American Institute of Physics
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Press Release

AIP Appoints Alejandro de la Puente as Director of the Society of Physics Students and AIP Student Engagement Officer

APR 22, 2024
De la Puente will lead AIP’s engagement with undergraduate students, such as the Society of Physics Students and the Sigma Pi Sigma honor society.
Alejandro de la Puente headshot.jpg

Alejandro de la Puente, director of the Society of Physics Students

Image Credit: de la Puente

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2024 – AIP is delighted to announce the appointment of Alejandro de la Puente as director of the Society of Physics Students and AIP’s first Student Engagement Officer, a new executive role at the Institute. Starting April 22, de la Puente will lead student engagement efforts across AIP.

“Alejandro is an ideal fit for this critical and enhanced leadership role at AIP. His breadth of professional experience is only surpassed by his passion for cultivating an inclusive and impactful experience for undergraduate students,” said Michael Moloney , AIP’s CEO. “Alejandro is convinced, as am I, that meeting students where they are and welcoming all students with an interest in the physical sciences unlocks opportunity for the undergraduates AIP engages with as they embark on career and life journeys.”

As AIP’s first Student Engagement Officer and director of SPS, de la Puente will be responsible for student programs focused on the undergraduate level through the Society of Physics Students and the physics and astronomy honor society, Sigma Pi Sigma. He will also play a key leadership role as AIP extends its reach to undergraduate students in the physical sciences—in particular to those who are under-resourced.

A core part of AIP, SPS is a membership organization explicitly designed for undergraduate students with an interest in physics or astronomy and their advisors. SPS helps students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community. Through its members, advisors, chapters, and leadership, SPS fosters national and local community-based initiatives to help students develop effective communication and interpersonal skills. SPS also promotes opportunities for leadership development, professional networking, and effective presentation of scholarly work at professional meetings and in scholarly scientific journals.

“The importance of SPS initiatives and AIP’s undergraduate outreach cannot be overstated,” said Moloney. “These students are the pipeline into both the physical sciences STEM workforce—which is so critical to our future success as a nation and as a species on this planet—as well as the membership ranks of AIP’s Member Societies and Affiliates.”

While pursuing a bachelor’s degree in physics at Florida International University de la Puente joined SPS. That formative experience shaped his career and sparked his passion for the undergraduate experience and his desire to help support students on their journey.

“SPS is a community that extends beyond schoolwork and physics- or astronomy-related activities,” said de la Puente. “It’s exciting to stand at the helm of the student-led society that accompanied me through the hardships of undergrad and helped me become the person I am today. Seeing the excitement and awe in people at the start of their professional lives reinforces my desire to empower entire communities through science and to cultivate equity through our programs and activities.”

As a key part of his role at AIP, de la Puente will also lead Sigma Pi Sigma , the national physics and astronomy honor society. Sigma Pi Sigma elects members based on outstanding academic achievement and community service. Members encourage interest in and provide support for programs that advance the fields of physics and astronomy. They also provide mentoring and fellowship to physical scientists at all stages of their careers. Sigma Pi Sigma has over 90,000 lifelong members.

A high-energy physicist turned public service-oriented professional, de la Puente earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics at Florida International University and a doctorate in physics at the University of Notre Dame. Before joining AIP, de la Puente held a senior civilian analyst position within the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. He focused on analyses and studies to inform decision-makers, departmentwide process improvement, and digital transformation initiatives, as well as workforce training and development.

De la Puente has also worked at the TRIUMF laboratory in British Columbia, at the New York Academy of Science, and at Carleton University and Northern Virginia Community College. He was selected as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow and assigned to the National Science Foundation’s division on undergraduate education.

“At AIP, I will be standing on the shoulders of previous directors who have done an amazing job leading SPS , each with their own flavor, but all with great dedication,” said de la Puente. “I want to focus my passion and share what I have learned in my professional journey to cultivate the conditions and shared culture for students’ success and help them realize their personal and professional aspirations.

“I’m looking forward to engaging with and learning from my coworkers at AIP; the student and faculty volunteers on the SPS Council and Executive Committee, as well as from SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma broadly; and AIP’s Member Society and Affiliate leadership, all of whom share a dedication to fostering a robust connection within the physical sciences community to our undergraduate students.”

ABOUT AIP
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit, AIP is a federation that advances the success of our Member Societies and an institute that engages in research and analysis to empower positive change in the physical sciences. The mission of AIP (American Institute of Physics) is to advance, promote, and serve the physical sciences for the benefit of humanity.

ABOUT SPS
The Society of Physics Students is a professional association explicitly designed for undergraduates and their advisers, with membership open to students interested in physics or astronomy. SPS is a chapter-based society that exists to help students transform themselves into contributing members of the professional community. SPS is a member organization of AIP.

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