The Advanced Laboratory Physics Association (ALPhA) is an association of college and university faculty and staff dedicated to advanced experimental physics instruction. ALPhA was formed in November 2007 with the election of its first officers, and has over 250 members. ALPhA is independent and separate from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the American Physics Society (APS), and the Optical Society of America (OSA); however, it works with these organizations in pursuit of common goals and seeks affiliate status with each. In early 2010, ALPhA became an affiliate of the AAPT.
ALPhA sponsored a series of Laboratory Immersions in 2010, where advanced laboratory instructors could spend one to three days with a single experiment in the company of an experienced mentor. These were wildly successful, and ALPhA’s two subsequent proposals to the NSF to support a similar series of Immersions, first for 2011, and a second for each of the years 2013-2015, have been funded. See http://www.advlab.org/immersions.html for the current offerings.
ALPhA was a sponsor of the 2009 Topical Conference on Advanced Laboratories that was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in July 2009. This conference drew widespread interest and over a hundred attendees, and confirmed the need for more focus on the Advanced Lab. In response, ALPhA was the prime mover in organizing two follow-up topical conferences on laboratory instruction, Beyond the First Year of College (Buffy) in 2012 and Buffy II which were hailed as wonderful conferences for discussing advanced physics laboratory topics of all kinds. Discussion is now beginning on a fourth topical conference to follow up on the outcomes of the work that's underway and the future of the advanced lab.
In 2005—06 the AAPT formed an Advanced Laboratory Task Force to investigate the issues surround the Advanced Laboratory. The report is here: Advanced Lab Task Force Final Report. Some history behind the Task Force may be found in Harvey Leff's commentary on the Advanced Physics Laboratory The issues mentioned in the above articles all highlight the need for more support for the Advanced Lab.
Individuals interested in supporting or obtaining support for the Advanced Lab are strongly encouraged to join ALPhA—it’s only $30 this year to join. Your membership helps to provide evidence of the need for more support, at all levels, for instruction in advanced experimental physics. Your financial contribution helps support our satellite meetings at the meetings of other scientific organizations. Also, join the Advanced Labs listserv, advlabs-l, a discussion and announcement form run by the AAPT. To join, point your browser to http://advlabs.aapt.org/items/detail.cfm?ID=4833 and follow the links therein. Finally, check the AAPT’s Advanced Labs Website for additional materials.