AIP | Matters
-- -- October 29, 2012

Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

ACP’s tradition of celebrating art in science

shot of 3 artistsOn Tuesday evening, October 23, the American Center for Physics (ACP) hosted our biannual installation of new art for exhibition in the Center’s rotunda, conference rooms, and main hallways. For more than a decade we have benefitted from the keen eye of our exhibition curator, Sarah Tanguy, who has brought us a new trio of artists every six months who exemplify the fascinating intersection between art and science.

The new exhibit, entitled “From Here to Infinity,” brought to our senses an extraordinary group of artists: Jeffrey Kent, who works in large-format oil paintings; Yu Chen, who has turned microscopic images of biological cells into captivating and vibrant photographs; and Susan Van der Eb Greene, a sculptor with a devotion to geometry.

Jeffrey KentOver the next six months, visitors to ACP can view these works at their leisure. On the opening night of the exhibition, however, visitors are treated to an introduction by our curator and personal remarks by the artists themselves as they describe their inspiration for their work.

Kent’s oil paintings are representations of one of the most famous line of cultured cells produced in medicine—the so-called HeLa cells, grown originally from a 30-year-old victim of cervical cancer, Henrietta Lacks. The legacy of Lacks’s contribution to medical advancement was the subject of a poignant book several years ago. Her cultured cells have been used to develop treatments for cancer and antiviral vaccines. Phase contrast images of HeLa cells were the inspiration of Kent’s explosion of color and shapes that seem to take the viewer alternately from inside a cell to a telescopic image of colliding galaxies.

Dr. Yu Chen is not an artist by training; he is a physicist who made an early career change to applying various imaging techniques to biological problems. Many of his images chosen for the ACP exhibit are based on fluorescence of tagged molecules within a biological cell. The bright reds, yellows, and greens pop from a dark-field background, which again evokes comparisons with the deep cosmic images we have seen from the Hubble telescope. Yu Chen with artThe general viewer is awed by the beauty of the vibrant, imposed colors and complicated geometry of the intracellular environment. The trained biologist sees function from the illuminated form.

Sculptor Susan Greene gave a thoroughly charming account of how her career moved from science to art. As a young student, Greene was especially interested in geometry and mathematics, and this soon morphed into a love of science with her first exposure to chemistry. She admits to an innate talent for visualizing 3D images, which she parlayed into a successful career as a research chemist in industry. Susan Van der Eb Greene with artGreene was fortunate to work for a company that encouraged mid-career transitions to other fields. She chose to apply her talents in visualization to sculpture and earned a fine arts degree as a measure of her dedication.

Please take a walk around the display cases of the ACP’s rotunda and you will see shapes that tease the mind and please the eye. For those who won’t have the opportunity to visit ACP over the next six months, see Curator Sarah Tanguy’s engaging description of the work of our guest artists.

Publishing Matters

Publisher's Office fully staffed

AIP’s Publishers’ Office is now fully staffed, with the arrival of three new journal managers in the last several weeks. The Editorial Development team now comprises two directors (Alison Waldron and Alison Taylor) and four pairs of managers, each consisting of a managing editor and a journal manager. Every journal is assigned to a managing editor/journal manager pair, and each director leads two of these teams. New employees Benedetta Camarota, Jennifer Simmerer, and Stella Kafka join Dave Baker as AIP Publishing’s journal managers; Melissa Patterson, Aravind Akella, Grace Chik, and Kharissia Pettus are the four respective managing editors. These teams were created specifically to oversee and ensure the success of the journal program from the publisher’s perspective.“We are very excited to have the Publishers’ Office fully staffed so we can extend our efforts to revitalize AIP journals,” Waldron says.

AIP Publishing staff

From the left, back row: Stella Kafka, Dave Baker, Benedetta Camarota, Kharissia Pettus. Front row: Aravind Akella, Grace Chik, Melissa Patterson, and Jennifer Simmerer.

Physics Resources Matters

Flurry of activity as PhysCon approaches

The PhysCon tours of NASA Kennedy Space Center will include the industrial area, the causeway where launch pads are visible, the shuttle landing facility, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) area, and the crawlerway.

The second floor of AIP in College Park is buzzing with activity as final preparations for the 2012 Quadrennial Physics Congress (PhysCon) are completed. This meeting, hosted by the physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma (SPS), has grown to be the largest gathering of physics undergraduates in the United States, and will be the largest gathering in the history of SPS. Following are some notable highlights:

  • Eighty scientists are expected to join students for a special “Breakfast with the Scientists” event—many of these from the AIP Governing Board. Kennedy Space Center is also sending 12 scientists to this event.
  • The meeting capacity of 800 was reached more than a week before the October 15 registration deadline, and there are 44 people on a waiting list.
  • We have received more than 200 poster abstracts and art contest submissions to date.
  • There are 60 exhibitors registered for the congress exhibit, primarily physics graduate programs.
  • Twenty SPS and SPS chapters have received PhysCon Reporter Awards, providing $500 in travel assistance. In return, they will write feature articles about specific aspects of PhysCon and document their experiences with photographs.
  • Nine organizations are supporting PhysCon as sponsors, including several AIP Member Societies.
Around AIP

APS receives $3M NSF grant to help minorities pursue PhDs

[from APSNews, October 2012, Vol. 21, No. 9]
By Bushraa Khatib

APS Bridge logoIn September the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded APS $3 million in funding over the next five years to launch the APS Bridge Program (APS-BP), a national effort designed to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who receive doctoral degrees in physics. The program plans to select its first funded site and accept student applications for Fall 2013.

Underrepresented minority students, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans, earn about 10% of US physics bachelor’s degrees, yet they comprise only about 5% to 6% of US citizens who receive physics PhDs at American institutions. The main goal of the APS-BP is to roughly double the number of PhDs awarded to these students within the next ten years by developing sustainable “bridging” models to provide these students with research opportunities, advanced coursework, and mentoring, and to facilitate these students’ access to graduate programs. Also, the project will enable departments to enhance the culture of their physics graduate education so that all students have the best chance of success. Read the full story at the APSNews website.

Coming Up

October 28 –November 2

  • 59th AVS International Symposium & Exhibit (Tampa, FL)

Monday, October 29

  • Brown-bag lunch talk by Rachel Ivie, associate director of the AIP Statistical Research Center, “The Effects of Limited Resources and Opportunities on Women’s Careers in Physics: Results from the Global Survey of Physicists.” (College Park)

Tuesday, October 30

  • ACP board game brown-bag lunch. Bring a board/card game. Candy provided!

October 30–November 15

  • ACP Food Drive

November 2–4

  • AAPT/AAS/APS New Faculty Reunion meeting (College Park, MD)

November 6–11

AIP Governance meetings, SPS Governance meetings, and PhysCon (Orlando, FL)

  • November 6, AIP Executive Committee meeting
  • November 7, AIP Governing Board meeting and SPS Council meeting
  • November 8, PhysCon tours of Kennedy Space Flight Center
  • November 8–10, Quadrennial Physics Congress of Sigma Pi Sigma
  • November 11, SPS Executive Committee meeting

Wednesday, November 14

  • Staff birthday breakfasts (Melville and College Park)

Thursday, November 15

  • ACP Annual Harvest Breakfast