AIP | Matters
-- -- April 23, 2012

Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

Bringing science back to Vietnam

Jean Tran Thanh Van wins the 2011 Tate Medal for international leadership in physics. Jean Trân Thanh Vân, or simply "Van" among his friends and acquaintances, left his home country at the age of 17 to escape the Vietnam War. He went to France to pursue a career in physics, which was his dream. His accomplishments in theoretical particle physics would suffice to categorize his career as successful, yet perhaps most influential has been his tireless efforts on behalf of the scientific community. Professor Van and his wife, Kim, broadened international participation in particle physics, astrophysics, and biology. Moreover, they were instrumental in bringing higher education, scholarship, and science back to a war-torn Vietnam. Earlier this month, it was my pleasure to present Jean Trân Thanh Vân with the prestigious Tate Medal for international leadership in physics.

From the right, APS President Robert Byer, Fred Dylla, and APS Past President Barry Barish congratulate Professor Van for his lifetime achievements with the 2011 Tate Medal. Courtesy of APS; photo by Ross DeLoach. Professor Van obtained undergraduate and graduate degrees in mathematics and physics and established a career in particle physics in the mid-1960s, when this field was bursting with the first key experimental results on the quark structure of the proton and the theoretical foundations of the now "standard model" of particle physics. Shortly after getting his doctoral degree, Professor Van began organizing workshops in Paris ("Rencontres") between groups of experimentalists and theoreticians from various nations to discuss frontier problems, without regard for international or political barriers. Some of the first meetings, held during the height of the Cold War, provided forums for Western and Soviet scientists to meet and interact.

In the early 1990s, when Vietnam started to recover from decades of war and to reopen to the rest of the world, Van and Kim began a now two-decades-old campaign to bring science back to Vietnam.

John Tate. Photo Credit ESVA. Physics Today Collection. AIP established the Tate Medal in 1959 in honor of John "Jack" Tate for his role in broadening international participation in physics in the post-World War II era. Tate served as APS president in 1939, as editor for APS' Physical Review for several years, helped to found AIP in 1931, and served as board chairman from 1936 to 1939.

The Tate Medal is not always given at regular intervals, as the peer-selection committee sets a high bar for honorees. After meeting and spending time with this year's winner, I am convinced that the Tate Committee recognized that Professor Van's world-changing achievements especially exemplify the spirit for which this award was intended.

After Professor Van received his award during the APS April Meeting awards ceremony, I was invited to an informal dinner hosted by Van and Kim for their family and friends from the Depiction of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Sciences and Education in Qui Nhon, Vietnam, to open in 2013. A project of the Rencontres du Vietnam chaired y Jean Tran Thanh Van. physics community. I was able to learn more about Van and his colleagues' dedication to what they view as their "last project" before they turn it over to the next generation. Many years of behind-the-scenes work with friends, colleagues, diplomats, and bureaucrats will have a remarkable payoff next summer when the International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education opens up in Qui Nhon, a beautiful coastal town in Vietnam with two nearby universities.

I expect that the Vans will continue to receive considerable support from many members of the international physics community in identifying financial and human capital that will help bring this center to life and sustain it.
Publishing Matters

New materials science journals will soon join AIP's portfolio

From the April 10 press release: Two new open access journals will join the distinguished ranks of publications produced by AIP later this year. The journals—JAP Materials and APL Materials—will be affiliated with AIP's two premier applied physics journals, Journal of Applied Physics (JAP) and Applied Physics Letters (APL), and will feature research on materials, their functions, and their potential applications.

Articles will undergo a thorough peer review process overseen by an editor and an international team of associate editors. Likewise, the journals will emulate their parent publications in scope:
  • JAP Materials will provide in-depth coverage on the full breadth of research related to materials science, with a focus on significant new theoretical and experimental discoveries.
  • APL Materials will feature original research on significant topical issues within the field of materials science, but as a Letters journal it will also emphasize the timeliness of this research.

NAIP exhibits journals at two California conferences

Representatives from AIP Publishing traveled to the West Coast recently for two AIP-affiliated society meetings: the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Diego, and the Materials Research Society (MRS) in San Francisco.

Approximately 850 attendees stopped by the Journal of Chemical Physics (JCP) booth at the ACS meeting last month. In addition to handing out copies of the newly printed "JCP 2011 Editors' Choice" booklets and flyers announcing JCP's new Advanced Experimental Techniques section, AIP Publishing held a raffle for the new iPad. The winner was a UCLA professor who has published frequently in JCP.

Earlier this month, AIP Publishing announced the impending launch of APL Materials and JAP Materials on the opening day of the MRS conference. Many AIP authors stopped by the exhibit booth to talk about their experiences publishing in AIP journals, and the feedback was positive. The booth also held a daily Xbox Kinect competition with a $25 iTunes gift card prize; attendees enjoyed playing, or watching those courageous enough to play.
Physics Resources Matters

Career Network gives 'em something (good) to talk about

Career Network (CN) works directly with organizations recruiting scientists and engineers when they post relevant job openings on Physics Today Jobs and other CN-managed job sites. Any feedback from them—good or bad—is extremely valuable, as it aids greatly in refining the job-posting process, alerts staff to unknown technical issues, influences product offerings and pricing, and gives an overall picture of a hiring employer's user experience.

Employers that relate their positive hiring experience to CN staff are often willing to provide an official success story for the website. Employers new to Career Network use these testimonials to see which similar employers are recruiting with the service, and past users' affirming experiences help to generate new business. See the website for a complete catalog of CN success stories.
Member Society Spotlight

APS celebrates "100 Years of Cosmic Ray Physics"

The APS 2012 April Meeting took place in Atlanta, GA, but it was indeed out of this world. Particle physicists, nuclear physicists, and astrophysicists celebrated the centenary of cosmic ray physics, the overall theme for this year's meeting.

AIP Education held two oral sessions for students and supported the student poster sessions. They also participated in a graduate career panel and student social events. In the image below, students celebrate an excellent session of talks on undergraduate research and outreach. SPS's Kendra Redmond, second from the left, gave a talk, "Making Time for Spacetime: The Story of a National Science Café." Gary White and Tom Olsen helped to facilitate the student events and judged the sessions. Bo Hammer of the Physics Resources Center attended the APS Forum on Education Executive Committee meeting.

One highlight for Greg Good of the History Center was the chance to conduct a long oral history interview with Ed Gerjuoy, who did his PhD under Oppenheimer at Berkeley. Greg reports, "Ed was born in 1918 and has a wonderful wit and memory. I intend to interview him again at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is an emeritus professor." Good and Niels Bohr & Archives' Joe Anderson also engaged with the APS Forum on the History of Physics Executive Committee members and had fruitful conversations about how to work together to further our societies' efforts in this vein.

Steve Blau of Physics Today made some interesting connections in the press room, including Herman Winick, who first proposed the SESAME synchrotron light source, to be housed in Jordan. Winick shared a little history of how SESAME is getting up and running and expressed optimism that this scientific project will also be a force for political goodwill; it (currently) brings together nine members from the Near East, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Jim Allen of News Media Services took the opportunity to secure several guest columnists for a new department in development under the Inside Science brand—Inside Science Education—to highlight issues relevant to STEM education.

Statistical Research Center staff gave invited presentations. In a session titled HS Physics Teachers: Supply and Demand, Susan White tackled some questions such as: Does taking physics in high school impact future career paths? How well do students in different states do with respect to high school physics and preparation for STEM careers? Do high school physics teachers have physics training? In another session of the Committee for the Status of Women in Physics, Rachel Ivie presented findings from the Global Survey of Physicists.

For a better flavor of the APS April meeting, see the APS website, which points to news stories generated from the meeting and the scientific program.
Coming Up

April 23–25

  • Individual TIAA counseling sessions (Melville, NY)

Tuesday, April 24

  • Brown bag lunch: "A Year in a Solar-Powered House," 12–1 pm (College Park, MD)

Wednesday, April 25

  • ACP employee appreciation spring breakfast (College Park, MD)

April 27–29

  • 2nd Annual USA Science & Engineering Festival (Washington, DC).
    As part of the event, SPS will join forces with APS, AAPT, ASA, OSA, and the University of Maryland's MRSEC program to create a one-of-a-kind physics circus "Big Top Physics." Click here to volunteer your time at the booth.

Monday, April 30

  • EEO and harassment training (Melville, NY, and College Park, MD)