home - login - register

PERLOC Member Summary of Roles and Responsibilities


From the PER Topical Group (PERTG) bylaws (IV.2), PERLOC's responsibilities shall include, but not be limited to:
  1. Overseeing the organization and running of an annual Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) and its associated Proceedings.
  2. Managing the collection and disbursement of PERTG funds.
  3. Communicating any relevant matters to the PERTG membership through appropriate channels (e.g., the PERTG Town Hall, email, any PERTG or AAPT websites or newsletters, and/or relevant journals or other publications).
  4. Ensuring the adherence of PERTG to these Bylaws.V.2.

However, PERLOC members typically engage in additional activities such as:
  • Coordinate with RIPE Committee on election of PERLOC members.
  • Participate in the formation of working groups including the Working Group on Conference Accessibility (WGCA) and the Anti-Racism Working Group.
  • Create policy for PERTG community about, for example, conference-supported social events, conference presentation accessibility standards, social media ethics/community standards, conference code of conduct, and others.
  • Interface with AAPT staff and committees (e.g., Committee on Diversity) to manage PERTG and the PERC.
  • Respond to community requests about, for example, instances of possible unethical community member behavior, support for community projects, and lack of diversity in PERTG leadership.

Structure of PERLOC

PERLOC is composed of 8 PERTG members including 6 regular members, a graduate student member, and an ex-officio member held by the current Research in Physics Education (RiPE) committee chair. There are also multiple roles that members can hold (as voted on by PERLOC members) including:
    Chair or vice-chair: Extra meetings about special topics, drafting public communications, email (particularly the chair).
  • Treasurer: Coordinating with AAPT to get budget information, estimating funds available for mini-grants.
  • Mini-grant administration: Review and discuss applications, make decisions about funds to award.
  • PERC liaison: Coordinating meetings with PERC leaders  (organizers, editors, and AAPT staff), communicating between PERLOC and PERC organizers as questions come up. Extra meetings are typically monthly until mid-summer, then approximately twice a month.
  • GPER liaison: Attend monthly APS GPER meetings and communicate initiatives between GPER Executive Committee and PERLOC members.
  • Other tasks as they come up: In the last few years, this has included the conference accessibility working group, overhauling the PERC proceedings, and handling ethics issues brought to PERLOC by community members.

Time Commitment

The minimum expected time commitment as written in the PERLOC bylaws is a 1-hour meeting each month and many PERLOC members spend time on other projects throughout the year. However, in this last year PERLOC met twice per month to allow the council to address time-sensitive requests that have arisen due to current events and the evolving nature of the PERTG community and many PERLOC members attend additional meetings pertinent to their role.

We estimate approximately 2 hours per month to attend routine PERLOC meetings, 2-3 hours per month to attend role-specific routine meetings (e.g., PERC coordination meeting, working group meetings, meetings with AAPT staff and committees, meetings with individual community meetings), 1-5 hours per month (depending on the role) to contribute to PERLOC's initiatives and functioning outside of meetings, and 1 hour per month to communicate with PERLOC members and the PERTG community. This totals to approximately 6 to 11 hours per month of time. When unforeseen challenges arise (e.g., COVID-19 pandemic), the time commitment can increase. (PERLOC recognizes that it is unsustainable for the PERLOC member position to be unpaid with the realistic time commitment taken into account. PERLOC is working to find a sustainable funding source to compensate members for their time, but this has not come to fruition yet.)

Term length: PERLOC terms are normally three years. If a PERLOC member must depart early, the preferred solution is to elect a new member to serve out the remaining time. In the 2022 election, two regular members and one graduate student member are being elected.

Qualities of a Successful PERLOC Member

PERLOC members are diverse in their interests, strengths, and backgrounds. However, here are a few qualities that the current 2021 PERLOC members believe are important for a successful PERLOC member:
  • Familiarity with the PER community, particularly with aspects of the community that will be important for leadership and policy setting (e.g., academia's power dynamics; diversity, equity, and inclusion).
  • Commitment to improving and supporting the field of PER even if that means changing the field.
  • Ability to take and respond productively to feedback (sometimes critical) from the community.
  • Responsive via email, sometimes on a short time scale for urgent items.
  • Good team/collaborative skills since most decision making is consensus based.
  • Willingness to 'do the work' (i.e., not just looking for a CV item).
  • Willingness to accept the risks inherent in serving in a public facing leadership role in a diverse, hierarchical, changing community.
In addition, PERLOC benefits from members with diverse experiences and viewpoints.

Possible benefits and risks

One key benefit of being a PERLOC member is you get to help the PERTG community! In particular:
  • Support the Physics Education Research Conference (PERC) by recruiting organizers and coordinating between them and AAPT.
  • Support PERC proceedings by recruiting editors and supporting editors.
  • Promote initiatives like mini-grants or conference accessibility that benefit community members.
  • Gain knowledge of the inner workings of AAPT, PERTG, and PER community more generally.
  • Being on PERLOC is also good for networking and connections with other PER faculty, AAPT staff, and neighbor units in the American Physical Society.

However, PERLOC is sometimes the target of criticism or community ire. This may be a particular concern for more junior or otherwise vulnerable members. Additional possible risks include:
  • PERLOC members are volunteers and, in the past, have been asked to take on labor that significantly increased the time commitment.
  • The community does not have a consistent view of the role of PERLOC which at times leads to a mismatch between community expectations, PERLOC members' expectations, and PERLOC members' available time, needs, and interests.
  • PERLOC is the organizing and leadership body of PERTG which is housed within AAPT. There are aspects of conference planning and community logistics (e.g., PERTG listserv) that are outside of the control of PERLOC members. When the desires of the community do not match the actions taken by non-PERLOC members, this can cause tension.
  • PERLOC is routinely asked to take on a myriad of community-wide projects that are outside the scope listed in the bylaws. In the past, community members have expressed their displeasure with the time it takes for action on such projects and/or when PERLOC decides to not take up a community suggestion.

Elections Process

If you are interested in being a PERLOC member, you may nominate yourself by reaching out to the RiPE chair. Additionally, if you know someone who may be interested in being on PERLOC, please send their name and email address to the current RiPE chair as well (or reach out to the interested party directly and encourage them to apply). See Article VI of the PERTG bylaws for a description of the election process and see the PERLOC election process description for how PERLOC plans to run the elections.


This position description has been designed to indicate the general nature of the position and time commitment. It does not contain a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities, and time commitment, and does not constitute a contract of employment. This description should be routinely reviewed and updated to reflect the evolving nature of the PER community. The Physics Education Research Topical Group (PERTG) is committed to diversity and welcomes applications from minorities, people of color, people of all genders and sexual orientations, and disabled people.