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By Leah Poffenberger
To serve its diverse membership, APS provides a variety of units, divisions, and forums that gather individuals into communities with common goals or research interests. And now, APS is launching a new way for members to connect with each other within their own institutions with the advent of the APS Chapters program.
APS Chapters will be small groups, localized within interested universities and national labs, targeted specifically towards graduate students, post-docs, and early-career scientists with the goal of supporting them in their current roles and as future leaders. A pilot program launched in October is paving the way for future APS Chapters to start up next year.
“One of the things the APS is interested in is serving early career folks and connecting with them to find out how APS can support them,” says Farah Dawood, APS Chapters Program Manager. “We have many programs to address their needs, and the goal of Chapters is helping those individuals find some kind of home at their institution that has support from the APS.”
Each Chapter will have a chance to build its own unique communities, with the ability to communicate directly with APS about their needs and interests. If a particular Chapter expresses a need for a careers workshop or interest in science policy, the Chapter members can be directed to the appropriate APS resources.
“We really want to make sure that these chapters represent the different types of institutions—research intensive R1 universities, Master’s granting universities, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic Serving Institutions, and national labs” says Dawood. “Each chapter is probably going to look very different, and we want to recognize that each chapter will likely have a unique identity.”
A main goal of the pilot program, which has just completed its application process, is to work with a small group of institutions and assess what resources Chapters could benefit from the most. Each Chapter that has been selected for the pilot will first elect Chapter officers this fall, and in December they will submit an activity interest form to APS, laying out what resources or events they need.
Another draw of APS Chapters beyond individualized resources is a chance for students and early career members to grow their leadership skills. A small group at one institution provides a training ground for future leaders in physics to find their voices.
“We want to provide opportunities to empower individuals. The local groups really give individuals the opportunity to rise to the occasion and rise to leadership positions,” says Dawood. “The other big thing is that we want to make sure these are equitable, inclusive communities—anyone who wants to be a part of them can join. We want to support everyone, especially those from underrepresented groups.”
APS Chapters are open to anyone at their respective institutions, with the only requirement being that at least five Chapter members are also members of APS. One faculty or staff advisor will also be required for each Chapter to provide a sense of continuity as new students join the Chapter and take on leadership roles. However, anyone—graduate student, post-doc, faculty, or staff member—will be able to apply to start a Chapter at their institution.
While the pilot program has just kicked off, anyone interested in starting an APS Chapter at their institution can fill out an interest form on the Chapters website to be alerted when Chapter applications open up next fall.
“What's exciting about this program is that it is connected to many APS activities, in particular those run by the APS Membership, Career Programs, and International Affairs offices,” says Dawood. “Navigating your career early on isn’t easy, so we at APS want to do what we can to help and build a sense of community while supporting these individuals.”
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Editor: David Voss
Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine
Publication Designer and Production: Nancy Bennett-Karasik