UChicago scientist Young-Kee Kim elected to presidency of the American Physical Society

Distinguished experimental particle physicist will be ninth UChicago professor to serve in APS presidential leadership

Prof. Young-Kee Kim, an eminent experimental physicist at the University of Chicago, has been elected future president of the American Physical Society. She will assume the position in 2024, when she will become the ninth UChicago scientist to do so.

Founded in 1899, the American Physical Society is an association of physicists which works to advance the knowledge of physics. With more than 55,000 members, the APS is active in public and governmental affairs, publishes multiple science journals, and conducts extensive programs in education, public outreach and media relations.

Starting Jan. 1, 2022, Kim will serve successive yearlong terms as vice president, president-elect, president and past-president. Robert Rosner, William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute, will become president in 2023, followed by Kim in 2024.

“I am humbled by this moment and deeply grateful to my colleagues for their confidence and the opportunity to serve this amazing society,” said Kim, chair and Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute, and senior advisor to the provost for global scientific initiatives.

“The mission of APS is to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics for the benefit of humanity, promote physics, and serve the broader physics community. Never have these goals been more important than the present,” she said.

“Issues such as public disregard of scientific expertise have been amplified during the pandemic. Open international scientific collaboration has become challenging. Building trust with the public at large is critical,” she added.

As senior advisor to the provost for global scientific initiatives since Autumn 2020, Kim has been an ambassador for UChicago in the global community, gaining expertise as a reviewer of international cross-collaborative science initiatives that create opportunities for faculty and students globally.

Kim is an experimental particle physicist, and devotes much of her research to understanding the origin of mass for fundamental particles. She also chairs a department that is very engaged with the University’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.

“The sad events of the last two years have awoken many of us to continuing racial injustices, and the physics community is not immune to these event,” she said. “Despite some progress, equity, diversity, and inclusion, and attracting diverse talents to physics are enormous challenges. Rapid changes in government policies during the pandemic further illustrate the importance of forward-looking but calm and sober voices from APS leadership in order to promote effective communication with government leaders.”

“I remain confident that we as a society can deal successfully with our challenges. I am honored to serve in the presidential line during these difficult times,” she said.

Kim joined the faculty of the University of Chicago in 2003 and has been chair of the Department of Physics since 2016. Between 2004 and 2006, she co-led the Collider Detector at Fermilab experiment, a collaboration with more than 600 particle physicists from around the world. She is currently working on the ATLAS particle physics experiment at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, as well as on accelerator physics research. She was deputy director of Fermilab between 2006 and 2013 and has served on numerous national and international advisory committees and boards. She chaired the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society in 2020 and will serve the Korean American Scientists and Engineers Association as president in 2022.

Kim is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Sloan Foundation. She received the Ho-Am Prize, the Women in Science Leadership Award from the Chicago Council of Science and Technology, the University of Rochester’s Distinguished Scholar Medal, and Korea University’s Alumni Award.

In addition to Rosner, seven UChicago scientists have previously served as president of the APS: Albert A. Michelson in 1901, Robert Millikan in 1916, Arthur Holly Compton in 1934, Enrico Fermi in 1953, Robert R. Wilson in 1985, Leo Kadanoff in 2007, and Michael Turner in 2013. Three alumni have also served as president: Luis Alvarez in 1969, Mildred Dresselhaus in 1984, and Marvin L. Cohen in 2005.

Read more from the APS in their election announcement.