AIP | Matters
-- -- September 30, 2013

Fred Dylla Director's Matters

By H. Frederick Dylla, Executive Director & CEO

Scientists score big with the MacArthur Foundation

Each year in September the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announces a new class of Fellows, extremely talented and motivated individuals who show remarkable potential for continued success. Fellows span many fields, but they have much in common in terms of creativity and insight, artfully applied to their particular disciplines, often challenging the boundaries or influencing the direction of future growth. Unlike the Nobel Prizes, which will be announced next week, the $625,000 awards are meant to augment the opportunities for usually mid-career professionals, enabling them to pursue their craft without stipulations.


Carl Haber. Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Scientists are always included in the mix of MacArthur Fellows, and physical scientists fared well in the 2013 selection process. Unsurprisingly, a few have tight connections with the AIP Member Societies.

Fellow Carl Haber is heralded for his audio preservation of historic sound recordings, such as those on wax-on-disc technologies, bringing the voice of Alexander Graham Bell and other cultural heritage content to new life in museums and libraries. Knowledge of high-energy physics and imaging subatomic particles might seem like an unlikely precursor to this innovation, but that's exactly what was required, and uniquely applied by Haber to succeed in this endeavor.


Ana Maria Ray. Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Awareness of his research began in 2004 in the lead-up to his presentation at the Acoustical Society of America’s 75th Anniversary Meeting in New York. AIP’s media team publicized the work in a press release and lay-language paper. Also, see the July 2004 Physics Today article, “Particle Tracking Tunes Up Music.

Fellow Ana Maria Rey’s work on optical lattices is opening new areas of research in atomic, molecular, optical, and condensed-matter physics. Rey gave a presentation on her work at the 2006 APS March Meeting, and the lay-language paper released to the press about her research was among her first publicity.


Phil Baran. Photo courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Organic chemist Phil Baran has been developing ways to synthesize natural products—compounds found in nature that have desirable properties, like the potential to treat cancer and other diseases. Baran and his colleagues work out ways to make these natural products and related molecules in abundance in the laboratory. Baran’s commitment to his work is tenacious, and he works tirelessly, according to his former colleague Jason Bardi, AIP's director of media services. I think that it’s fair to assume that we can expect more great things from Baran.

I invite you to learn more about the MacArthur Fellows of 2013, including astrophysicist Sara Seager, communications researcher Dina Katabi, statistician Susan Murphy, materials scientist Craig Fennie, paleobotanist C. Kevin Boyce, and agricultural ecologist David Lobell. You will find other fellows of the arts fascinating as well. Vijay Iyer, for instance, is an excellent example of what a scientific mind can do. Iyer is an acclaimed jazz musician and acoustical researcher. He also presented his work at a national ASA meeting; see the abstract here under Computer Jazz Improvisation.

Physics Resource Matters

Connecting with SPS chapters

Liquid Ice Cream

Liquid nitrogen ice cream and dry ice drinks make for a great SPS chapter fundraiser at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a chapter-based organization—most of its events occur at the chapter or institutional level. Regional SPS meetings (zone meetings) are held only once or twice a year in each region, and national meetings (the Quadrennial Physics Congress) are held only every four years. In order to celebrate chapter successes and share ideas, all chapters are asked to submit an annual Chapter Report detailing their activities each June. With nearly 200 chapters submitting annual reports, 2013 was a record year.

These reports are currently being reviewed by SPS staff and the SPS National Council, and several chapters from each zone will eventually be honored as SPS Outstanding Chapters on the basis of the activities detailed in their report (see the list of 2012 Outstanding Chapters here). Following are a few things we have learned so far from the 2013 reports:

  • SPS members frequently attended not only SPS-related meetings (like zone meetings), but also national meetings of AIP Member Societies.
  • SPS chapters tend to have periodic (usually weekly) meetings, and organized colloquia in their departments.
  • SPS chapters were often involved in campus celebrations centered around events (i.e., Homecoming), holidays (i.e., Halloween and Pi Day, March 14th), and other celebrations.
  • SPS chapters frequently hosted competitionsincluding but not limited to cardboard boat regattas, quadrucopter races, and rocket launches.
  • SPS members are often involved in service to their departments through tutoring and mentoring.
  • SPS chapters spend a significant amount of time raising money for their activities, through science-themed bake sales, Rent-A-Student fundraisers, Pie-a-Professor contests, and other creative activities.

In order to encourage more chapters to submit reports in 2013, SPS National held a random drawing for five $100 pizza gift cards from among the first 100 chapters to submit their reports. Chapters at Davidson College, Green River Community College, John Carroll University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Richmond enjoyed back-to-school pizza parties courtesy of SPS National!

Career Network appreciates partner contributions

On September 9, Career Network (CN) hosted an appreciation lunch at the ACP with staff from Physics Today, AAPM, APS, and SPS. This lunch served as an opportunity to bring these parties together with CN staff for a brief informational session. CN staff also reached out to its other partners in appreciation of their participation in the collaborative venture that makes CN a more substantive resource. CN works regularly with partner representatives to market their CN-managed job boards and relies on their input to improve operations.

Physics Resource Matters

SOR to host AIP Industrial Outreach event

SOR logoEvent announcement: On the evening of October 14, AIP Industrial Outreach will present a networking event in Montreal, Canada, in conjunction with the Society of Rheology Annual Meeting. Following the networking reception, panelists will discuss, Rheology in the Real World.”

Coming Up

October 2

  • ACP Blood Drive

October 4

  • AIP All-Hands Meeting (College Park)

October 6-10

  • OSA 97th Annual Meeting & Exhibit (FiO) (Orlando, FL)

October 7

  • Nobel Prize in Physics Celebration, an AIP Development event (Bethesda, MD)

October 8

  • 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics announced

October 9

  • Birthday breakfasts (College Park & Melville)

October 9-13

  • Frankfurt Book Fair 2013 (Frankfurt, Germany)

October 13-17

  • SOR 85th Annual Meeting (Montréal, Canada)
  • October 14: AIP Industrial Outreach event, “Rheology in the Real World," 6-7:30 pm

October 14

  • Open enrollment sessions (College Park)

October 16

  • Flu shot clinic, 1-4 pm (College Park)
  • AIP Publishing quarterly “WOW” ice cream social (Melville)

October 18

  • AIP Audit Committee meeting (College Park)

October 21

  • AIP Executive Committee meeting (College Park)
  • ACP Art Reception, “Intersections: Secrets of the Elements”