Letter from the Editor

March Meeting 2019 is now in the history books, and with more than 12,000 attendee was the largest March Meeting yet, bad weather on Monday notwithstanding. Now, March Meeting 2020 will be quickly upon us (abstract submission deadline is Oct 25!), and FIAP is looking forward to exposing members to the latest in Industrial and Applied Physics. In this letter, we outline this year’s theme for Industry Day and FIAP-related events at March Meeting 2020, learn about the Quantum Economic Development Consortium, discover how physics influences food manufacturing, and come up to speed with this year’s Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Cynthia Keppel of Jefferson Lab. FIAP distributes this newsletter to ensure the larger community can follow the latest developments within the Forum, esp. at APS Meetings, to highlight FIAP activities and to engage with the Industrial and Applied Physics community. Any additional contributions are welcome, and we would like the newsletter to provide an outlet for discussions of interest to the FIAP membership. To submit articles, letters to the editor, or ideas for discussion, please contact me at

A Look Ahead to March Meeting 2020

Industrial and applied physicists often generate enormous value by creating new ways of looking at the world, both literally and figuratively. From medical imaging to the insights of data science and paradigm shifts like the rise of autonomous vehicles, we stand on the leading edge of expanding frontiers. Come join us in Denver next March and explore this year’s theme, “New Ways of Seeing.” FIAP will again present a world class program of invited talks, career-oriented content, and multiple opportunities to make new connections. In addition to this broad spectrum of topics, we need your contributed abstracts to make it a truly great event. Plan ahead now for the abstract submission deadline on October 25 and consider FIAP sorting categories #8 (Semiconductors) and #22 (Applications).

Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C)

Quantum Information Science is a hot topic in physics, and APS is active in several ways. The Division of Quantum Information (DQI) was formed in 2017 to bring together physicists working in many facets of this emerging field. QIS papers are published in APS journals, and there were many QIS sessions at the 2019 March Meeting. APS is also participating in the new Quantum Economic Development Consortium (QED-C), which is supported by NIST as a part of the National Quantum Initiative enacted on December 21, 2018. The QED-C mission is to enable and grow a robust U.S. commercial quantum industry, including for sensing, communications, and computing. The purpose and objectives of QED-C are1:

  • To support enabling technology R&D and enhance the quantum ecosystem: (e.g., quantum device components, instrumentation, and performance standards)
  • To facilitate industry coordination & interaction with Government agencies
  • Determine workforce needs essential to the development of quantum technologies
  • Provide efficient public-private sector coordination
  • Identify technology solutions for filling gaps in research or infrastructure
  • Highlight use cases to accelerate development efforts
  • Foster sharing of intellectual property, efficient supply chains, technology forecasting and quantum literacy

Several QED-C meetings have been held with participation from more than fifty small, medium, and large companies as well as several universities. Working committees have been established that include technical focus on the areas listed above. A Workforce Committee has also been formed to assess both the requirements from industry for skilled workers and to collect data for educational institutions on the courses and training resources that are being put in place. This committee is led by Steven Lambert, APS Industrial Physics Program Manager. APS is in a strong position to contribute to this effort due to our connections with industry, colleges and universities, and students. Contact Steven at if you’d like more information or if your organization might interested in joining QED-C.

The Need for Physics in Food Manufacturing

John Bows is an employee of PepsiCo Inc. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of PepsiCo Inc.

It surprises many academic and industrial researchers, across the spectrum of science and engineering disciplines, that the Food and Drink manufacturing sector is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, accounting for 20% of the UK manufacturing turnover1. This is more than the UK automotive and aerospace manufacturing sectors combined.

What isn’t surprising is that R&D spend correlates to GVA (Gross Value Added)2. Despite being the largest sector, food is not growing as fast as the automotive industry. Government intervention saw an Automotive Council established in 2009 and a Sector strategy published in 2012, with a c. 70% increase in GVA between 2008 and 2014 from a corresponding increase of 100% in R&D spend. In comparison, R&D spend on Food & Drink increased by 40% from 2008 to 2014, and GVA grew by 20%.

The need for R&D to drive the Food & Drink sectors’ needs and priorities has never been greater. With strong engagement across the food & drink supply chain, Innovate UK (the UK government’s innovation agency) published a report3 in 2018 highlighting 5 areas where research and industrial capability is needed to address the sectors “grand challenges”:

  1. Reducing food energy density
  2. Side-stream valorisation
  3. Sustainable new food sources for nutritional foods
  4. Flexible and scalable manufacturing
  5. Digital manufacturing

As a Physicist working in food process innovation within 2 major global companies (Unilever 1990-2005, PepsiCo since 2005), I am certainly the minority discipline - the only Physicist in PepsiCo R&D Europe. Bringing a physicist’s approach within multi-disciplinary teams can certainly strengthen innovation impact. In my case, I led the innovation of the world’s first raw rising dough microwave pizza using active antenna packaging (launched in Europe 1999)11, developed new imaging and measurement techniques with research partners (real-time dielectric measurements12 and real-time 3D X-Ray imaging13 during expansion of a snack microwave heating) and developed new process technology for lower fat snacks innovation (proprietary technology).

As the food sector pre-competitive “grand challenges” became better articulated against a backdrop of societal health & wellness needs, it struck me around 2015 that my professional body in the UK – the Institute of Physics – was not involved with the food manufacturing sector. That was quickly remedied when I connected with Anne Crean, the then newly appointed Head of Science & Innovation. Within 2 years, through a series of national engagement activities, we set-up the “Physics in Food Manufacturing” group, which I now chair10. We have had 3 international conferences since 2017, publish newsletters and present at physics conferences on food manufacturing innovation challenges.

Lays ChipsPhysics is starting to play a more visible role in solving food sector innovation challenges. PepsiCo was the first food company to win an Institute of Physics Business Innovation Award4 in 2018 for development of affordable snacks for consumers in emerging markets through application of soft matter physics (inc. Lay’s Twistz and Crispz in India). Unilever have committed core funding to support the annual Soft Matter symposium series5 over 5 years at Cambridge University. And there have been several high-profile food physics research publications produced in recent years 6,7,8,9.

There is also a lot of work to do in gender balance across physics – women in physics are still very much in the minority. The IOP published an excellent report with recommendation in 2018 on “Why not physics”14 looking at the lack of girls continuing physics higher education.

This is an exciting time for academic and industrial physicists to engage the food and drink manufacturing sector, with many opportunities and very interesting physics at the root of sector challenges, from mass personalisation of health & nutrition to net zero water usage factories. By building networks, relationships and ultimately working partnerships between associations like the IOP and APS, I hope more physicists can deliver breakthroughs against food manufacturing’s “grand challenges” which genuinely benefit health and wellness at societal scales.

PepsiCo R&D is engaged a wide scope of fundamental research that require multidisciplinary approaches; for example, in our Plano, TX R&D center, research areas include food/material/polymer sciences, advanced analytical techniques such as 3D-tomography and food-specific chromatographies, as well as multiphase computational fluid dynamics modeling and smart sensors. As a global company, in addition to laboratories in the UK and Texas, PepsiCo has key R&D centers located in New York, Illinois, Mexico, and Brazil, which not only allows PepsiCo to leverage the broad technical and scientific talent available across the globe, but also enables us to easily collaborate with world-class universities and research institutes.


  1. Food and Drink Federation:
  2. The Health of Physics in UK Food Manufacturing, October 2016
  3. Food & Drink Sector R&D Needs and Priorities: Alignment with the Industrial Strategy
  6. Physics World Nov 2016 – Physics of Food feature
  7. Soft matter food physics – the physics of food and cooking DOI:10.1088/0034-4885/78/12/124602
  8. Soft matter physics meets the culinary arts: From polymers to jellyfish DOI: 10.1016/j.ijgfs.2019.100135
  9. Celebrating Soft Matter’s 10th Anniversary: Simplicity in complexity – towards a soft matter physics of caramel DOI: 10.1039/c5sm01797a
  10. Physics in Food manufacturing group page
  11. Physics in Food Manufacturing Challenges - slide 13
  12. Dynamic measurement of dielectric properties of food snack pellets during microwave expansion DOI: 10.1016/j.jfoodeng.2017.01.021
  13. PepsiCo Explores Future Food Products at the ALS
  14. IOP Report – Why not physics?

John Bows, FInstP
PepsiCo Global R&D Fellow

Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics

Dr. Cynthia Keppel gave her inaugural lecture, titled “Career Opportunities from Fundamental Physics to Patient Treatments” at the March Meeting 2019 during FIAP Industry Day. She also gave a similar version of the lecture in January at the Conference on Undergraduate Women in Physics, in February at the University of Tennessee, in late March at Hampton University, and at the Jefferson Lab Summer Science Series in late July. Looking forward, she will also be lecturing at the APS Four Corners meeting on Oct 11th.

In addition to these lectures, Dr. Keppel also organized a series of lectures on physics technology applications for the annual Hampton University Graduate Studies (HUGS) Summer School at Jefferson Lab, which is designed for experimental and theoretical nuclear and particle physics graduate students who have finished their coursework and have at least one year of research experience in these fields.

We are also excited to announce that Dr. Keppel has been invited to speak at TEDxCharlottesville 2019, held at the historic Paramount Theater in beautiful downtown Charlottesville, Virginia on Friday, November 8, 2019.

Working at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Dr. Keppel received the award “For pioneering work in proton therapy and for the promotion of the applications of physics to both experts and non-experts". Each year, the Forum on Industrial and Applied Physics (FIAP) and the Committee on Careers and Professional Development (CCPD) recognize a physicist who has distinguished themselves in an industrial or non-academic career through the Distinguished Lectureship Award on the Applications of Physics. Would you like a colleague to be recognized for all that terrific work done over many years? More information on Dr. Keppel and the award can be found at this link.

TED X Charlottesville

FIAP Chair’s Thoughts

We want to hear from you! FIAP is dedicated to connecting physicists with the industrial world. We use the APS March Meeting as the main venue to celebrate the best and the most interesting research in industrial physics and help open up possible pathways for students and postdocs toward jobs in the private sector. Thanks to the concerted effort by the FIAP team over the years, Industry Day has become a mainstay of the March Meeting. Special thanks to our Chair Elect Michael Gordon and APS Industrial Fellow Steven Lambert for organizing a great FIAP program at the March Meeting this year. Some Industry Day sessions including Recent Advances in Spintronics-based Computing and Innovations from Industry were so full that they were standing room only. We are also grateful to our Past Chair Matt Kim for reviving the popular Physicists as Entrepreneurs session, reminding us that YOU, too, can start your own company as an exciting career option. At the same time, we would like to see more industrial physicists attend the March Meeting. We will keep introducing new FIAP sessions and events to this end. Let us know what YOU would like to see at the next March Meeting. You can contact me at Thanks!

Ichiro Takeuchi
FIAP Chair

Opinions expressed represent the views of the individual authors and not the American Physical Society or author’s employers.