2023 Physics Department Chairs Conference

June 12-14, 2023
American Center for Physics, College Park, MD

The American Physical Society and American Association of Physics Teachers invite you to attend the Physics Department Chairs Conference 2023, being held on June 12-14, 2023.

Designed by chairs, for chairs, the program will feature extended discussions and additional opportunities for networking on the topics you prioritize.

Funds are available to cover travel and registration fees for participants from minority-serving institutions. Email the Chairs Conference team for details.

Hotel Reservations

The room block for the 2023 Physics Department Chairs Conference has now closed. Discounted housing rates for attendees are no longer available. Rooms can still be at reserved for the standard rate at the Cambria Hotel College Park, located at 8321 Baltimore Avenue, College Park, MD.

Sponsors & Organizers

This event is sponsored by the American Physical Society and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

This event is organized by the following Steering Committee members: Kenneth Barish (UC Riverside), Marty Baylor (Carleton), Bob Hilborn (American Association of Physics Teachers), Marie Lopez del Puerto (University of St. Thomas), Doug Petkie (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), Steve Rolston ( University of Maryland), Michael Wittmann (American Physical Society).

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Monday, June 12

Time (ET) Session
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.

P1. New Chairs Workshop

The New Chairs Workshop is designed for “new” (or relatively “new”) physics department chairs who would like to learn about frameworks for being an effective chair. The Workshop will focus on best practices gathered from previous New Chairs Workshops and Physics Chairs Conferences, including the APS/AAPT EP3 Guide’s Section on “How to be an effective chair.” Small breakout sessions will allow participants to join in peer-to-peer discussions of scenarios of situations that most chairs will need to deal with.

11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Lunch on your own

1:00 - 1:30 p.m.

P2. Welcome and Overview

1:30 - 3:00 p.m.

P3. Multi-dimensional Teaching Evaluation

Session Chair: Gabriela Weaver, University of Massachusetts Amherst

The session will share emerging best practices from the TEval Project and give participants the opportunity to reflect on how teaching evaluation practices in their own setting might be improved, as well as to share any efforts they have made in this area.

3:00 - 3:30 p.m. Coffee break
3:30 - 5:00 p.m.

P4. Improving enrollment in the undergraduate physics program

Speaker: Michael Jackson - New Mexico Institute of Technology

Following a brief overview of the EP3 Guide, participants in this workshop will be provided information (e.g., graduation rates and other student data) on a physics department at a fictitious institution "Stellar University" for which they serve as an external consultant (e.g., external program reviewer). With this information, participants speculate about the issues facing this department, in part by considering their own experiences. Participants will gain experience in using the cycle of reflection and action outlined in the EP3 guide and learn how the EP3 guide could be used to identify potential strategies that may be helpful for this fictitious department to consider (or perhaps their own department). Note: this is a highly abbreviated version of a half-day workshop that is currently under development.

5:00 - 5:30 p.m.

P5. Wrap Up

6:30 p.m.

Dinner on your own

Tuesday, June 13

Time (ET) Session
8:00 - 8:45 a.m.


8:30 - 9:00 a.m.

Welcome and Overview Day 2


  • James Taylor, Ph.D., AIP, Chief Federation Officer
9:00 - 10:00 a.m.

P6. “Building an Ecology of Student Wellbeing”

Speaker: Rachel Smith - Iowa State

The last several years in particular have taken a toll on students and the institutional personnel who support them. In this session, I will share what we have learned from studies of undergraduate and graduate students’ experiences in terms of how to better facilitate their success in the classroom and on campus. Suggested strategies will focus on the people, practices, and policies that make up students’ support networks and inform their educational sense-making.

10:00 - 10:30 a.m.

Coffee Break

10:30a - 11:30 a.m.

P7. Engaging students with diverse backgrounds throughout the curriculum


  • Toni Sauncy (Texas Lutheran University) - Labs
  • Danny Caballero (Michigan State University) - Computation
  • Owen Long (University of California at Riverside) - Strategies at UCR
  • Ben Pollard (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) - Grading

Engaging students in physics classes can take many forms beyond just adding a diversity of topics as part of our classes. What are the structural levers that we can use in our classes and in our programs more broadly to engage and support students from diverse backgrounds? This panel will explore structural approaches to grading, labs, computation, and our programs to support the diversity of students within our physics departments.

11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Breakouts on engaging students by topic

12:30 - 1:30 p.m.


1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

P8. NSF Division Directors Town Hall


  • Denise Caldwell - Physics Division Director
  • Germano Iannacchione - Materials Research Division Director
  • Jean Cottam - Deputy Division Director in Physics

Drs. Caldwell and Iannacchione will each present brief remarks and then open the floor for Q&A.

2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

P9. Graduate Admissions and Retention in the Post-GRE Era


  • Ken Barish, UC Riverside
  • Geoff Potvin, Florida International University
  • Steve Rolston, University of Maryland
  • Brad Conrad, Society of Physics Students

While flawed, pGRE scores generally correlated with performance on qualifying examinations. Additionally, GRE lists allowed admissions committees from less well-known institutions to reach out directly to students who indicated an interest in physics graduate schools. In this session, we will discuss strategies and successes/challenges in this new era. pGREs, GPAs, qualifying exams, and recruitment are interrelated, and we anticipate a robust discussion amongst and between PhD and non-PhD granting institutions.

3:30 - 4:00 p.m.

Coffee Break

4:00 - 4:45 p.m.

Grad Admissions Breakouts - by topics and region

4:45 - 5:30 p.m.

Share-A-Thons by type of institution

Chairs share concerns and successes.

6:00 p.m.

Dinner & Reception at ACP

6:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Congressional Visits Day Briefing
Organized by APS Office of External Affairs

Wednesday, June 14

Time (ET) Session
8:00 - 8:45 a.m.


9:00 - 10:30 a.m.

P10. Supporting inclusive environments for hiring, retention, and belonging of faculty members

Speaker: Alexis Knaub, AAPT Program Manager, SEA Change for Physics and Astronomy Program


  • Jennifer Ross, Syracuse University
  • Martín Hoecker-Martinez, University of Redlands
  • Steve Rolston, University of Maryland
  • Doug Petkie, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

This session will briefly review recent climate and statistical surveys of physics departments that demonstrate the lack of diversity and the challenges faced by marginalized groups in physics. Following this, we will highlight several initiatives to change the climate in departments and promote inclusive and supportive environments, such as SEA Change. Panelists will provide examples of specific activities and initiatives at their institutions followed by a general discussion.

10:30 - 11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:00 - 11:45 a.m.

Breakout Sessions

11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

P11. Wrap-up and Adjourn

12:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Congressional Visits Day
Organized by APS Office of External Affairs

6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Congressional Visits Day Debrief
Organized by APS Office of External Affairs


About Congressional Visits Day

Congressional Visits Day (CVD) is part of APS’s Annual Physics Department Chairs Conference, bringing APS members to Capitol Hill to advocate on behalf of the physics community. Meetings with constituents are one of the most effective ways to influence policymakers, and for years, APS members have been incredible advocates for physics with Congress.

Each APS member who attends the Department Chairs CVD participates in an extensive training and preparation process, learning APS’s policy priorities so that they can speak confidently to their elected officials and Congressional staff.

In recent years, we’ve seen the issues our advocates advance during APS’s CVDs result in pieces of legislation being introduced or passed. This is rare in advocacy and a testament to the dedication and skill of our member advocates.

Learn more about 2023 policy priorities