Getting involved with the APS is easier than ever — apply now for a Society Committee

One of the most common questions that I would hear while serving as the Teaching Section representative to the APS Committee on Committees (CoC) was, “How do I get more involved with The Society?” If you have wondered about that, the good news is that the application portal for APS Committee applications is now open. You have until 6 February to prepare and submit your materials.

To help you prepare, the CoC has released a detailed rubric with information about how each application is evaluated. In this article, we’ll go through the 6 key criteria, as well as some tips and strategies for putting together a strong, competitive application.

Another common question when applying for committees is whether your past experiences qualify you to submit a competitive application. The new rubric is designed to take your career stage into account during the selection process. A grad student and a senior faculty member will each have very different applications and you should not compare yourself to anyone else. Focus on your strengths, experiences, and credentials and highlight them in your application. It may take more than one application cycle to get selected for a committee, and the CoC rubric takes your established, sustained interest in serving the APS into consideration as well. Keep applying and note how your application has changed from previous years.

Criterion 1: Interest in serving on this APS Committee — Service often starts with interest and passion in the subject of the work. Becoming engaged with The Society requires more than just a general desire to “be more involved” or to “give back to the community.” It also requires a drive to inspire change and growth for our community. Take some time to read about the committees and the work it does on the APS website. Be specific about your reasons for applying to a committee. You are allowed to submit your application for up to two committees, but each application must be well-tailored to that committee.

Criterion 2: Special qualifications — This is another area in which you should tailor your application to the specific Committee to which you are applying. The needs of each committee are very different. Remember that your career stage is an important part of the evaluation. You don’t need to have experience in every area to score well. Highlight the work that you’ve done and how it relates to the focus of the Committee.

Criterion 3: Contribution to APS DEI goals — One of the key pillars of the APS strategic plan is furthering diversity, equity, and inclusion within the Society and its work. We want to make sure that physiology is a place where everyone is welcome and there are lots of ways to demonstrate your commitment to that goal. Refer to the APS Values, Policies, and Statements and the APS Diversity Statement using the links below. This is one of the most important areas on the rubric and the weighted value of this category reflects that. Make sure to take your time putting together your statement here.

Criterion 4: Broad academic interests and background — One of the strengths of the Society is how diverse it is, both in terms of the people that make up the organization as well as the academic and scientific areas of expertise that we research. Make sure that you promote your interests and areas of focus in clear language that is accessible to everyone, not just those in your specific field of research and study. This is a great chance to highlight your ability to communicate about science, technology, and education is clear, concise ways.

Criterion 5: Prior APS activities and other service — This is another area in your application that will depend on your career stage. You might be applying for your first service position as an early-stage grad student. Or you might be applying for the chair of a committee as a senior faculty member. Focus and highlight your experiences and achievements in your journey. Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your CV to anyone else’s — be confident in the work you have done and accomplishments that you have achieved.


Criterion 6: Endorsement letter — Take the time to meet with your endorser and discuss your goals for both your career and the work that you hope to do while serving on an APS Committee. The CoC is looking for your letter to specifically talk to your interests, passions, and potential contributions to the work of the Committee to which you are applying. If you are applying to two committees, make sure that your endorser is aware of this and that each letter should be specific for each of your applications. If you don’t have someone that can write you an endorsement letter, see the contact information below for society members that can help.

Tips and strategies:

  • Yes, you do have what it takes to apply for a committee! It doesn’t matter what career stage you are in. The only way to get involved is to apply. Focus on your application and highlight your career journey.
  • Start now and give yourself plenty of time to review and revise your materials and meet with your endorser. The committee is looking for well-written, high-quality responses to each of the 6 criteria in the application.
  • Ask for your endorsement letter early. A well-written letter takes time to prepare, and the beginning of the semester is busy for everyone. Get your request in now.
  • Use the rubric and make sure that you’ve followed the guidelines for each of the criteria closely.
  • Reach out for assistance if you have questions or are unsure about anything. There’s a list of contacts below that are available for anything you need.

Important links:

  • Learn about the APS Committees:
  • Review the Committee Application Process:
  • Access the Committee Application Rubric:
  • Refer to the APS Values, Policies, and Statements and the APS Diversity Statement:

Important contacts for preparing your materials:

  • I am the past Teaching Section representative to the CoC (2019 – 2022) and led the working group that created the new application rubric. I’m happy to meet with any APS members to answer questions about the application process and briefly review your materials. Email me at to set a time to meet.
  • Cyndi Metz is the current Teaching Section representative to the CoC. You can reach her at for questions about service opportunities within the Teaching Section as well as your application to serve on an APS Committee.
  • Other general questions concerning the application process can be directed to Dexter Lee (, Chair, Committee on Committees (CoC), and Sandra Spadoni (, APS staff liaison to the CoC.

Applications are due by 6 February 2023. Make sure that all of your materials are submitted before the due date so you don’t miss out on your chance to serve on a Society committee. Good luck and let us know if you need anything as you prepare your materials.

Ryan Downey, PhD, MA is an assistant professor of physiology at AUC School of Medicine and an adjunct assistant professor of physiology at Georgetown University. He earned a BA in biochemistry at Texas Tech University, a MS in physiology at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, a PhD in integrative biology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and a MA in learning, design, and technology from Georgetown University. He was a teaching postdoctoral fellow in the Fellowships in Research and Science Training (FIRST) Program at Emory University. Ryan joined the faculty at Georgetown University in 2017 where he was co-director of the graduate physiology program, teaching faculty, and a member of the Georgetown University Medical Center Teaching Academy for the Health Sciences. He moved his primary appointment to AUC in 2021. He serves as associate editor for the American Physiological Society journal, Advances in Physiology Education, and is a contributing author, editor, and content expert for Understand Your Physiology, an interactive, online study resource for physiology learning. Ryan is also a PADI scuba instructor and enthusiastic advocate for ocean conservancy and marine life stewardship.

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