APS has a new forum dedicated to diversity and inclusion (announcement). This has been in the works for a while, but it’s finally approved and ready to join (for free for APS members). Join now to get in on the ground floor! Below I am copying the email I received with more details and signup instructions (sorry if the formatting is weird).
The Forum on Diversity and Inclusion (FDI) has officially been approved by APS Council as a unit.
If you would like to be among the founding members of FDI, please add the Forum to your online renewal notice or upcoming print or you may add it through your Member Profile. As a reminder, Forums are free to join!
Once signed into your profile, click on “Manage My Units”, select “Diversity and Inclusion (FDI)”, and “Add to cart.” (Adam’s note: I believe you then have to checkout, but that button can be a bit hard to find). Sign up for FDI
The objective of the Forum on Diversity and Inclusion is to support the mission of the APS by: -Working to ensure that all physicists, particularly those from historically or currently marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds or identities, will be fully included and have the opportunity to thrive within the physics community -Emphasizing, educating, and publicizing the important role of APS members and leadership in diversifying physics -Engaging stakeholders to initiate opportunities and support efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in physics FDI will encourage aligned APS Units to partner with the larger APS membership to further coordinate and advance the Unit’s work.
If you have any questions on how to join or you are an APS Life Member, please contact email@example.com.
This week, I am in Washington DC for the APS Congressional Visit Day and Annual Leadership Meeting. We started on Wednesday with the Congressional Visit. APS broke us up into teams by region. I’m a Massachusetts voter, so I joined a team of people from Massachusetts and Connecticut. We had six meetings with the offices of Massachusetts Senators Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, Connecticut Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal along with House Representatives James Himes and Rosa DeLauro.
Despite (or perhaps because of) the impeachment trial, the Senate and House office buildings were very quiet. We discussed five different issues (APS policy memos linked below). The top-billed issue was science funding . We also discussed the Keep STEM Talent Act of 2019 (addressing student visas and a path to residency for advanced STEM grads in the US) , a bill to address sexual harassment in science , fugitive methane emissions , and the crisis of liquid helium .
From reading the news, it’s easy to get the idea that policy is irreparably frozen in partisan gridlock. That is certainly true for a lot of issues, but there are also many issues where there is broad bipartisan support (science funding, for example) and other issues where members simply don’t have the information they need to make the best policy decisions. In these cases, constituent visits can make a really big difference.
There is so much I could say about this experience, but I will highlight the helium crisis because it is a good example of how visits can make a difference. Liquid helium is a critical resource for medicine, science and industry; it’s essential for cooling the magnets at the heart of MRIs. And it’s a nonrenewable resource: as it is used, it evaporates and escapes into the atmosphere, and then into space. The US Federal Helium Reserve has a roughly 10-year supply of liquid helium, but it is slated to close in September 2021. We are asking congress to keep the helium reserve open and to also extend the life of the existing helium supply by funding the deployment of recycling equipment to recapture and reuse helium. This is an important issue for science and medicine, but it’s obscure. All of the offices we spoke to were supportive, but many of them had never heard of it, or they had heard of it, but were unable to find the information they needed to develop policy. We were able to provide that information.
Thanks to the APS Office of Government Affairs staff for their hard work organizing the congressional visits, scheduling nearly 100 meetings and preparing the excellent briefing materials. Also thanks so much to my wonderful delegation: Mohammad Soltanieh-ha, Mark Shattuck, Grant O’Rielly, Nimmi Sharma and LaNell Williams!
If you’re interested in getting involved in this sort of advocacy, check out the APS Office of Government Affairs website where they describe these issues and provide very helpful links and form letters for contacting your elected officials. You can also sign up for their mailing list or check out Signal Boost, short monthly videos with science policy updates.
Today I attended an awards dinner for several APS awards. Myriam P. Sarachik received the APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research and gave a truly insightful acceptance speech and I just had to share this specific quote. She told a number of stories of the obstacles she faced to building a scientific career and how she overcame them through luck, talent and persistence. A great lesson for us all!
I was walking by the SpringerNature booth at the March Meeting and the agent I worked with (Sam Harrison) pointed out that a print copy of my dissertation was there, on display and for sale! Truly a surreal experience!
Me and my dissertation on display at the March Meeting. Thanks to Sam Harrison for taking this picture for me.
I’m about to set off to Boston for the APS March Meeting 2019 (March 4-8). I’ll be presenting my newest work on using infinite boundary conditions are current reservoirs for measuring steady-state currents in quantum wires using tensor network methods. My talk is at Wednesday 6 March at 8:48am in room 156C. If you want to chat with me at the March Meeting drop me a line.
After the March Meeting I’ll be visiting the Sandvik group at Boston University 11-20 March. I’m really looking forward to seeing all my old friends and colleagues at BU.
Established just three years ago, FECS is is dedicated to helping APS meet the unique needs of early career scientists (i.e. postdocs). Early career scientists face a number of unique challenges. They often move great distances, isolating themselves from their support networks. They have neither the protection of tenure nor the comradeship of classmates, and they often occupy temporary positions with low pay, meager benefits, and few labor protections. They must balance the pressure to publish with the constant search for their next position. All of these factors put them at an elevated risk for exploitation and harassment, the worst of which often falls upon women and minorities.
I am looking forward to working to make life better for early career scientists like myself. I want to focus especially on the problems faced by underrepresented minorities as well as mental health. In addition to my own ideas, I want to hear from you, my friends and colleagues, about issues that are facing early career scientists and ideas for how FECS might be able to address them. Please contact me or comment below with your thoughts and suggestions.
If you’re an APS member who is interested in joining FECS, you can do so for free by logging into your account on aps.org. You can also join the FECS Facebook group, even if you’re not an APS member.