February 20, 2004  


Helen Quinn is New APS President

By Davide Castelvecchi

This year Helen Quinn (THP) may end up earning plenty of frequent flyer miles to Washington, D.C.—she is the new president of the American Physical Society (APS), one of the world’s most prestigious academic societies. "Quinn’s distinction is a cause of pride for the whole Stanford community," Director Jonathan Dorfan said.

Helen Quinn (Photo by Diana Rogers)

APS members, over 40,000 in number, elect the society’s leadership to four-year appointments, which include spending a year each as Vice President, President Elect, President and Past President. Quinn is only the fourth woman to hold the post of APS president in the society’s 104 years of history.

While she still wants to press ahead with her work on the theory aspects of the B Factory here at SLAC, Quinn will take an active role in steering the APS.

"I want the society to look further ahead," she says, especially in its effort to reach out to policy makers. "The way the world is going you need a more consistent, coherent presence in Washington."

Among the issues of concern for the Australian-born, Stanford-educated president of the APS is that of visas. New regulations enacted in the post-9/11 climate have made it harder for international students and scholars to come to study, work or just attend conferences in the U.S. "There have been cases," Quinn says, "of international meetings where some people haven’t been able to attend." She thinks the APS should work with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and other scientific societies to find ways to help the State Department make the necessary security checks as efficient and as applicant-friendly as possible.

"We can set up a system to share information," she says, "to let consular offices know when a visa applicant has recognition in the science community as a colleague, such as a collaboration member."

"Science happens to be a particularly international community," Quinn added. "For American science to remain at the forefront it needs to stay well connected in the international science community."

Quinn, who was elected to the NAS last year, has been part of the SLAC staff since 1978. She was a recipient of the 2000 Dirac Medal ‘for pioneering contributions to the quest for a unified theory of quarks and leptons and of the strong, weak, and electromagnetic interactions.’ She is the leader of SLAC’s Education Outreach, and was the founding president of the non-profit Contemporary Physics Education Project, which produces materials for high school and college science teachers.


The Stanford Linear Accelerator Center is managed by Stanford University for the US Department of Energy

Last update Tuesday February 17, 2004 by Emily Ball