Monday, July 12, 2010

H. Frederick Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

Science funding update

This is the start of an important time in Washington for physicists who look to the federal government for funding to conduct their research. In a process that is likely to be drawn out through the end of this year, the annual funding bills are starting to move on Capitol Hill. So far, so good—although there is a long way yet to go.

Every year the federal government provides several billion dollars for physics research. Congress decides annually how much taxpayer money to allocate to agencies such as the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)—which in turn fund research grants around the nation. Those decisions are reflected in the annual appropriations bills.

In late June key decision makers in the House began to write the appropriations bills for the fiscal year starting on October 1. A first version of the bill was written that will eventually fund NSF, NASA, and NIST. There is good news to report: Budgets for both NSF's and NIST's research units would remain on a doubling track with recommended increases that are in the seven percent range. Funding for NASA's science programs would increase more than five percent.

It will be many months before this bill is complete. The full House Appropriations Committee has to approve it, after which it goes to the House floor for passage. The Senate must follow the same procedure for its version of the bill. Then a final compromise bill will be written that must be passed by both chambers before it is sent to the President. Similar funding bills must also be written for the DOE Office of Science, the US Geological Survey, the Defense Department, and the National Institutes of Health, all of which provide funding for physics research. AIP will provide updates in its policy bulletin, FYI, †regarding these important bills as they make their way through Congress.

Publishing Matters

Peer X-Press gets an upgrade

Peer X-Press logo Tens of thousands of authors and reviewers each year depend on Peer X-Press (PXP) to provide the online tools they need to submit and review manuscripts for AIP's journals, as well as the four dozen other journals and conference publications that use the PXP platform. With the goal of continuous improvement in mind, the PXP team consults with its customers frequently to generate ideas for enhancements, many of which are built into successive upgrades of the platform.

The team typically upgrades the PXP platform two to three times per year; the spring 2010 release, introduced in early June, includes nearly 100 new enhancements and modifications to the software. New features streamline the author submission process, facilitate editors' search for manuscript reviewers, and help improve editorial staff job performance. Among the many valuable enhancements that are in the development pipeline for later 2010 and early 2011 are integration with UniPHY, auto-completion of institutions and keywords, TeX parsing of article metadata, management of electronic forms such as copyright, email importing, linking with membership databases, custom reports, and an iPhone application for authors to track their article through peer review.

Physics Resources Center Matters

Physics Today produces Buyers Guide video

Physics Today Buyers Guide logo Physics Today recently produced a video to promote its online Buyers Guide, a site for companies to advertise their physics equipment, components, software, and services. The "how to" video helps companies understand the value of each online enhancement. It was posted on YouTube, and the link was sent via email to more than 1000 Buyers Guide companies. As a result, 113 companies updated their Buyers Guide listing thus far, and several orders were placed. The video has also been played at Physics Today exhibitor lounges at CLEO and the annual meetings of APS and the Society of Vacuum Coaters, and it will be featured in the lounges of two upcoming conferences: SPIE Optics + Photonics and AVS.

Career Network partners with IEEE Computer Society at Interop

AIPís Justin Stewart joins Interop attendees and IEEECS staff Debbie Sims (second from right) and Marian Anderson (far right) at the IEEECS booth. Physics Today Career Network joined partner IEEE Computer Society at Interop Las Vegas 2010. Interop is an annual trade show for information technology (IT) companies. To promote the IEEECS jobs board, PTCN staff handed out LED key chains and fliers listing site statistics. The IEEECS team highlighted membership and publication specials and the group's many free online newsletters. Physics Today contributed its prize wheel, which attracted considerable traffic to IEEECS's booth. PTCN staff generated dozens of job posting leads.

Member Society Spotlight

AAPM prepares for its 52nd annual meeting

AAPM meeting banner

From the press release:

Thousands of scientists and health professionals from the field of medical physics will meet at the 52nd meeting of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine from July 18–22, 2010 in Philadelphia. They will present the latest technological advances in medical imaging and radiation therapy and discuss the safety and regulatory issues facing the field today … [and] will cover topics ranging from new ways of imaging the human body to the latest clinical developments on treating cancer with high energy X-rays and electrons from accelerators, brachytherapy with radioactive sources, and protons.

AAPM membership includes medical physicists who specialize in research that develops cutting-edge technologies, and board-certified clinical medical physicists who apply these technologies in community hospitals, clinics, and academic medical centers.

For preliminary highlights, click here.

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