American Physical Society

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American Physical Society
Logo of aps.jpg
APS Physics
Abbreviation APS
Formation May 20, 1899; 119 years ago (1899-05-20)
Type Scientific
Purpose To advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics

The American Physical Society (APS) is the world's second largest organization of physicists. 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.[1]


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[2] 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[edit]

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.[3]

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."[4]

APS journals[edit]

The American Physical Society publishes 13 international research journals and an open-access on-line news and commentary website Physics.[5]

  • Physical Review Letters (PRL)
  • Reviews of Modern Physics (RMP)
  • Physical Review A (PRA): Atomic, molecular and optical physics.
  • Physical Review B (PRB): Condensed matter and materials physics.
  • Physical Review C (PRC): Nuclear physics.
  • Physical Review D (PRD): Particles, fields, gravitation, and cosmology.
  • Physical Review E (PRE): Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics.
  • Physical Review X (PRX): Open access; pure, applied, and interdisciplinary physics.
  • Physical Review Applied (PRApplied): Experimental and theoretical applications of physics.
  • Physical Review Fluids (PRFluids): Fluid dynamics.
  • Physical Review Accelerators and Beams (PRAB): Open access; accelerator science and technology.
  • Physical Review Physics Education Research (PRPER): Open access; experimental and theoretical research on physics education.
  • Physical Review Materials (PRMaterials): A broad-scope international journal for the multidisciplinary community engaged in research on materials.

All members of APS receive the monthly publication Physics Today, published by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).[6]

APS units[edit]

The American Physical Society has 47 units (divisions, forums, topical groups and sections) that represent the wide range of interests of the physics community.[7]


  • Astrophysics (DAP)
  • Atomic, Molecular & Optical Physics (DAMOP): The objective of the division is the promotion of the fundamental research on atoms, simple molecules, electrons and light, and their interactions. Historically, this is the oldest division of the American Physical Society. It was created in 1943. The division manages a number of prestigious awards for AMO scientists at various stages of their careers, such as the Davisson-Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics, Rabi Prize in AMO Physics, Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in AMO Physics, Herbert P. Broida Prize, etc. It also organizes annual DAMOP Meetings attended by many leading AMO researchers, both from the United States and abroad.
  • Biological Physics (DBIO): With over 2,000 members,[8] the division is the second largest learned society in the world devoted to biological physics, following the Biophysical Society. The objective of the division is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge on the broad interface of physics and biology. This includes studying biological phenomena with physics tools and identifying new physics questions within biological contexts. The division supports a program of over 600 (as of 2016) presentations at the annual March Meeting of the APS, on topics ranging from protein biophysics, to neuroscience and evolution. It promotes research and development of biological physics, enhanced the standing of the field, and recognizes important contributions to the field, such as by awarding the Max Delbruck Prize in biological physics.[9]
  • Chemical Physics (DCP)
  • Computational Physics (DCOMP): The division has more than 2,000 members, and the objective of the division is the advancement and dissemination of knowledge regarding the use of computers in physics research and education. This includes, among other areas, their application to experiments, theory, and education as well as the application of physics to the development of computer technology. This division provides to its members an opportunity for coordination and a forum for discussion and communication. In addition, the division promotes research and development in computational physics; enhances prestige and professional standing of its members; encourages scholarly publication; and promotes international cooperation in these activities.[10]
  • Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP)
  • Fluid Dynamics (DFD)
  • Gravitational Physics (DGRAV)
  • Laser Science (DLS)
  • Materials Physics (DMP)
  • Nuclear Physics (DNP)
  • Particles and Fields (DPF)
  • Physics of Beams (DPB)
  • Plasma Physics (DPP)
  • Polymer Physics (DPOLY)
  • Quantum Information (DQI)


  • Education (FEd)
  • Early Career Scientists (FECS)
  • Graduate Student Affairs (FGSA)
  • History of Physics (FHP)
  • Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP)
  • International Physics (FIP)
  • Outreach and Engaging the Public (FOEP)
  • Physics and Society (FPS)


  • Far West Section (FWS)
  • Four Corners (4CS)
  • Mid-Atlantic (MAS)
  • New England (NES)
  • New York State (NYSS)
  • Northwest (NWS)
  • Ohio-Region (OSAPS)
  • Prairie Section (PSAPS)
  • Southeastern (SESAPS)
  • Texas (TSAPS)

Topical groups[edit]

APS has the following topical groups:[7]

  • Energy Research and Applications (GERA)
  • Few-Body Systems (GFB)
  • Hadronic Physics (GHP)
  • Instrument and Measurement Science (GIMS)
  • Magnetism (GMAG)
  • Medical Physics (GMED)
  • Physics Education Research (GPER)
  • Physics of Climate (GPC)
  • Plasma Astrophysics (GPAP)
  • Precision Measurement & Fundamental Constants (GPMFC)
  • Quantum Information (GQI)
  • Shock Compression of Condensed Matter (SHOCK)
  • Soft Matter (GSOFT)
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics (GSNP)


Physics Teacher Education Coalition[edit]

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.[11]

APS Bridge Program[edit]

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.[12]

The APS Scholarship for Minority Undergraduate Physics Majors[edit]

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.[13]

Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics[edit]

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.[14]

Career Center[edit]

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.[15]

New Faculty Workshop[edit]

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.[16]

CSWP/COM site visits[edit]

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.[17] [18]

Education conferences[edit]

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. [19]

Prizes and awards[edit]

Andrei Sakharov Prize[edit]

The Andrei Sakharov Prize was established to recognize "outstanding leadership and/or achievements of scientists in upholding human rights." The prize is named in recognition of the courageous and effective work of the Soviet nuclear physicist Andrei Sakharov on behalf of human rights, to the detriment of his own scientific career and despite the loss of his own personal freedom.[20]

Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics[edit]

The Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics was established in 1992 with support from IBM Corporation. It recognizes outstanding work in computational physics. It is awarded annually with a value of $5000 and is open to scientists of all nationalities. The winner delivers the Rahman lecture.[21]

APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research[edit]

The APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research was established in 2016 to recognize contributions of the highest level that advance our knowledge and understanding of the physical universe. The medal carries with it a prize of $50,000 and is the largest APS prize to recognize the achievement of researchers from across all fields of physics. It is funded by a generous donation from Jay Jones, entrepreneur. Recipients to date are Edward Witten (2016) and Daniel Kleppner (2017).[22]

Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science[edit]

The Arthur L. Schawlow Prize in Laser Science is an annual award established in 1991 to recognize outstanding contributions to basic research which uses lasers to advance the knowledge of the fundamental physical properties of materials and their interaction with light.

Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics[edit]

The Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics is awarded annually to recognize outstanding publications in the field of mathematical physics.

David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics[edit]

The David Adler Lectureship Award in the Field of Materials Physics is a prize that has been awarded annually by the American Physical Society since 1988. The recipient is chosen for being "an outstanding contributor to the field of materials physics, who is noted for the quality of his/her research, review articles and lecturing." The prize is named after physicist David Adler with contributions to the endowment by friends of David Adler and Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. The winner receives a $5,000 honorarium.

Davisson–Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics[edit]

The Davisson–Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics is an annual prize for "outstanding work in atomic physics or surface physics". The prize is named after Clinton Davisson and Lester Germer, who first measured electron diffraction.[23]

Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy & Dynamics[edit]

The Earle K. Plyler Prize for Molecular Spectroscopy is awarded annually to recognize notable contributions to the field of molecular spectroscopy and dynamics.

Edward A. Bouchet Award[edit]

The Edward A. Bouchet Award was established in 1994 by the APS Committee on Minorities in physics to recognize and honor distinguished underrepresented minority physics researchers who have made significant contributions to physics research. This lectureship provides funding for Award recipients to conduct visits to institutions where the impact on minority students is significant, to deliver technical or topical lectures, and in some cases, to conduct informal discussions with faculty and students.[24]

Fluid Dynamics Prize[edit]

The Fluid Dynamics Prize is a prize that has been awarded annually by the society since 1979. The recipient is chosen for "outstanding achievement in fluid dynamics research". As of 2007 the prize is valued at $10,000. In 2004, the Otto Laporte Award, another APS award on fluid dynamics, was merged into the Fluid Dynamics Prize. [25]

Hans A Bethe Prize[edit]

The Hans Bethe Prize is presented annually to recognize outstanding work in theory, experiment or observation in the areas of astrophysics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, or closely related fields.

Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics[edit]

The Irving Langmuir Award is awarded in odd-numbered years to recognize outstanding interdisciplinary research in chemistry and physics. In even-numbered years it is awarded by the American Chemical Society.

J. J. Sakurai Prize[edit]

The J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics is presented by the American Physical Society at its annual April Meeting, and honors outstanding achievement in particle physics theory. The prize, considered one of the most prestigious in physics, consists of a monetary award, a certificate citing the contributions recognized by the award, and a travel allowance for the recipient to attend the presentation. The award is endowed by the family and friends of particle physicist J. J. Sakurai. The prize has been awarded annually since 1985.[26]

James Clerk Maxwell Prize[edit]

The James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics was established in 1975 by the Maxwell Technologies, Inc., in honor of the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. The prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of plasma physics. The prize consists of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contributions made by the recipient. The prize is presented annually.[27]

Joseph F. Keithley Award For Advances in Measurement Science[edit]

The Joseph F. Keithley Award For Advances in Measurement Science recognizes physicists who have furthered the development of measurement techniques or equipment for the physics community that provides better measurements. Starting in 1998, the annual award consists of a $5,000 award and certificate.[28]

Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize[edit]

APS has awarded the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize annually since 1989, excepting 2002. The purpose of the prize is to recognize outstanding contributions to physics. Among the recipients are Michael Berry, Alan Guth, Stephen Hawking, and Frank Wilczek.[29]

Lars Onsager Prize in Statistical Physics[edit]

The Lars Onsager Prize recognizes outstanding research in theoretical statistical physics including the quantum fluids. The prize consists of $10,000 as well as a certificate citing the contribution made by the recipient. It is presented annually, beginning in 1997. The prize was endowed in 1993 by Drs. Russell and Marian Donnelly in memory of the unique spirit of Lars Onsager and his passion for analytical results.

Leroy Apker Award[edit]

The Leroy Apker Award was established in 1978 to recognize outstanding achievements in physics by undergraduate students. Two awards are presented each year, one to a student from a Ph.D. granting institution, and one to a student from a non-Ph.D. granting institution.

Maria Goeppert Mayer Award[edit]

The Maria Goeppert Mayer Award recognizes and enhances outstanding achievements by women physicists in the early years of their careers and provides opportunities for them to present these achievements to others through public lectures.[30]

Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics[edit]

The Max Delbruck Prize recognizes and encourage outstanding achievement in biological physics research, and is one of the most prestigious international prizes in biological physics. It is awarded annually with a prize of $10000.[31]

Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize[edit]

The Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize is an annual prize with an award of $20,000 for "outstanding theoretical or experimental contributions to condensed matter physics". The prize is named after Oliver Ellsworth Buckley, a former president of AT&T Bell Laboratories, which endowed the prize in 1952.[32]

Panofsky Prize in Experimental Particle Physics[edit]

The Panofsky Prize is an annual prize given to recognize and encourage outstanding achievements in experimental particle physics.

Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics[edit]

The Tom W. Bonner Prize in Nuclear Physics is an annual prize awarded by the Division of Nuclear Physics to recognize outstanding experimental research in nuclear physics. It was established in 1964.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AIP member societies". Archived from the original on 2011-12-13. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  2. ^ "APS Membership Soars Above 50,000 Benchmark". American Physical Society. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Tretkoff, Ernie (November 2005). "Legal, Financial Issues Impact APS Name Change Decision". APS News. American Physical Society. 14 (10). Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Tretkoff, Ernie (January 2006). "What's in a Logo?". APS News. American Physical Society. 15 (1). Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "APS Journals". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2014-05-20. 
  6. ^ "Physics Today". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2015-02-18. 
  7. ^ a b "APS Units". Membership. American Physical Society. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Membership Statistics" (PDF). Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "APS DBIO". Retrieved 12 Oct 2014. 
  10. ^ "APS DCOMP". Retrieved 15 July 2013. 
  11. ^ "Physics Teacher Education Coalition". Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  12. ^ "APS Bridge Program". APS Bridge Program. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "APS Scholarship for Underrepresented Minorities". American Physical Society. Retrieved 17 December 2013. 
  14. ^ "Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  15. ^ "APS Careers in Physics". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  16. ^ "New Physics and Astronomy Faculty Workshop". American Association of Physics Teachers. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Committee on the Status of Women in Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Committee on Minorities". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  19. ^ "APS Education Conferences". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Andrei Sakharov Prize". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  21. ^ "Aneesur Rahman Prize for Computational Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  22. ^ "APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research". Retrieved 2017-02-26. 
  23. ^ "Davisson–Germer Prize in Atomic or Surface Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 15 January 2015. 
  24. ^ "Edward A. Bouchet Award". American Physical Society. Retrieved 25 September 2013. 
  25. ^ "Fluid Dynamics Prize". American Physical Society. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  26. ^ American Physical Society. "J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics". Archived from the original on 9 November 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-23. 
  27. ^ "James Clerk Maxwell Prize". American Physical Society. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  28. ^ "Joseph F. Keithley Award For Advances in Measurement Science". American Physical Society. Retrieved 16 May 2018. 
  29. ^ "J. E. Lilienfeld Prize". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  30. ^ "Maria Goeppert Mayer Award". 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  31. ^ "Max Delbruck Prize in Biological Physics". American Physical Society. Retrieved 30 November 2014. 
  32. ^ "Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize". American Physical Society. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 

External links[edit]