We all know that 2020 has been an extraordinary year. A year filled with challenges but also opportunities. A year in which the whole team here at the American Institute of Physics has delivered success to the 10 societies and associations in our federation and provided leadership within the broader physical sciences community.

Like all of you, every single member of our staff and every volunteer in our community has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The pandemic propelled AIP and its staff to think creatively across all departments as to how we achieve our mission, serve our audiences and continue to deliver excellence to the physical sciences community. I am so proud of how our organization was able to mobilize early on in 2020 to minimize disruption to our work – and in some cases flourish in new, exciting ways – which you will read about below.

Despite everything that 2020 has thrown at us, AIP also maintained our focus on what we called our year of discovery. Since January, we have spent countless hours across all departments and levels of the organization to map out how we can deliver on the compelling vision for AIP that is at the core of our newly adopted Strategic Framework.

The result of this process will be to deliver on the Framework’s vision of AIP-2025. This four-to-five-year journey of transformation for AIP in its role as a federation of societies and associations, and an institute that drives progress in the physical sciences, is outlined in the materials found in this Annual Report. Together as a team we will continue to grow, build on our successes, and advance the physical sciences with a unifying voice of strength from diversity.

I hope that you enjoy perusing our Annual Report in this new format. That you learn something new about the Institute, our people, our Member Societies, and our community. And that you will join AIP on this journey as we look forward to the promise of 2021 and the future.

Michael H. Moloney, PhD
Chief Executive Officer


Our Strategic Framework

How does the American Institute of Physics evolve as we head toward our centenary? How can we strengthen the heart of AIP’s success — our federation of scientific societies and associations — so that we can better leverage our combined reach and influence? What possibilities exist for AIP to develop as an institute to support our disciplines by advancing issues we all care about, such as diversity, equity, belonging and accessibility?

In 2020, AIP embarked on a journey of strategic transformation that is focused on the future with these questions, and more, in mind. This transformation is guided by the vision of AIP in our Strategic Framework.

AIP staff across our organization have been and will be engaged in the strategic changes ahead. The Strategic Framework lays out how we can best utilize our resources with four focal pillars in mind — our work as a federation and institute, as well as our reputation and organizational excellence.

We are thrilled to share with you some examples of how our work through 2020 and continuing now aligns to this Strategic Framework, continuing in our mission to advance, promote and serve the physical sciences community with a unifying voice of strength from diversity.

AIP will be a vibrant Federation that advances the success of our Member Societies
AIP will be a center of excellence that advances the physical sciences enterprise through research and analysis aimed at improving the understanding of our heritage and promoting future progress
AIP will be a trusted and reliable source of information and analysis
AIP will be recognized for cultivating an effective, talented, diverse, and engaged staff that delivers excellence to our stakeholders
Federation - AIP will be a vibrant federation that advances the success of our Member Societies.
Our Member Societies are the backbone of the physical sciences community, and their work drives the progress and innovation of our fields. Our relationship with each Member Society is unique and so important to the work that we do every single day—when our Member Societies succeed, we all succeed.

Diversity Action Fund establishment

AIP’s Board of Directors established a special $200,000 Diversity Action Fund to facilitate swift action by AIP’s Member Societies and the National Society of Black Physicists, an AIP Affiliated Society, in response to racial injustices. Member Society efforts are focused on developing or enhancing programs and activities aimed at improving diversity, equity and inclusion within their membership and stakeholder communities.

Amplifying the voices of physics and allied fields

In 2020, we collaborated with dozens of scientific societies to unify our voices on matters of national importance, including letters on executive action around immigration and diversity training policies, as well as our position on open access.


Pivoting our Assembly of Society Officers Meeting to a virtual format

The COVID-19 Pandemic occurred right when AIP normally hosts its annual Assembly of Officers Meeting. This meeting is pivotal because it provides a forum for our 10 Member Societies – as well as representatives from our Affiliated Societies – to convene and discuss developments in our fields that affect our work and how we serve the physical sciences community. In 2020, our Assembly of Society Officers Meeting included virtual sessions where our TEAM-UP Report’s major findings and recommendations were presented, as well as focused discussions around creating more inclusive spaces and cultivating systemic change.

Ensuring delivery of Physics Today during the pandemic

Because many of our Physics Today readers receive their monthly print subscriptions at their work address, we coordinated with AIP Publishing and our Member Societies to update delivery addresses for readers at the very beginning of the pandemic.


International Year of Sound

International Year of Sound

Throughout 2020, staff at AIP helped to promote the International Year of Sound , a global initiative to highlight the importance of sound and related sciences and technologies for all in society. We worked with some of our Member Societies, and in particular the Acoustical Society of America, on several initiatives throughout the year, including an art and lyrics competition for students . Physics Today also featured acoustics prominently in its December issue to help cap off the International Year of Sound.

Institute - AIP will be a center of excellence that advances the physical sciences enterprise through research and analysis aimed at improving the understanding of our heritage and promoting future progress.
We marshal our research, analysis and expertise across various fields to identify opportunities and challenges for the physical sciences community. Our work helps to drive the design and implementation of actions to promote diversity, equity, belonging, and accessibility in the physical sciences community.

AIP Foundation launch

The launch of AIP Foundation, which we coordinated and pulled off during a pandemic, is a strategic step that aligns our institutional goals to our development efforts, raising funds that will help AIP to support the Center for History of Physics, Niels Bohr Library & Archives, Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma, as well as our future endeavors around diversity, equity, belonging, and accessibility.

Supporting research and the preservation of our fields

AIP’s Statistical Research Center worked to anonymize data from the Global Survey of Scientists, making the data available to researchers from the project team while maintaining respondent confidentiality. The analysis of the data helps SRC understand real issues scientists face around the globe.

SRC staff gave a presentation, Challenges Facing Women in Physics , at the 2020 March Meeting of the American Physical Society. This presentation covered the many challenges women encounter in the physics field, as well as what women working in physics reported as factors that helped them succeed. The SRC team also released an update to their report, Employment & Careers in Physics , which is a compilation of their most popular resources on employment for physics PhD and bachelor’s degree recipients.


Rare books at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives

This year, through work with our Center for History of Physics, we finalized plans to introduce our new Robert H. G. Helleman Memorial Fellowships , which were established by bequeathed funds of the late Robert Helleman. These fellowships provide opportunities in physics and subdisciplines at U.S. universities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from the Netherlands.

The Niels Bohr Library & Archives grant team and rare books cataloger returned to the building once a month to take hundreds of high-resolution photographs of our rare books to fuel at-home cataloging and description research. You can read more about the library team’s efforts, and more, at their blog Ex Libris Universum .


Addressing systemic racism and discrimination in the physical sciences

The AIP National Task Force to Elevate African American Representation in Undergraduate Physics & Astronomy (TEAM-UP) released its report in January 2020, which describes long-term systemic issues within the physics and astronomy communities that contribute to the persistent underrepresentation of African Americans in these fields. The report makes important, actionable recommendations for community-wide efforts to reverse this trend.


TEAM-UP events

We released our groundbreaking TEAM-UP report at the American Astronomical Society’s 235th meeting in Hawaii. The pandemic just weeks later curtailed many of our plans to present our findings at all of our planned in-person events throughout 2020. But the remote environment led to some exciting new opportunities for TEAM-UP, enabling us to take our presentations virtual, and ultimately, reach new audiences. In 2020, our TEAM-UP staff were able to present the report’s findings at many Member Society meetings and other gatherings of the scientific community.

Throughout 2020, AIP took several actions to help acknowledge and address systemic racism, including content in Physics Today that featured a Q&A series with Black physicists that coincided with #BlackInPhysics Week, a series of essays for #BlackInPhysics Week and commissioned commentary about anti-Blackness in physics.

We also put forward a response to police violence against communities of color after the brutal killings that occurred earlier in the year against people of color, which included our participation in the #ShutDownSTEM initiative . Also in 2020, our Niels Bohr Library & Archives staff began conducting a comprehensive examination of their descriptive practices to ensure that we describe collections and materials in a way that is respectful to marginalized communities and calls attention to research potential in areas that might have been hidden in earlier descriptive practices.

Peril and Promise: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Physical Sciences

To assist leaders in government, academia, the private sector and others who depend on the physical sciences as they craft specific recommendations to address the COVID-19 Pandemic’s impacts, we convened a panel of experts to forecast the effects on the physical sciences.


Continuing our support of students during a pandemic

The pandemic’s impacts on college students were numerous in 2020, and at a time when many businesses and organizations were dialing back or rescinding their offers of internships for students, we decided to move in a different direction. Our SPS Internship program , typically operated as an in-person summer program, was re-configured to be a virtual program for 2020 so that we could continue our tradition of providing invaluable work experience that students can carry with them into their careers, as well as much-needed income during a period when other opportunities were vanishing.

The disproportionate financial impacts on students also compelled us to introduce the AIP-SPS Emergency Student Scholarship Fund in 2020 to enable us to help even more students. This fund provided $100,000 in scholarships to undergraduate students impacted by the pandemic.

Providing awards to these students was possible due to the generous support of our donor community who made gifts to the effort through our newly launched AIP Foundation .

Reputation - AIP will be a trusted and reliable source of information and analysis.
Our content helps to promote a comprehensive dialog within the physical sciences community, while adhering to our reputation of transparency, impartiality and independence on matters including public policy, the rich history of the physical sciences, and science news.

AIP Publishing and the launch of Biophysics Reviews and Chemical Physics Reviews

These two titles are designed for a growing community of researchers whose work is increasingly interdisciplinary, who use the tools of physics to tackle problems in biology and chemistry. BPR and CPR follow the model set by Applied Physics Reviews by publishing research and reviews that are instructive and illuminating for both emerging and experienced scientists.

New opportunities for content and expanding our outreach

The pandemic brought with it multiple disruptions to day-to-day operations globally, but it also provided opportunities for us to think creatively about the nature of our work and how we can continue to achieve our mission.

The remote environment allowed us to begin conducting more of our Oral History Interviews online by utilizing videoconferencing platforms, resulting in an overall increase in the number of oral histories we were able to produce in 2020, as well as increasing the diversity of our interviewees.

We successfully transitioned our Lyne Starling Trimble Science Heritage Public Lecture Series to an online format, which allowed us to increase the frequency of our lectures and broaden the scope of our outreach.

FYI provided rolling coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic’s impacts related to science policy and federal funding via its Budget Tracker.

Staff lent their expertise and collaborated across departments to contribute content to our flagship publication, Physics Today , including stories about where recently graduated physics PhDs work , President-elect Biden’s next steps in science policy , and the suspension of a skilled-worker visa program that sparked an outcry.


Trinity anniversary coverage

Inside Science commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Trinity nuclear test , compiling stories and features that examined the scientific and cultural milestone through the decades.

Each year, AIP and AIP Publishing staff coordinate on media coverage for the Nobel Prize , compiling resources of new winners, arranging for media interviews, and distributing past significant works. For 2020, our ethos for around-the-clock Nobel coverage was undeterred, with staff working decentralized across multiple time zones to make the occasion successful.

AIP Publishing’s new digital books collection helps global research scientists, students, and educators discover, investigate, learn, and explore. Covering topics as diverse as materials science, biophysics, optics and photonics, chemical physics, nanotechnology, condensed matter, mathematical physics, and applied physics and engineering, the books are available on Scitation.org where they are fully integrated with AIP Publishing’s journal portfolio.

Taking a stand for the STEM community


Supporting open access

In May, AIP was one of 36 scientific societies or associations that banded together to ask President Donald Trump to reconsider an executive order that suspended entry of immigrants to the United States. The order sought to place limits to the number of foreign workers available in the U.S. job market and made no exceptions for researchers and students in science, technology, engineering and math who are not involved in coronavirus research.

AIP also reaffirmed its position and commitment to supporting Open Access in 2020, joining efforts with many of our Member Societies, as well as other scientific societies. Our combined efforts call for an increase in policy momentum toward open science publishing, urging all stakeholders to ensure that the routes by which we achieve open access preserve the diversity, quality and financial sustainability of the peer-reviewed publishing upon which our research community depends.

Excellence - AIP will be recognized for cultivating an effective, talented, diverse, and engaged staff that delivers excellence to our stakeholders.
We empower each member of the diverse AIP team to deliver leadership and success in all that we do. Our workplace culture captures an appreciation of, and passion for, how we pursue our mission. We acknowledge, celebrate and respect the diversity of talent across our organization.

Increasing our expertise around diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging

In October, we appointed our first diversity, equity and belonging officer, Taharee Jackson, to lead AIP in developing strategies that expand diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging and accessibility within AIP, AIP Publishing, and the physical sciences community. Jackson earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard University and a doctorate degree from Emory University. She was an assistant professor of minority and urban education at the University of Maryland in College Park. She also worked for the Department of Defense National Defense University as an expert consultant and a diversity, equity, and inclusion program manager.


Transitioning to a remote work environment

We built equity into how we approached the sudden transition to remote work in 2020, fully recognizing the disproportionate effect the COVID-19 Pandemic had on minoritized groups. We equitized our annual employee evaluation system, we continue to maintain a culture of flexible work schedules, and we helped staff ease into remote work by providing funds to purchase office equipment for at-home use.

Managing Through COVID-19

The pandemic has created disruption in AIP’s core operations. From donors experiencing financial stress, to advertisers on our digital and print mediums needing to cut spending, to students making difficult decisions on their education and professional memberships, AIP is witnessing the economic impact of the crisis from multiple angles. We are looking to be flexible and responsive by redirecting our resources to continue to carry out our mission, whether it be emergency scholarships to minority and SPS students, sponsorship of our Member Society virtual conferences, or updating our technology infrastructure to better maximize the reach of our programs and services in a digital capacity due to the in-person restrictions created by the virus. AIP is dedicated to investing our resources to deliver on our mission and support our Member Societies in any and every capacity we deem feasible through this crisis.

Charting our year of discovery

Guided by a team of consultants, more than one-fourth of AIP staff – representing every department across the Institute – engaged in a set of weekly exercises in early 2020 to better understand how our Strategic Framework will guide AIP’s operations and evolution over the period 2020-2025 as we prepare for our 2031 centenary.

Phase I of this process was a study to catalog the “vision requirements,” or the set of capabilities, skills and deliverables needed for AIP to successfully meet the vision of AIP-2025 as laid out in our Strategic Framework. These discovery activities saw staff participate in deep-dive discussions and team exercises to conceptualize what evolving needs AIP could develop over this five-year journey to help us achieve our goals, not limiting ourselves to any current paradigms or existing programmatic activities.

These vision requirement exercises informed Phase II of our process, which focused on scoping out the transformation required to reach the 2025 vision, and an approach to implementing change, including milestones and estimates of the levels of resources required to achieve completion over the four-year period of 2021-2024.

With this information in hand, we began carrying out a set of experiments in 2020 in the form of staff-led activities that support our current operational efforts but with a focus not only on delivering products and services to our stakeholders, but also equally affording AIP the opportunity to probe our readiness to realize our AIP-2025 vision. These experiments included an assessment of our IT systems, administrative processes, and our meeting and collaboration infrastructure, among other areas.

Prudent planning for crises

Planning for assured continuity in our business function is a key strategy to ensuring AIP Member Societies, audiences, and other stakeholders’ trust that the Institute will deliver excellence in all its activities. 2020 saw the activation of an AIP Board of Directors approved risk reserves—funds set aside to provide liquidity in the event of a material financial crisis. This prudent planning assured that AIP was well positioned to manage through the financial hardships created by the COVID-19 Pandemic. The combination of years of disciplined expense management coupled with the risk reserves assures that AIP will be able to manage through the multi-year impact of difficult financial markets, weak economic conditions, and a challenging donor environment without materially impacting how effectively we carry out our mission and serve our Member Societies.


2020 Successes

The recurring theme of 2020 will forever be the impact of the global pandemic. Whether taking into consideration its impact from an economic perspective, the disruption of in person events, SPS chapter events, in-person Trimble Lectures, or AIP’s ability to have a physical presence with our member societies and in board meetings, the disruption was considerable. However, AIP was able to remain resilient and even had its share of wins from a financial perspective:

Investment Performance: With financial markets reeling due to the fallout from the virus, AIP remained steadfast in the face of crisis. The Investment Advisory Committee met early and often to manage through the tumultuous marketplace. AIP did not sell off its portfolio in response to the crisis and the prudence paid off. By the close of the 2020 calendar year, AIP was able to grow its investment base for 2020 by 12%.

Expense Discipline: With the financial impact of the pandemic expected to be material, AIP underwent an extensive risk assessment on a department-by-department basis with the goal of proactive risk mitigation. With most of AIP’s Member Societies, Affiliated Societies, and customer base feeling a similar financial hit, replacing lost revenue was an unlikely scenario. As a result, AIP set out to find all expenses that could potentially be trimmed without disrupting operations and minimizing the impact to our ability to carry out our mission in the face of such difficult circumstances. Items such as travel, costs related to hosting and attending in-person conferences, and expenses related to employees being in the physical office were scrubbed for areas that could be eliminated. With this proactive and detail-orientated approach, AIP was able to successfully find enough expense savings to more than offset the revenue lost due to the global health crisis. Being proactive early in the crisis and seeking out efficiencies really made a material difference on our overall bottom line for 2020.

Financial Performance

In 2020, AIP posted its eleventh consecutive year of positive net operating results, a testament to our long-term commitment to overall operational excellence. The year also served as a key planning year for putting our Strategic Framework into action in the coming years at the Institute.

Some noteworthy 2020 financial highlights* include:

  • Net surplus from operations of $5.2M
  • Net Assets increased 8.5% to $226.2M
  • Investments generated a return of 12.0%, increasing by $18.0M to $207.2M
  • AIP successfully launched the AIP Foundation with the goal of fully endowing our Niels Bohr Library & Archives, Center for History of Physics, and our Student Programs (Society of Physics Students/Sigma Pi Sigma)

*Financial data is preliminary and unaudited – Final audited financial results available in April

AIP is grateful for the generous support provided by donors and sponsors for its programs and awards and will continue to be a disciplined steward of its financial assets.

Strategic Investment Fund – The Path to the AIP of the Future

AIP’s Strategic Investment Fund (SIF) was established in 2016 to invest in innovative business initiatives that support AIP’s strategic transformation. The SIF will be the primary source of funding for realizing the vision in AIP’s Strategic Framework. The flexibility and responsiveness that the SIF provides will be instrumental in AIP achieving its vision for 2025 and position us well for another century of serving our Member Societies and driving progress in the physical sciences.

AIP Financial Profile – Quick Facts

  • Approximately 60% of our expense base is related to people costs.
  • Donations to the AIP Foundation in the first five years of operations will go directly to supporting AIP’s existing activities at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives and Center for History of Physics, and supporting our student programs, which include the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Pi Sigma. Support also will be directed toward future ventures around diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, and accessibility.
  • Over the period of 2015–2020, AIP’s expense base has grown largely in line with CPI, demonstrating our commitment to maintain a lean expense base.
  • AIP’s investment portfolio has outgrown CPI over the 2015-2020 time frame when taking into account withdrawals to support operations and donor-specified support initiatives.
  • AIP has had 11 consecutive years of positive net operating results.
  • AIP utilizes 3-5% of reserves on an annual basis to support operations.
  • 98% of the Institute’s payments are now electronic and paperless.
  • 81.4% of AIP’s net assets are either donor restricted or Board designated.

The American Institute of Physics Incorporated (tax exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code) and Affiliates include AIP Publishing LLC (AIPP) and AIP Foundation (AIPF). AIPP is a disregarded entity under the AIP tax exempt status, and it is a single member, wholly owned subsidiary of AIP.

The primary purpose of AIPP is to support the scientific and educational mission of AIP through scholarly publishing activities in the physical and related sciences. AIPP is the sole shareholder in AIP Global, Inc. (AIPG), a for-profit corporation. The primary purpose of AIPG is to advance the physical sciences for the benefit of society by acting as a business liaison for the dissemination of knowledge of physics and to collaborate and network with physicists.

On March 20, 2019, the Institute formed AIPF, which officially launched in November of 2020. AIPF is a nonprofit, nonstock corporation organized and operated exclusively for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes. The mission of the AIP Foundation is to maximize charitable support for AIP. AIPF fundraising activities will center around supporting the Center for History of Physics, the Niels Bohr Library & Archives, SPS/Sigma Pi Sigma, and the newly added initiative of DEIBA (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, Accessibility).

AIP Board of Directors

AIP Publishing Board of Managers

AIP Foundation Board of Trustees