American Physical Society

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American Physical Society
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APS Physics
FormationMay 20, 1899;122 years ago (1899-05-20)
PurposeTo advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics
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The American Physical Society (APS) is a not-for-profit membership organization of professionals in physics and related disciplines, comprising nearly fifty divisions, sections, and other units. Its mission is the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of physics. [1] The society publishes more than a dozen scientific journals, including the prestigious Physical Review and Physical Review Letters , and organizes more than twenty science meetings each year. APS is a member society of the American Institute of Physics. [2] Since January 2020 the organization is led by chief executive officer Jonathan Bagger. [3]



The American Physical Society was founded on May 20, 1899, when thirty-six physicists gathered at Columbia University for that purpose. They proclaimed the mission of the new Society to be "to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics", and in one way or another the APS has been at that task ever since. In the early years, virtually the sole activity of the APS was to hold scientific meetings, initially four per year. In 1913, the APS took over the operation of the Physical Review, which had been founded in 1893 at Cornell University, and journal publication became its second major activity. The Physical Review was followed by Reviews of Modern Physics in 1929 and by Physical Review Letters in 1958. Over the years, Phys. Rev. has subdivided into five separate sections as the fields of physics proliferated and the number of submissions grew.

In more recent years, the activities of the Society have broadened considerably. Stimulated by the increase in Federal funding in the period after the Second World War, and even more by the increased public involvement of scientists in the 1960s, the APS is active in public and governmental affairs, and in the international physics community. In addition, the Society conducts extensive programs in education, science outreach (specifically physics outreach), and media relations. APS has 14 divisions and 11 topical groups covering all areas of physics research. There are 6 forums that reflect the interest of its 50,000 members [4] in broader issues, and 9 sections organized by geographical region.

In 1999, APS Physics celebrated its centennial with the biggest-ever physics meeting in Atlanta. In 2005, APS took the lead role in United States participation in the World Year of Physics, initiating several programs to broadly publicize physics during the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein's annus mirabilis. Einstein@Home, one of the projects APS initiated during World Year of Physics, is an ongoing and popular distributed computing project.

Name change proposal

During the summer of 2005, the society conducted an electronic poll, in which the majority of APS members preferred the name American Physics Society. The poll became the motivation for a proposal of a name change promised in the leadership election that year. However, because of legal issues, the planned name change was eventually abandoned by the APS Executive Board. [5]

To promote public recognition of APS as a physics society, while retaining the name American Physical Society, the APS Executive Board adopted a new logo incorporating the phrase "APS Physics." General use of APS Physics to refer to APS or the American Physical Society is encouraged. The new APS Physics logo was designed by Kerry G. Johnson. Marvin Cohen, who was then APS President, said, "I like the logo. At least now when you are in an elevator at an APS meeting and someone looks at your badge, they won't ask you about sports." [6]

APS journals

The American Physical Society publishes 13 international research journals and an open-access on-line news and commentary website Physics . [7]

All members of APS receive the monthly publication Physics Today , published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP). [8]

The Society also publishes Inside Science, part of a news service launched in 1999 to place more science stories in the media. [9] Aimed at both introducing the public to new scientific research and at correcting public misconceptions about science, the publication has editorial independence from APS itself. [10]

APS units

The American Physical Society has 47 units (divisions, forums, topical groups and sections) that represent the wide range of interests of the physics community. [11]




Topical groups

APS has the following topical groups: [11]


Physics Teacher Education Coalition

The Physics Teacher Education Coalition (PhysTEC) is a joint project of the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers , which helps universities transform their physics teacher education programs into national models. PhysTEC Supported Sites develop their physics teacher preparation programs by implementing a set of Key Components that project leaders have identified as critical to success in physics teacher preparation. The broader Coalition is a national network of institutions committed to developing and promoting excellence in physics and physical science teacher preparation. [15]

APS Bridge Program

The APS Bridge Program aims to increase the number of underrepresented minority students that earn doctoral degrees in physics. The program names doctoral and master's degree-granting institutions as Bridge Sites and awards them National Science Foundation funding to prepare post-baccalaureate students for doctoral studies through additional coursework, mentoring, research, application coaching, and GRE preparation. [16]

The APS Scholarship for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors

Formerly called the APS Corporate Sponsored Scholarship Program for Minority Undergraduate Students Who Major in Physics, this scholarship was established in 1980 with the goal of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities receiving bachelor's degrees in physics. The program provides funding and mentoring to talented students. [17]

Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics

APS Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics (APS CUWiP) are three-day regional conferences for undergraduate physics majors. The conferences aim to help undergraduate women continue in physics by providing them with the opportunity to experience a professional conference, information about graduate school and professions in physics, and access to other women in physics of all ages with whom they can share experiences, advice, and ideas. [18]

Career Center

The APS Careers in Physics website is a gateway for physicists, students, and physics enthusiasts to obtain information about physics jobs and careers. APS Careers in Physics has an award-winning job board, offers professional development advice through its website and blog, and provides links to workshops, grants, and career resources. [19]

New Faculty Workshop

APS co-sponsors a set of workshops for new physics and astronomy faculty with the American Association of Physics Teachers and the American Astronomical Society. These workshops reach nearly half of all new physics and astronomy faculty, and introduce them to current pedagogical practices, results of physics education research, and time management skills to help them begin and improve their academic careers. [20]

CSWP/COM site visits

The APS has had a long-standing interest in improving the climate in physics departments for underrepresented minorities and women. The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics (CSWP) and the Committee on Minorities (COM) both sponsor site visit programs to universities as well as national labs. [21] [22]

Education conferences

APS is a leading voice for physics education and the society sponsors a variety of conferences dedicating to helping physics education leaders stay on top of the trends in the field. Conferences include the annual Physics Department Chair Conference, a Graduate Education in Physics Conference, and a Distance Education & Online Learning in Physics Workshop. [23]

Physics Outreach

The APS Physics Outreach program focuses on "Communicating the excitement and importance of physics to everyone." As part of this effort, it maintains an educational website, PhysicsCentral; offers grants to help APS members develop educational programs; and runs the Historic Physics Sites Initiative, which identifies and commemorates important historic physics sites in the United States. [24]

Prizes and awards

The American Physical Society gives out a number of awards for research excellence and conduct; topics include outstanding leadership, computational physics, lasers, mathematics, and more.

See also

Related Research Articles

Physical Review is a peer-reviewed scientific journal established in 1893 by Edward Nichols. It publishes original research as well as scientific and literature reviews on all aspects of physics. It is published by the American Physical Society (APS). The journal is in its third series, and is split in several sub-journals each covering a particular field of physics. It has a sister journal, Physical Review Letters, which publishes shorter articles of broader interest.

Society of Physics Students

The Society of Physics Students (SPS) is a professional association with international participation, granting membership through college chapters with the only requirement that the student member be interested in physics. All college majors are welcome to join SPS, but the highest representation tends to come from majors in the natural sciences, engineering, and medicine.

American Institute of Physics

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) promotes science and the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies. Its corporate headquarters are at the American Center for Physics in College Park, Maryland, but the institute also has offices in Melville, New York, and Beijing.

Anthony Michael Johnson is an American experimental physicist, a Professor of Physics, and a Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). He is the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research (CASPR), also situated on campus at UMBC. Since his election to the 2002 term as president of the Optical Society, formerly the Optical Society of America, Johnson has the distinction of being the first and only African-American president to date. Johnson's research interests include the ultrafast photophysics and nonlinear optical properties of bulk, nanostructured, and quantum well semiconductor structures, ultrashort pulse propagation in fibers and high-speed lightwave systems. His research has helped to better understand processes that occur in ultrafast time frames of 1 quadrillionth of a second. Ultrashort pulses of light have been used to address technical and logistical challenges in medicine, telecommunications, homeland security, and have many other applications that enhance contemporary life.

Dr. Ramón E. López is a Space Physicist and author, who played an instrumental role in the implementation of a hands-on science program in the elementary and middle grades of the Montgomery County Public School System (MCPS) in Maryland. López, also leads a research group in both space physics and science education. He is the co-author of a book on space weather titled Storms from the Sun which discusses the magnetic properties of the sun, solar wind, and how these effect the magnetosphere of earth. López is the 2002 recipient of the prestigious Nicholson Medal for Human Outreach which recognizes the humanitarian aspect of physics and physicists, along with other awards. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Americal Physical Society and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Laura Greene (physicist) American physics professor

Laura H. Greene is a physics professor at Florida State University and Chief Scientist at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory. She was previously a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign [1].

Physics outreach encompasses facets of science outreach and physics education, and a variety of activities by schools, research institutes, universities, clubs and institutions such as science museums aimed at broadening the audience for and awareness and understanding of physics. While the general public may sometimes be the focus of such activities, physics outreach often centers on developing and providing resources and making presentations to students, educators in other disciplines, and in some cases researchers within different areas of physics.

Milton Dean Slaughter American physicist and professor

Milton Dean Slaughter is an American theoretical and phenomenological physicist and affiliate professor of physics at Florida International University. Slaughter was a visiting associate professor of physics in the Center for Theoretical Physics, University of Maryland, College Park while on sabbatical from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) of the University of California from 1984 to 1985. He is also chair emeritus and university research professor of physics emeritus at the University of New Orleans (UNO). Prior to joining UNO as chair of the physics department: He was a postdoctoral fellow in the LANL Theoretical Division Elementary Particles and Field Theory Group (T-8); LANL Theoretical Division Detonation Theory and Applications Group (T-14) staff physicist; LANL Theoretical Division affirmative action representative and staff physicist; LANL assistant theoretical division leader for administration and staff physicist (T-DO); LANL Nuclear and Particle Physics Group staff physicist—Medium Energy Physics Division (MP-4); and LANL Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) project manager (laboratory-wide).

Jorge Alberto López is a physicist and educator and the Schumaker Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at El Paso. He is known for his work in heavy ion collision dynamics and for his outreach to the Hispanic community in the United States to increase diversity in physics, effective teaching and mentoring of undergraduate students, development of bilingual physics education programs, and building collaborations between American and Latin American universities. He is one of the founders of the National Society of Hispanic Physicists and author of books on nuclear physics, surface science, and statistical analysis of elections.

Elizabeth H. Simmons is an American theoretical physicist, and executive vice chancellor at University of California, San Diego. Formerly, she was a distinguished professor of physics at Michigan State University, the dean of Lyman Briggs College, and the associate provost for faculty and academic staff development. She has also held positions at Harvard University and Boston University. Simmons is married to fellow physicist, R. Sekhar Chivukula. Together they have two children.

PhySH, an abbreviation for Physics Subject Headings, is a classification scheme developed by the American Physical Society (APS) as a universal classification scheme covering all branches of physics including astronomy, quantum computation, and physics education. This scheme was unveiled in January 2016. It substitutes the previous Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme (PACS) of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) and is currently the working tool for all journals of APS and all scientific Conferences and Meetings called by APS.

Mary B. James is an American physicist and educator. She is the Dean for Institutional Diversity and the A. A. Knowlton Professor of Physics at Reed College. James specializes in particle physics and accelerators.

Ágnes Mócsy Physicist

Ágnes Mócsy is a Professor of Physics at the Pratt Institute who works on theoretical nuclear physics. She is also a filmmaker, science communicator and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Heather Lewandowski American physicist

Heather Lewandowski is a Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. She looks to understand the quantum mechanical processes in making chemical bonds. She uses time-varying inhomogeneous electric fields to achieve supersonic cooling. She also studies how students learn experimental skills in instructional physics labs and help to improve student learning in these environments. She is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.

Willie S. Rockward is a Professor of Physics at Morgan State University. He works on micro-optics and laser technologies. He is the President of the National Society of Black Physicists.

M. Cristina Marchetti American physicist

Maria Cristina Marchetti is an Italian-born, American theoretical physicist specializing in statistical physics and condensed matter physics. In 2019, she received the Leo P. Kadanoff Prize of the American Physical Society. She held the William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Professorship of Physics at Syracuse University, where she was the director of the Soft and Living Matter program, and chaired the department 2007-2010. She is currently Professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Kate Page Kirby is an American physicist. From February 2015 to December 2020, Kirby was the chief executive officer of the American Physical Society (APS) and sits on the board of directors of the American Institute of Physics. Kate Kirby was elected a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1989 for her "innovative application of methods of quantum chemistry to the quantitative elucidation of a diverse range of molecular phenomena." She was made a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1996 for her contributions to physics.

Sekazi Kauze Mtingwa: is an American theoretical high-energy physicist. He is a co-recipient of the 2017 Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators. He is the first African-American to be awarded the prize. Mtingwa was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 2008 for "his definitive treatment of Intrabeam scattering, his contributions to the wakefield acceleration, and his early recognition of the fixed target physics potential of the next generation electron-positron collider." He also co-founded the National Society of Black Physicists in 1977 and served in various other national and international initiatives.

Kevin T. Pitts American physicist and professor

Kevin T. Pitts is an American high energy particle physicist. In addition to his faculty appointment at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, in 2021 he was appointed chief research officer at Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory. His research interests have included the CDF experiment and the Muon g-2 experiment at Fermilab.


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  16. "APS Bridge Program". APS Bridge Program. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
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  18. "Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  19. "APS Careers in Physics". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06.
  20. "New Physics and Astronomy Faculty Workshop". American Association of Physics Teachers. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  21. "Committee on the Status of Women in Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  22. "Committee on Minorities". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  23. "APS Education Conferences". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
  24. "Physics Outreach". Retrieved 2018-12-15.