By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO
Many societies, common issues
Last Thursday AIP brought the extended AIP family of organizations together for the 2010 Assembly of Society Officers. The Assembly is an annual event that brings together officers and staff leaders of the Member and Affiliated Societies to discuss topics of concern to scientific professional societies. This year, more than 110 representatives and staff participated, and the discussions did not disappoint. The first session, chaired by SOR vice president Jeff Giacomin, addressed social networking. Social networking platforms, said AIP director of Business Development Terry Hulbert, are experiencing the "network effect"—a term initially applied to the adoption of the telephone—growing slowly at first and then exploding to popular use. In fact, during the second week of March, Facebook exceeded Google for the first time in the number of hits. What began as a medium for purely personal interactions is now increasingly becoming used on the professional level as well. Niche networking sites (such as AIP UniPHY) catering to various professional communities offer ways to connect to a wider but targeted audience on issues of concern. Ann Michael, president and principal of DeltaThink, said that scientific societies have a definite role to play in this arena. Our mission statements and goals confirm our commitment to connecting our communities, communicating science, and disseminating scientific information. Social networking can be one effective means for accomplishing these objectives. Her advice: Test the waters, become familiar with existing platforms, develop a strategy, dedicate resources, and measure the impact. Greg Tananbaum, founder and CEO of Anianet Inc., rounded off the session with a specific example of how his company is using social networking to connect the Chinese and Western research communities. He addressed such questions as "Why China?" One reason: China is on course to surpass the United States in research output in less than 10 years. We need to pay attention.
Kate Kirby, executive officer of APS, chaired the second session on scientific citizenship and advocacy, which focused on what professional societies can and should do to advance science issues in the nation. AIP's Governing Board chair, Lou Lanzerotti, led off the session from a grass-roots perspective, credentialed as Town Council member and past mayor of Harding Township, NJ. He asserted that to vote is not enough. Many issues on the local, state, and national levels merit scientific input. Individual scientists have easily available opportunities to impact issues in their local communities. What can scientific societies do? We can educate members on the importance of advice to local governments, identify active members, and ask them to engage, expand public affairs committees to address state and local approaches, and include local public affairs issues in regional meetings. Ken Miller of Brown University provided specific examples of why the scientific community cannot afford to sit on the sidelines of public debates. Miller was a key figure in the Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District trial, which discredited the intelligent design theory's legitimacy in the science curriculum. Despite that success in the courtroom, anti-evolutionism is winning the battle for public opinion. (NOVA's "Intelligent Design on Trial" provides an excellent synopsis.) Miller also pointed out that if one area of science comes under attack, the anti-science bias can spill over to other areas of science— a prime example is the recent controversy surrounding global warming data. Miller advocates that scientific societies encourage their members to speak up for science, embrace the popularization of science, and cultivate effective science communicators. For an effective example see Miller on the Colbert Report.
The third session addressed the report of the Scholarly Publishing Roundtable. Dahlia Sokolov, staff director of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, House Committee on Science and Technology, explained the impetus for assembling the roundtable—both sides of the public access debate were becoming increasingly polarized and the federal government was reluctant to move forward on developing public access policies for scholarly publications without more constructive guidance from all the involved stakeholder groups. AIP Matters has reported on this and issues surrounding public access on several occasions—most recently in the January 12 issue. Four roundtable members led the assembly discussion: John Vaughn, Scholarly Publishing Roundtable chair and executive vice president of the Association of American Universities; Fred Dylla, executive director and CEO of AIP; David Campbell, Boston University provost and editor-in-chief of Chaos; and Ann Okerson, associate university librarian of Yale University. As representatives of the university administration, library, and publishing communities, they were able to elaborate on their initially divergent perspectives and explain how they found common grounds on which to posit recommendations that most of the group could support. For their recommendations, see the overview presentation on the assembly site (which contains all the visual presentations prepared for the assembly) or read the roundtable report.
In the final session, past and present congressional science fellows of AIP and our Member Societies focused on the issues of national priority and how they fit into the legislative priorities of Congress. ASA executive director Charles Schmid—and former fellow—expressed his support for such fellows programs. Reinforcing the advice from speakers in the second session, he reminded the audience that the fellowships' goal is to bring science and scientists into the legislative and decision making processes. Dahlia Sokolov summarized her real-time activity—completion of the draft bill authorizing the NSF budget for FY 2011, which was released by her office on Friday. Sokolov also spoke about the so-called "broader impact" requirements of NSF grants, which require grantees to engage in related educational or outreach activity. AGU congressional fellow Maeve Boland, of Senator Byron L. Dorgan's office, spoke about draft legislation on climate and energy, which centers on capping carbon emissions and setting renewable energy standards. Philip "Bo" Hammer, associate executive officer of AAPT, summarized how several societies are working together to effect legislation for the advancement of science and math education policy. The two largest opportunities are providing input for the America COMPETES reauthorization act and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Kathryn Clay, director of research for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, wrapped up the session with insights on industry's stake in science policy, its implications for the S&T workforce and the R&D enterprise, and how industry can effectively engage.
Judging from the active engagement of the assembly audience and our exit poll of the attendees, the 2010 event was worth the day's investment.
Students consulted for product enhancement
AIP is proud to announce the launch of its Student Researcher Forum, which will conduct focus groups to gather feedback on AIP products and services from the next generation of researchers, scientists, and faculty. The group's ultimate goal is to introduce AIP products and innovations to young researchers so that they become life-long contributors to our journals. AIP will be conducting ongoing focus groups at local universities and one-day focus groups at universities in cities where staff travel to attend scientific research conferences.
The first student researcher focus group was held on February 25 at Stony Brook University. Devinder Mahajan, associate editor of AIP's Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, played an integral part in pulling together this group of students from the physics, chemistry, and materials science and engineering departments. The topic for this first session was AIP UniPHY. Marketing manager Mary Griffin gave an overview of AIP and explained the purpose of the forum, and product manager Chris Iannicello introduced the students to AIP UniPHY and its many new features. Participants agreed that AIP UniPHY could be very useful in assisting them with their research and collaborative efforts, and provided about a dozen suggestions of features they would like to see added to AIP UniPHY—some of which may be considered in the next release. The same group also convened last week for another session, led by senior product manager Alison Loudon, who discussed editorial topics related to the editorial process, including paper submission and peer-review. A third session will take place in late April with a representative from Online Services presenting.
Physics Today Career Network thanks partners, manages job fair
Physics Today publisher Randy Nanna and Career Network manager Bonnie Feldman recently met with the staff of the IEEE Computer Society (IEEECS) at its headquarters in Los Alamitos, CA, to thank them for their partnership in the Physics Today Career Network (PTCN). PTCN works closely with IEEECS to promote the society's online job board to its 85,000 members and to the computing community. Career Network hosted similar appreciation lunches with College Park based partners AAPT and APS.
In February, Physics Today Career Network managed the job fair during the 2010 APS/AAPT Joint Meeting in Washington, DC. Participating employers included Los Alamos National Laboratory, the US Naval Research Laboratory, the US Army Research Laboratory, and Tutor.com. Some 235 job seekers participated, and 80 were interviewed on site; 117 jobs were posted for the event. The joint gathering proved to be a success, as it attracted diverse participants who typically attend either the AAPT Winter Meeting or the APS April Meeting.