Monday, November 21, 2011

Bittersweet: The End of A Professional Service Term

I have mentioned many times on this blog that I feel that performing service to my profession is just as important as the research and public outreach that I do; in a way, this is a form of professional outreach.

I have had the uncommon honor to serve on the American Physical Society (APS) Council and then, half way into my four-year term, I was elected to serve on their Executive Board.  I have met many new colleagues whom I would have never met otherwise since we don't work in the same field of physics.  Even better, some of them have become friends (good enough friends that I will even discuss my Impostor Syndrome issue with them - I wrote a whole post about this).

As far as contributing to the profession, I have had the opportunity to work extensively on strategic planning for the next decade of the society and represented young physicists' concerns on many issues.  Even more than that, I am now able to better understand the workings of my professional society, understand the concerns of physicists who work in industry, outside of the United States, etc. and learn more about the politics (inside and outside of physics) that make research happen (or not).

My term comes to a close (on both the Council and the Executive Board) at the end of this year and I have just traveled back from my last meetings in Salt Lake City, UT.  I am sad about not getting to meet the new people who will be elected to replace all of us rotating off this year (I do recognize if we never left, there would be no new people!).  A big relief to me is that I won't have to travel so much - if you serve on the Council, that is 2 trips a year and then if you serve on the Executive Board that is an additional 3 trips (or 4 trips next year).  Since I HATE to travel, this will mean more nights in my own bed <contented sigh>.

The view from my hotel room in Salt Lake City.  This is facing Temple Square and the LDS temple is visible between the 2 red-orange buildings.
If you are reading this and are not a physicist (I hope some of you aren't since it is for you that I really write this blog), I hope that I have given you a little peek into the physics community outside of LIGO.  If you are a physicist, I urge you to consider expanding whatever service work you do to the APS, AAPT, OSA, etc.  It can be a lot of work, but I would definitely do it all over again.  Of course, service isn't all work (just mostly):

Wine tasting during the APS Executive Board Retreat, Santa Barbara, CA (Photo: Ken Cole)
Special thanks to Ken Cole for permission to use his picture of me (above).  Ken is the APS Special Assistant to the Executive Officer (and has done a great job a wrangling me these last years) and is also a gifted photographer.  You can view more of his photos here.