John (Brad) Marston: APS Vice President

Professor of Physics, Brown University
Director, Brown Theoretical Physics Center

Educational History

  • IBM Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell University (1989-91)
  • PhD, Physics, Princeton University (1989)
  • BS, Physics (with Honors), California Institute of Technology (1984)

URL for Full Bio or CV

Top 5 Honors, Awards, or Recognition

  • Fellow and Lifetime Member, American Physical Society
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow
  • National Young Investigator
  • NSF American Competitiveness and Innovation Fellow
  • APS Outstanding Referee

Most Recent APS Volunteer History

  • Division of Condensed Matter Physics (DCMP) representative on the APS Council (2016-19)
  • Member of APS Board of Directors (and Finance and Council Steering Committees) (2017-19)
  • Member of the March Meeting Task Force (2019-21)
  • Member of the Panel on Public Affairs (2022-24)
  • Member of the Physical Review E editorial board (2022-25)

Membership in Other Societies

  • American Geophysical Union

Other Relevant Experience

Chaired the advisory board of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) from 2012-2013. Served as a member of the organizing committee and later executive committee and chair line of the APS Topical Group on the Physics of Climate (GPC). Sabbaticals have been taken at MIT, Caltech, ENS de Lyon, and the KITP. Lead organizer of the 2022 Boulder Summer School for Condensed Matter and Materials Theory on “Hydrodynamics Across Scales.” Serve on the leadership team of Brown University’s new Initiative for Sustainable Energy.

Candidate Statement

It is with profound honor and humility that I accept the nomination for the position of Vice President of the American Physical Society. The APS bylaws state: "In the firm belief that an understanding of the nature of the physical universe will be of benefit to all humanity, the Society shall have as its objective the advancement and diffusion of the knowledge of physics." Physicists wield unique methods — experimental, observational, computational, and theoretical — to understand nature and make crucial contributions to both basic and applied science. The intellectual coherence of physics across scales and nature is awe inspiring. For instance there is a role for topology in particle physics, condensed matter physics, cold atomic gases and — surprisingly — even in gaseous plasmas and gravity waves in the Earth climate system (see our Kavli Symposium talks at the 2023 March Meeting).

Physics is a positive-sum game that transcends differences of opinion, background, and origin. An understanding of physics endows us with critical perspectives to address the global threats of nuclear warfare and climate change and respond to the urgent call for global equity and sustainable sources of energy. It prepares us to confront emergent challenges such as quantum information and the rapid ascendance of artificial intelligence. In times of political tension, such as during the Cold War, physics brought people together to advance not just our understanding of science but also our mutual empathy and respect. The APS plays a vital role in the evolution of physics, but it can only continue to do so if it embraces the moral imperative to welcome the full range of human diversity.

My journey in APS governance began with work to set up the thriving Topical Group on the Physics of Climate, a unit that reframes the climate not just as a problem but as a fascinating physical system. I’m particularly proud of my work with Julia Gonski on the APS Council as the member representing the Division of Condensed Matter Physics. To cultivate the next generation of APS volunteer leaders, and to increase diversity, we passed a rule requiring each unit to elect early career members to the executive committee. Further, Council Speaker Andrea Liu and I initiated the March Meeting Task Force that re-examined the structure of the meeting through direct engagement with APS members. Serving on the Board of Directors gave me an inside view of the APS including its operations, finances, and the Physical Review family of journals. My present efforts on the Panel on Public Affairs help to shape the direction of the APS Office of Government Affairs.

In an era where the scientific method is under political and ideological challenges, the APS lays a vital role by highlighting the public contributions of physicists and providing guidance to government officials. Through meetings, publications, and outreach, APS supports research and teaching, essential endeavors that we must diligently pursue. In doing so, we guarantee sustained support for physics and ensure that humanity embraces the spirit of scientific inquiry.

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John (Brad) Marston 2023 General Election

John (Brad) Marston