Minutes of the meeting of the IUPAP Commission on
Physics for Development (C13), Saturday September 1 st 2007
On Saturday September 1 st 2007, at 9.30, the IUPAP Commission on Physics for Development (C13) met in the Lundqvist Lecture Hall of the Adriatico Guest House at the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy.
The following members of the C13 were present :
Annick Suzor-Weiner (Chair), Kennedy Reed (Vice-chair), Daniele Treleani (Secretary), Robert Harris, Ana Maria Llois, Jaime Julve, Paulo Murilo Oliveira, Erna Karule, Shin-ichi Kurokawa, Ludger Woeste. D. Callebaud and A. Wague sent regrets that they were unable to attend.
Also present were the following associate members :
K. Sreenivasan, A. H. Khater, Mourad Telmini.
And the following invited guests :
G. Furlan (ICTP TRIL Programme), Daniel Schaffer (TWAS), François Piuzzi (CEA),
Mrs Manjit Dosanjh (CERN). Majed Chergui (EPS) was invited but
could not come.
1- Welcome and presentations.
After the presentations, the chairperson thanks the ICTP for hosting the meeting. The main aim of the meeting is to explore possibilities for the organizations represented to collaborate and share information on their common interest in supporting physics in developing countries.
The chairperson has received a touching letter from Amadou Wague (A1), acknowledging the contributions of Prof. Gallieno Denardo who passed away on 23 July. Prof. Denardo was the former head of the ICTP Office of External Affairs and also a former secretary of C13. He was tireless supporter of physics in developing countries. It is suggested (L. Woeste) that IUPAP-C13 should organize a meeting to honor Prof. Denardo, but the Director of the ICTP mentioned that efforts are already underway to put together a suitable tribute to the work of Prof. Denardo.
2- Review of actions of Institutes and Societies for “Physics for Development”
The participants make brief presentations on the activities in "Physics for Development" carried out by their respective organizations:
In the absence of Majed Chergui (chair of the Interdivisional Group for Physics for Development of EPS) the actions of the European Physical Society are briefly summarized by A. Suzor-Weiner (mainly support to schools and workshops, and a distribution list).
3- General discussion for concerted actions and common support for conferences
The chairperson suggests that the main issues to be discussed are:
3a- access to journals: ICTP has signed an agreement with EPS to ship articles to requesting scientists in developing countries. Insufficient bandwidth in developing countries is often a bottleneck for the program. There has been a proposal for UNESCO to provide better internet connection to a number of selected universities. IUPAP could possibly help with this request. The problem of connectivity is also being discussed in ICFA and C11. Concerning the availability of funds for this, the chairperson pointed out that, even though IUPAP is not a funding agency, there is a budget. If interesting proposals come from the commission some support might be obtained from the Council, for a well focused action limited in time.
There was some discussion of difficulties that many scientists from developing countries encounter when trying to publish papers. A suggestion was made that a refereeing commission could be organized to provide help to enhance the quality of papers from developing regions. ICTP already provides some help, and some journals (IOP) provide assistance in writing papers in acceptable English. A new journal, the African Physical Review, was started to help authors from developing countries. A possible action in support of journals of developing countries would be to ask organizers of conferences supported by the C13 to publish their proceedings in those journals. Also, noted physicists could be encouraged to publish articles in such journals.
The participants representing the UK and France agreed to follow up on work with UNESCO in support of a satellite internet connection to selected universities in developing countries. The participants representing IOP, EPS and ICTP will work on the issues related to the publication of papers of scientists from developing countries.
3b- coordination for sponsoring conferences: The director of ICTP pointed out that ICTP already supports many conferences in developing countries and would be prepared to run a joint program with IUPAP. For the action to be effective one needs to have a specific goal. It was suggested that an efficient way to operate would be to have some type of annual conference/school series supported by ICTP and IUPAP. Such a program would also be of interest to CERN. Computational physics is a topic that would have broad application and would attract many participants.
Some experimental activity connected with conferences/schools would greatly increase their impact. It was pointed out that a lot of good physics can be done with very cheap devices which can be found in electronic equipment out of use. In that respect the experience gained recently at the “Andean International Spectroscopy Conference” may be helpful (A9). Experimental suitcases have been developed in Germany, specifically for training purposes. ICTP also runs courses on instrumentation, and these can be linked to the initiative.
It was decided to check with the ICTP for a possible common action (L. Woeste, F. Piuzzi).
3c- sustainable coordinated actions:
- IUPAP support for STEP program of ICTP?
The chairperson has communicated to the IUPAP executive council officers the idea of IUPAP supporting a STEP fellow, as proposed in the 2006 C13 meeting in Paris. The reaction was not very positive. IUPAP would rather be ready to provide more support to small conferences and regional workshops, or to launch common actions rather than supporting ICTP ongoing activities.
- Another suggestion is to identify and work with Physics Centers in developing countries that have attained a high level. To help with this process, the director of the ICTP proposed to organize a presentation of ICTP's Affiliated Centers. His proposal was unanimously approved by the commission as well as by the invited participants (CERN, TWAS, EPS, CEA).
The Chairperson will discuss this further at the IUPAP Council meeting in Rio, 5-6 October.
4- Conference proposals for 2008, submitted to IUPAP for support by C13.
Two conference proposals have been submitted to the commission, from Cameroon and Cuba.
The 1 st Yaounde International College on Novel Materials and Technologies, and their impact on Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development (A10) is organized by Jean-Marie Ndjaka at the University of Yaoundé I, Cameroon . T he commission favors the proposal, but suggests that the conference should be more focused, with less invited professors from Europe nd US, giving more lectures and tutorials. The chair agreed to improve the request through contact with the proponents.
The 5 th International Meeting on Photodynamics (A11), will be organized by Jesús Rubayo-Soneira in Havana, Cuba, and fits into a series. Previous requests for IUPAP support for these conferences were rejected. The earlier conferences were nevertheless successful. The commission felt that this request has some merit, but the application gives too few details. The chair will make contact and obtain more information.
A general comment is that there is a lack of information on obtaining IUPAP support for conferences in developing countries, and work should be done to stimulate more applications.
5- New rules for IUPAP membership, for emerging or developing countries: decision of the Council last October
Special offers for membership for countries in various stages of development have been worked out by IUPAP. There are three different categories of membership, A, B and C, depending on the membership dues. While previously there were members and observers, now there are only members, whatever the fee. The executive council of IUPAP took into account the suggestions formulated in the last year's C13 meeting that all countries at the same level have the same benefit. Contacts are presently being made with different countries in an effort to increase the number of members of IUPAP in categories B and C.
The advantages of becoming a member of IUPAP were pointed out by M. Telmini. These include being part of the international physics community, being in contact with other physics societies in the world, and making physics activity more visible to the research ministry of one's own country.
6- Information on African Institute for Mathematical Sciences; African Laser Center; Nanosciences African Network (NANOAFNET) and SESAME in Jordan
SESAME ( www.sesame.org.jo) is the synchrotron facility being built in Jordan, whose construction was delayed by various difficulties. The current situation is that the building is almost completed, and the next step is the installation of the injection system. The inauguration is expected next summer. Nominations of Iran and Iraq to become new members of SESAME have been accepted by the SESAME Council. Christopher Lewellen-Smith will replace Herwig Schopper as President of the SESAME Council next year.
Shin-Ichi Kurokawa reported on the 10 th SESAME Council Meeting which took place in Vienna in August. Kennedy Reed reported on recent communications with Herman Winick (founder of SESAME) and Herwig Schopper regarding possible IUPAP backing for SESAME. They indicated an interest in IUPAP endorsement of SESAME, and the possibility of some type of IUPAP support for the SESAME training program.
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS, www.aims.za) was founded near Cape Town by 3 universities (Cambridge, who took the initiative, Oxford and University Paris 11) and supported by private foundations. Two years ago they suffered a sudden reduction in funding, and IUPAP and IOP helped AIMS recover. AIMS is now in very good shape and partly supported by the South African ministry. It is becoming a training center for students from all across Africa. The training lasts for one year, then the students enter Master or PhD programs preferentially in Africa. The number of students was previously 50 per year, and is now being increased to 60.
Kennedy Reed reported on the African Laser Center (www.africanlasercentre.org) and the chairperson updated the commission on the NANOAFNET.
7- Information on the International Basic Science Programme (IBSP) programme of UNESCO and UNESCO chairs in Physics.
UNESCO Chairs are essentially a label given to academic positions of particular interest to UNESCO. There are some UNESCO chairs in mathematics and two in physics. One is in Benin and another was established last December at Birzeit University in Palestine, in preparation of the project ECCE-Birzeit (http://www.physik.uni-augsburg.de/ifk/ecce/, a regional research and training center in Physics, to be installed in Birzeit University, where physics was taught only to the Bachelor degree previously. A new Master program will start soon as a first stone to ECCE-Birzeit.
The International Basic Science Program (IBSP) was launched by UNESCO in 2005. It is a good move of UNESCO for which basic science was not a priority, but the first call in 2006 was unevenly announced and received many applications for too small projects. The next funding campaign will be for larger projects like regional centers or networks, and for combined support with other donors. It is however not yet clear when application to the Program will be possible.
8- Other points to be added by members.
Jaime Julve proposes that the commission request an increase in the number of members from 13 to 14, to allow a greater presence of members from developing countries. The chairperson tells the commission that this issue is on the agenda of the council. The matter of a consistent presence of people from developing countries in C13 has been a concern of IUPAP in the past and, as a result, C13 has now three associate members.
Ana Maria Llois updated the commission on the Brazil - Argentina network on nanoscience, which recently received support from IUPAP.
Closure : The meeting ends at 6.00 p.m.
Annick Suzor-Weiner Kennedy Reed Daniele Treleani
Chairperson Vice-chair Secretary