library, and give updates on the international From Earth to the Universe program. Smith will also present the integration of the NASA IYA calendar with Astronomical Society of the Pacific outreach programs such as the Night Sky Network.
Excerpted from the IYA website: "IYA will be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture, highlighted by the 400th anniversary of the first use of an astronomical telescope by Galileo Galilei. The aim is to stimulate worldwide interest, especially among young people, in astronomy and science under the central theme "The Universe, Yours to Discover." IYA2009 events and activities will promote a greater appreciation of the inspirational aspects of astronomy that embody an invaluable shared resource for all nations." In honor of IYA2009, the Society of Physics Students has adopted as its theme for the year, "A Universe of Wonder."
We wish AAS a successful meeting in sunny California and an exciting year in 2009!
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