The American Physical Society is a not-for-profit scientific and educational organization whose purpose is the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics for the benefit to all humanity. To attain this objective, the APS publishes of some of the world’s premier physics journals, conducts meetings for the presentation of cutting-edge physics research, and develops outreach programs in physics education. The APS promotes equity of educational and employment opportunity in physics; and communicates with the public and policymakers on physics- and science-related.
As a field of science, physics is very international in nature. One would be hard pressed to find a physicist in any country whose work does not require that he/she collaborate with colleagues abroad. Most physicists must travel abroad to attend conferences to learn about the latest breakthroughs in their field or to conduct research at one of only a few particle accelerators in the world, for example. In fact, approximately 22% of 43,000 APS members reside outside of the United States. Thus, the Society has an obligation to address the concerns of physicists worldwide. The goals of the APS international programs are to ensure that the international physics community has access to APS journals, and to encourage and maintain interactions between physicists in the U.S. and colleagues worldwide.
Ensuring that international colleagues and students who plan to do research or attend conferences or graduate school in the United States are able to do so is of paramount importance to the APS. Over the past few years, many students and colleagues have been unable to travel to the U.S., or have encountered obstacles, due to increased security and scrutiny of visa applications that has caused delays in the visa processing system. In May, the APS joined more than 20 other scientific and higher education organizations in endorsing a statement that calls for changes to the system.
The APS Forum on International Physics (FIP) recently created a Travel Grant Award Program to support collaborations between physicists in the U.S. and developing countries. FIP recognizes that identifying funding to support international collaborations can be difficult. It is hoped that the Travel Grant Award Program will help promote these collaborations.
In 2003, the Canadian Association of Physicists, the APS and the Mexican Physical Society organized the first joint Canadian, U.S., and Mexican physical societies graduate student conference (CAM2003), which was held in Marida, Mexico. The meeting was aimed at generating exchange among physics graduate students, to develop collaborations among young scientists within the North American continent, and to expose graduate students to sub-disciplines of physics beyond their individual research areas. The conference was planned and organized solely by graduate students from the three societies, and it fostered the communication and the exchange of ideas among students in ways traditional scientific conferences cannot support. Due to the success of the conference, a second conference is being organized. CAM2005: “Physics Knows No Borders will be held in August 2005 in San Diego.
With respect to capacity development issues, the APS is currently developing programs to strengthen its cooperation with scientists in developing countries, particularly the Middle East and Africa. Specifically, the Society is working with the Physics Education Program Committee of the World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development, which will be held in Durban, South Africa, 31 October – 2 November 2005. The goal of the Physics Education Program Committee is to formulate action-oriented plans for how the international physics community can act to improve teacher training and access to materials and plans (among other issues) in developing countries.
In the area of science and sustainable development, as mentioned above, the APS is helping to organize the World Conference on Physics and Sustainable Development. The Conference will review the contributions that physics has made to society in the past and formulate a plan for concrete contributions that the international physics community can make in future. In particular, the Conference will focus on: 1) Physics Education, 2) Energy and Environment, 3) Physics and Economic Development, and 4) Physics and Health.
On a broader level towards sustainable development, the APS works to ensure that its journals are accessible worldwide. The Society makes its journals available in developing countries through a number of different programs: 1) the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) CD ROM distribution program; 2) the ICTP eJournals Delivery Service, which provides individual scientific articles via email to scientists that are unable to download material in a timely manner or cannot afford the journals; and 3) the Open Society Institute’s Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL) program that provides low-cost access to electronic scholarly literature in countries that have typically not had access to such information.
The American Physical Society’s Matching Membership Program makes APS membership available to physicists living in developing and hard-currency-poor countries. Through this Program, individuals residing in eligible countries may apply for a reduced-cost membership. Matching Membership is available in one of two categories: 1) Sponsored in which a half-price membership is made available to those who have an individual or institution who will sponsor them and provide payment, and 2) Fund in which applicants who are unable to pay and who do not have a sponsor may request APS support. They receive a graduated, reduced-cost membership beginning at 20% of the full membership rate in the first year.
While not aimed specifically at scientists from developing countries, the Society’s John Wheatley Award honor[s] and recognize[s] the dedication of physicists who have made contributions to the development of physics in countries of the third world.
2005 APS Meetings
April 16-19, 2005, Tampa, FL 2005
2006 APS Meetings