International Union of Pure and Applied Physics

The International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP /ˈjuːpæp, ˈjuː-/) is an international non-governmental organization whose mission is to assist in the worldwide development of physics, to foster international cooperation in physics, and to help in the application of physics toward solving problems of concern to humanity.[1][3] It was established in 1922 and the first General Assembly was held in 1923 in Paris.[4]

International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
Formation1922 (1922)
PurposeTo stimulate and facilitate international cooperation in physics and the worldwide development of science [1]
Region served
Official language
Michel Spiro
WebsiteIUPAP Official website

IUPAP carries out this Mission by: sponsoring international meetings; fostering communications and publications; encouraging research and education; fostering the free circulation of scientists[5][6]; promoting international agreements on the use of symbols, units, nomenclature and standards[7][8]; and cooperating with other organizations on disciplinary and interdisciplinary problems.[9][10][11]

IUPAP is a member of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Committees and governance[12]

The Union is governed by its General Assembly, which meets every three years. The Council is its top executive body, supervising the activities of the nineteen specialized International Commissions and the four Affiliated Commissions – it typically meets once or twice per year. The Union is composed of Members representing identified physics communities. At present 60 Members adhere to IUPAP. The Members are represented by Liaison Committees. Members of the Council and Commissions are elected by the General Assembly, based on nominations received from Liaison Committees and existing Council and Commission members.

The IUPAP specialised Commissions are:

C1. Commission on Policy and Finance

C2. Commission on Symbols, Units, Nomenclature, Atomic Masses & Fundamental Constants

C3. Commission on Statistical Physics

C4. Commission on Astroparticle Physics. The commission was previously known as the Commission on Cosmic Rays.

C5. Commission on Low Temperature Physics

C6. Commission on Biological Physics

C8. Commission on Semiconductors

C9. Commission on Magnetism

C10. Commission on the Structure and Dynamics of Condensed Matter

C11. Commission on Particles and Fields

C12. Commission on Nuclear Physics

C13. Commission on Physics for Development

C14. Commission on Physics Education

C15. Commission on Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics

C16. Commission on Plasma Physics

C17. Commission on Laser Physics and Photonics

C18. Commission on Mathematical Physics

C19. Commission on Astrophysics

C20. Commission on Computational Physics

The Affiliated Commissions are:

AC.1. International Commission for Optics

AC.2. International Commission on General Relativity and Gravitation

AC.3. International Commission for Acoustics

AC.4. International Commission on Medical Physics

In addition IUPAP has established a number of Working Groups to provide an overview of important areas of international collaboration in physics.

Each year, IUPAP endorses approximately 30 international conferences and awards grants to the majority of them. Applications for sponsorship can be made via the IUPAP website.

Sponsored conferences fall into four categories:

General Conferences - Type A

These provide a broad overview of an entire field (typically the field of interest to a Commission), and normally occur at two- or three-year intervals, as advances in the field warrant. Attendance in the range of 750-1000 would be anticipated.

Topical Conferences - Type B

These concentrate on broad sub-fields (e.g. nuclear spectroscopy, nuclear reaction mechanisms, heavy ion physics, are possible sub-fields in the field of Nuclear Physics). They would normally be scheduled in the years between the corresponding Type A General conferences. Attendance in the range of 300-600 would be anticipated.

Special Conferences - Type C

These concentrate on much more specialised topics than in the case of Type B Conferences (e.g. angular correlations, lifetime measurements, neutron resonance studies in the field of Nuclear Physics). Attendance in the range of 50-200 would be anticipated.

Workshops in Developing Countries - Type D

These concentrate on meeting the needs of a developing region. Unlike the Type A, B and C conferences, they do not need to be truly international, but should involve neighbouring countries, and they should address the needs of the region. One Type D conference will be approved each year. All applications for Type-D Conferences must be submitted to the Commission on Physics for Development (C13).

IUPAP commissions sponsor various awards for scientists. These include:

  • The IUPAP Young Scientist Prize, approved and adopted at the 2005 General Assembly for all commissions.
  • The SUNAMCO Medal, given by the Commission on Symbols, Units, Nomenclature, Atomic Masses and Fundamental Constants (C2)
  • The Boltzmann Medal, awarded by the Commission on Statistical Physics (C3)
  • The Fritz London Award, given by the Commission on Low Temperature Physics (C5)
  • The Young Author Best Paper Award, established by the Commission on Semiconductors (C8) and sponsored by the semiconductor industries of USA, Japan and Europe
  • ICM Award in Magnetism, established by the Commission on Magnetism (C9)
  • The ICPE Medal, sponsored by the Commission on Physics Education (C14)
  • Penning Award Excellence in Low-Temperature Plasma Physics, established by the Commission on Plasma Physics (C16)
  • ICO Prize, awarded by the Affiliated Commission for Optics (AC1)
  • ICO Galileo Galilei Award, awarded by the Affiliated Commission for Optics (AC1)

List of IUPAP presidents

Term President Country
1922–1931 Sir William Bragg[3]  United Kingdom
1931–1934 Robert Millikan[9]  USA
1934–1947 Manne Siegbahn[4]  Sweden
1947–1951 Hans Kramers[13]  Netherlands
1951–1957 Neville Francis Mott[14][15]  United Kingdom
1957–1960 Edoardo Amaldi[16]  Italy
1960–1963 Homi J. Bhabha[4]  India
1963–1966 Louis Néel[4]  France
1966–1969 D.I. Blokhintsev[17]  Soviet Union
1969–1972 Robert Bacher[9]  USA
1972–1975 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz[18]  Germany
1975–1978 Sir Clifford Charles Butler[19]  United Kingdom
1978–1981 Leonard Sosnowski[20]  Poland
1981–1984 Kai Siegbahn  Sweden
1984–1987 D. Allan Bromley[21]  Canada
1987–1990 Larkin Kerwin  Canada USA
1990–1993 Yuriĭ Andreevich Osip'yan[22]  Soviet Union Russia
1993–1996 Yoshio Yamaguchi[23]  Japan
1996–1999 Jan S. Nilsson[24][25]  Sweden
1999–2002 Burton Richter[26][27]  USA
2002–2005 Yves Petroff  France
2005–2008 Alan Astbury[28]  Canada
2008–2011 Sukekatsu Ushioda  Japan
2011–2014 Cecilia Jarlskog[29]  Sweden
2014–2017 Bruce McKellar[30]  Australia
2017–2019 Kennedy J. Reed[29]  USA
2019– Michel Spiro  France

See also


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  3. Nilsson, Jan (1996). "What can IUPAP do for you?". Physics World. 9 (12): 13–14. doi:10.1088/2058-7058/9/12/12. ISSN 0953-8585.
  4. Brown, Sanborn C (September 1972). Physics 50 Years Later: [Papers] as Presented to the XIV General Assembly of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics on the Occasion of the Union's Fiftieth Anniversary. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. p. 436. doi:10.17226/20232. ISBN 978-0-309-02138-8.
  5. Kerwin, Larkin (1973). "IUPAP on freedom". Physics Today. 26 (12): 11. doi:10.1063/1.3128352. ISSN 0031-9228.
  6. Davis, Harold L. (1972). "IUPAP–A union for all physicists". Physics Today. 25 (9): 88. doi:10.1063/1.3071031. ISSN 0031-9228.
  7. Fleury, P.; de Boer, J. (1962). "Symbols units and nomenclature in physics". Physics Today. 15 (6): 20–30. doi:10.1063/1.3058223. ISSN 0031-9228.
  8. "IUPAP handbook on symbols and units". Physics Today. 35 (9): 21. 1982. doi:10.1063/1.2915257. ISSN 0031-9228.
  9. Bacher, Robert F.; Havens, William W.; Koch, H. William; Marshak, Robert E.; Seitz, Frederick (1972). "IUPAP–Past and future". Physics Today. 25 (9): 23–28. doi:10.1063/1.3070995. ISSN 0031-9228.
  10. IUPAP About Us.
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  14. Slater, J. C. (1952). "IUPAP Executive Committee". Physics Today. 5 (9): 32–33. doi:10.1063/1.3067746. ISSN 0031-9228.
  15. Wheeler, John A. (1954). "IUPAP Assembly". Physics Today. 7 (9): 28–29. doi:10.1063/1.3061774. ISSN 0031-9228.
  16. "IUPAP 9th General Assembly". Physics Today. 11 (1): 46–47. 1958. doi:10.1063/1.3062393. ISSN 0031-9228.
  17. Mayer, Meinhard E. (1979). "Dmitrii Ivanovich Blokhintsev". Physics Today. 32 (7): 62–63. doi:10.1063/1.2995633. ISSN 0031-9228.
  18. "New honorary fellow". Physics Bulletin. 30 (4): 141. 1979. doi:10.1088/0031-9112/30/4/003. ISSN 0031-9112.
  19. Butterworth, Ian (2001). "Sir Clifford Charles Butler. 20 May 1922 – 30 June 1999". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 47: 39–54. doi:10.1098/rsbm.2001.0003. ISSN 0080-4606.
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  21. Sweet, William (1985). "IUPAP President Bromley Worries About "Isolation" of US Physicists". Physics Today. 38 (4): 79. doi:10.1063/1.2814526. ISSN 0031-9228.
  22. Alferov, Zhores I; Andreev, Aleksandr F; Borovik-Romanov, A S; Vaĭnshteĭn, B K; Gantmakher, Vsevolod F; Keldysh, Leonid V; Nikitenko, V I; Ponyatovskiĭ, E G; Timofeev, Vladislav B; Khalatnikov, I M; Shekhtman, V Sh; Shchegolev, I F (1991). "Yuriĭ Andreevich Osip'yan (on his sixtieth birthday)". Soviet Physics Uspekhi. 34 (2): 202–203. doi:10.1070/PU1991v034n02ABEH002340. ISSN 0038-5670.
  23. Sakai, Norisuke (2017). "Yoshio Yamaguchi". Physics Today. 70 (7): 72. doi:10.1063/PT.3.3636. ISSN 0031-9228.
  24. Feder, Toni (1996). "IUPAP General Assembly Held in Sweden". Physics Today. 49 (11): 74. doi:10.1063/1.881552. ISSN 0031-9228.
  25. "In Memoriam: Jan S. Nilsson, 1932 - 2010". ICTP. 2010-06-16. Retrieved 2019-10-14.
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  28. van Oers, Willem T. H.; Crabb, Donald G.; Prok, Yelena; Poelker, Matt; Liuti, Simonetta; Day, Donal B.; Zheng, Xiaochao (2009). "Introductory Remarks on Behalf of IUPAP". AIP Conference Proceedings: 3–8. doi:10.1063/1.3215675.
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