Monday, March 15, 2010

Director's Matters

Cathy O'Riordan Advice from the community guides PRC programs

Guest column by: Catherine O'Riordan, vice president, Physics Resources

AIP relies on volunteers from the physical science community to advise us on our range of programs. The Physics Resources Center (PRC) alone has eight advisory committees—for Physics Today, Career Services, Education, Media Relations, Government Relations, Corporate Associates, Statistical Research, and History of Physics—which provide input on strategic planning and program direction. Each committee considers our programs in detail and makes recommendations to the Governing Board through the Physics Resources Policy Committee (PRPC). The PRPC advises the vice president of Physics Resources on priority setting for the center.

Each year—typically the first Thursday and Friday of March—most of these committees convene at ACP for a day's meeting with the division directors and staff. More than 60 volunteers attended this year's meetings. Fred Dylla and I opened with presentations on the year's most notable highlights—in both Publishing and Physics Resources—and placed a special focus on those PRC achievements that resulted from the advice of the previous year's advisory committees. Committee chairs stayed through Saturday to meet with the PRPC and bring forward the most important recommendations generated by each committee.

Several of the division directors have become adept at using this volunteer time to its fullest, and they set the tone for lively discussions. Some committees had been assigned "homework": Members had been tasked prior to the meeting with gathering feedback from their colleagues on the impact of PRC programs and then reporting this feedback to the committee in person. Volunteers were keen to share their observations and eager to hear about the accomplishments and challenges of the past year. The committees made several recommendations, which included encouraging PRC's work in diversity; focusing on statistical studies to examine the decline in percentage of African American among physics bachelor's degrees and the attrition of women from physics during their undergraduate studies; identifying potential sources of revenue for the career network; and suggesting how to use social networks to connect with students outside the US and those in two-year colleges. The committees also commended staff and management for maintaining the high quality of our programs and services through a difficult financial year, and for advancing AIP's reputation as a "trusted source" for the science community.

Advisory committee members are representatives of the community that AIP serves, and no other group is more qualified to offer us advice on how to provide the best and most effective service. Their honest and constructive feedback is invaluable and will guide us in strengthening our programs in 2010.

Publishing Matters

AIP launches eBooks site for Society of Exploration Geophysicists

SEG logo On March 5, AIP issued a press release announcing "the launch of a powerful, feature-rich new eBooks Web site for the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). The SEG eBooks site, hosted on AIP's Scitation platform, offers 35 books—including the option to purchase individual book chapters—with an additional 15 books slated for inclusion by May 2010. The eBooks are fully integrated with the SEG Digital Library so that researchers and students can search and access journals, books, and papers from SEG meetings on a single site." Paul DeCillis, AIP's director of online services remarked, "We've created a new revenue stream for SEG by repurposing their existing content and hosting it on a consolidated eBooks site. It's just one example of the added value we deliver to all our publishing partners." For more information, see the full press release.

PRC Matters

Inside Science News Service brings the "science behind the news" to the masses

Inside Science News Service (ISNS) has grown by leaps and bounds since May 2008. The service supplies editors at mainstream news outlets with newspaper-style stories that cover the latest developments in research and science policy, as well as the science behind the daily headlines—from the Winter Olympics and the earthquake in Haiti to the latest physical science research presented at Member Society meetings.

ISNS news stories have been picked up by newspapers such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the Arizona Daily Star, online news outlets such as ABC News, FOX News, and MinnPost, and veteran science editors at MSNBC, USA Today, and the Knoxville News Sentinel. We grew from producing 3 stories a week to 7.5 (with the help of APS writers Mike Lucibella and Lauren Schenkman) and from 4 stories picked up by the mainstream media to more than 130—a potential audience reach that exceeds 40 million people.

PTCN thanks AVS

Magazines publisher Randy Nanna and Physics Today Career Network (PTCN) manager Bonnie Feldman recently visited AVS headquarters in Manhattan, NY, to thank the staff for seven years of partnership. As a PTCN partner society, AVS integrates the PTCN listings into its own site, and thus offers a valuable benefit to its membership. AVS managing director Yvonne Towse (right), membership services coordinator Angela Klink (left), and the entire AVS team have been very successfully promoting the AVS job site to corporate members, student members, and show exhibitors. Their efforts in turn feed the whole network and increase its value.

We invite your feedback to this newsletter via e-mail to

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

MinnPost FOX News ABC News