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The APCTP Celebrates its 20th Anniversary
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The APCTP Celebrates its 20th Anniversary


Official photo of the APCTP 20th Anniversary celebration.

The Asia Pacific Center for Theoretical Physics (APCTP) was established in 1996 in Seoul, Korea with Professor C.N. Yang as the Founding President. In this momentous year, the APCTP signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Trieste, Italy and the Korean Government announced its support for the APCTP at the APEC Science Ministers Meeting in Seoul.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the APCTP's founding. On 24th March, in the POSCO International Center with around 100 well wishers in attendance, the APCTP formally celebrated this special occasion. The formalities started with welcoming speeches by President Bum-Hoon Lee and myself. This was followed by an introduction to the APCTP by Han-Yong Choi (APCTP Executive Director) and commemorative remarks by Nguyen van Hieu (former Chair of the Board of Trustees), Peter Fulde (former APCTP President) and Seunghwan Kim (former APCTP President). Among the memorable speeches, it was very pleasing to hear Doh-Yeon Kim (President of POSTECH) and Kang-duk Lee (Mayor of Pohang City) praise the achievements of the APCTP and to reaffirm their continuing commitment to support the APCTP.

The multimedia celebrations were multifaceted and incorporated a traditional Korean drum performance and the screening of a commemorative video. In recognition of distinguished service by its officers and staff, the APCTP awarded Certificates of Appreciation to Su-Ok Kim, Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MISP), National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), Korean Physical Society (KPS), Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, Pohang City, Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH). Certificates of Achievement were awarded to Nguyen van Hieu, Won Namkung, Doochul Kim, Peter Fulde, Seunghwan Kim, Hee Sung Song, Chung Nam Whang, Yuan T. Lee, Sooyoung Chang, Byung-Taik Kim, Kazuo Fujikawa, In-Mook Kim. Certificates of Commendation were awarded to Juhyun Park, Seunglae Cho, Ok-Seon Kim and Changho Kim. The President also used the occasion to enunciate the "Declaration of the APCTP for the future of the science community in the Asia-Pacific region". The ceremony culminated, with much flare and fanfare, with a ceremonial waving of the APCTP flag, the dramatic unfurling of huge APCTP banners and the explosive firing of party poppers.

The 20th anniversary plaque and commemorative tree planting ceremony.

In many cultures around the world, turning 20 is a "coming of age" — a time to move forward from the youthful exuberance of formative years, to enter adulthood and to plan for the years ahead with all of the wisdom that maturity brings. And so too, for the APCTP, in reaching this milestone it is a time for celebration and a time for reflection — on achievements to date and on the challenges that lie ahead. Indeed, the APCTP has much to celebrate. Under the guidance of Presidents C.N. Yang, Robert Laughlin, Peter Fulde, Seunghwan Kim and Bum-Hoon Lee, the APCTP has made steady progress over the last 20 years. The APCTP now boasts 15 Member Countries in the Asia-Pacific region with the notable addition of Canada as a new Member Country this year.

Let me just highlight the terms and milestones of our three Presidents since 2007. This is the year Peter Fulde became President and, coincidentally, the year I joined the APCTP Board. Under an agreement with the Max Planck Institute (MPG), Peter Fulde immediately established an in-house JRG Research Program at the APCTP. This was modelled on the Junior Research Groups (JRGs) that worked so successfully at the Max Planck Center for Complex Systems in Dresden, Germany where Peter Fulde served as Director for many years. This key program has become a focus for APCTP activity and, in recent years, has expanded to 8 JRGs.

In 2013, Seunghwan Kim was elected as the first Korean President of the APCTP. Seunghwan Kim brought with him many years of experience serving as the APCTP Executive Director. The appointment of the first Korean APCTP President was a natural and welcome development that recognizes the great advances that are being made in Science and Technology in Korea and acknowledges the rapidly rising standing of Korea in the international scientific community.

In 2015, Bum-Hoon Lee was elected as the second Korean President of the APCTP. In an August 2015 article of the AAPPS Bulletin, he outlines his vision for shaping the future of the APCTP and attaining research excellence. Most importantly, he identifies "internationalization" as a key to securing the future of the APCTP and achieving the goals he sets out.

Cutting the 20th anniversary cake at the banquet.

The evolving scientific environment surely needs to be taken into account in planning to meet the challenges that the APCTP will face in the future. The structural organization of Centers of Theoretical Physics is changing both internationally and within the Asia-Pacific region. In an ambitious initiative, Fernando Quevedo (Director of the ICTP) is forming a global network of Partner Institutes with partners already established in Brazil, Mexico, Turkey and Rwanda. Another Partner Institute (ICTP Asia-Pacific) is being formed in Beijing, China under the leadership of Yue-Liang Wu (Chair, APCTP General Council). In an unrelated development, Nguyen van Hieu announced in his commemorative remarks that the Institutes of Physics and Mathematics (within the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology) have separately achieved UNESCO Category 2 status and that a "mini-APCTP" is being formed in Hanoi. To remain relevant in the region, it is abundantly clear that the APCTP must strive to be fully integrated with the emerging international and regional networks.

Closing the cycle on the events of 1996, it is encouraging to see that the interaction of the APCTP with the ICTP continues and has been reinvigorated with the formation this year of an ICTP Affiliated Center in Quantitative Life Sciences at the APCTP. Further avenues for strengthening ties between the APCTP and ICTP, for example, by forming a regional network are currently being explored. Likewise, last year witnessed the reconnection of the APCTP with APEC through their endorsement of the Young Scientist Training Program. But much more work lies ahead for the APCTP in strengthening engagement and networking in the region and internationally.

The APCTP has come a long way in the last 20 years. With the continuing support of the Korean Government, our Member Countries and Institutes, POSTECH, the local Pohang community and the hard-working APCTP officers and staff, we look forward to even greater growth in the next 20 years.

Paul A. Pearce is a Professor in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Melbourne University in Australia. His research area is Mathematical Physics. He received his PhD from Melbourne University in 1977 and returned there in 1985 after working as a Theoretical Physics Research Fellow at Carnegie-Mellon University, Princeton Institute of Advanced Study and the Australian National University. He joined the APCTP Board of Trustees in 2007 and was appointed as its Chair in 2013.

AAPPS Bulletin        ISSN: 2309-4710
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