HEAD Meetings



The Minutes of the Executive Committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society.

January 4, 2010 - Washington, DC

The Executive Committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on January 4, 2010 at the AAS meeting in Washington, D.C. at approximately 6:15PM. Present were Chryssa Kouveliotou (vice-chair), Ann Hornschemeier (secretary-treasurer), Committee members Dieter Hartmann, Dale Frail, Paul Ray, and Scott Ransom. Incoming members Joel Bregman (vice-chair elect) and Frits Paerels were also in attendance as was John Vallerga, President of Eureka Scientific.

The following issues were discussed --

Election Results

253 of the 1003 current HEAD members voted in the fall election. This 25% participation rate is higher than last year's (221 members, 23%) and perhaps just slightly higher than what is typical in AAS regular elections (18-22%). Ann did send out more reminders this year but we'll continue to try to improve voter participation if we can in the future.

Joel Bregman (Michigan) was elected as the new vice-chair (2010-2016, 2 years as vice-chair, chair and past chair). Three new HEAD Executive Committee members will serve from the end of this 2010 AAS meeting to the end of the 2012 AAS meeting in Seattle: Jack Hughes (Rutgers), Frits Paerels (Columbia), and Belinda Wilkes (CfA/Harvard). If the bylaw changes pass (see below) then these three new EC members will have 3 year terms. Three EC members are rotating off this year: Dale Frail, Angela Olinto and Dieter Hartmann.

Final HEAD 2010 Preparations

There is generous financial support for the next HEAD meeting (March 1-4 2010 in Hawaii) from NASA missions, including Fermi, Suzaku, Swift, Chandra, XMM, RXTE and IXO. These contributions have permitted us to "buy down" the registration fee for all HEAD members by nearly $200 per person. Additionally, Ball Aerospace and Northrop Grumman are helping with sponsoring coffee breaks.

Chryssa Kouveliotou stated that all but one of the invited speakers are confirmed. We should have the list up on the website very soon. The program is also nearly final. She anticipates giving it her final approval on/around Monday, January 11, 2010 which should support a public release of the program before the registration deadline of January 15. Currently, there are 502 abstracts (467 unique), not including the invited speakers, so this will be a large HEAD meeting.

Frits Paerels agreed to help take notes at the HEAD executive meeting in Hawaii since Ann is unable to be present as secretary to take notes.

We expect to hear back "any minute" from NSF with the final word on the $15K grant for travel for early-career researchers (grad students and postdocs less than 3 years past PhD). HEAD and Eureka Scientific agree to work to use some of the HEAD allocation to sponsor up to $4K in childcare grants for the HEAD meeting. Joel Bregman and Ann Hornschemeier are working on a draft announcement to the membership that should go out before January 15, 2010.

HEAD 2011

The plan is to have the next HEAD meeting 18 months after the March 2010 HEAD meeting as has been the convention for most meetings in the past. The bylaws state that a HEAD division meeting should occur every 1-2 years.

The venue for the next HEAD meeting will be selected by the Executive Committee in March 2010 in Hawaii. This decision has become more complex given that the size of HEAD meetings has grown to ~400 attendees or larger. There is some preference among members of the committee to try to hold the meeting in the eastern U.S. given that the last four or so meetings have been in the western U.S. Eureka Scientific will gather costs on venues such as Las Vegas, New York City, Bar Harbor (Maine), New Orleans and Napa Valley. Other venues discussed included Estes Park (too small), Philadelphia, Memphis and Chicago. John will try to send some estimates around to the committee before the Hawaii meeting so a decision may be reached in Hawaii.

HEAD Finances

The HEAD account and budget was also discussed. There is currently a reserve of $57.1K in the HEAD account, as of September 30, 2009 (third quarter, fourth quarter financial reports are not available at this time). This does not include ~$5K in anticipated expenses for our three prizes, so the `real' financial reserves amount is closer to $52.1K. HEAD earned $4.1K on its investments and also took in $800 in interest (compared with a loss of $11K last year on HEAD investments).

Among the large divisions, HEAD has the lowest cash reserves. For instance, DPS has a $100K prize endowment and a separate operating account. Three options for increasing the HEAD financial reserves were discussed. These include raising dues, having a campaign for HEAD prizes in the membership renewal process (such contributions would be tax-deductible) and having larger financial returns to HEAD from its division meetings. For HEAD 2010, the 'HEAD allocation' has been increased from approximately $6K to approximately $20K so the third option is being implemented. The HEAD allocation includes funds for travel for the Schramm and dissertation prize winners, and other associated costs for the HEAD Executive Committee at the meeting (we anticipate much of this coming back to HEAD in 2010).

Overall, the committee supports an increase in dues (starting in 2011) from $10 to $20 per person (excluding emeritus and junior members who would still pay $10). Ann will get more information from the AAS executive office on a "campaign for HEAD prizes" in the 2011 membership renewal statements (what options are available, etc.).

Election Bylaw Change

Three proposed changes to the HEAD bylaws were discussed. These have already been presented to the full HEAD membership on three occasions: at the HEAD business meeting in January 2009 in Long Beach, and in two newsletters (May 2009 and November 2009). The bylaw changes were presented to the AAS council in June 2009 and unanimously approved. The final step before the special election (in late January/early February) is to present the bylaw changes to the membership at the January 2010 business meeting at the Washington D.C. AAS meeting.

The three proposed changes are:
  1. Changing email voting to 'voting by electronic means' to permit use of e.g., the AAS web page voting system.
  2. Removing outdated language referring to the 'transferral of abstracts' by the secretary-treasurer to the AAS within 5 days after the HEAD meeting. This occurs automatically as the AAS gathers the abstracts in the first place.
  3. Extending executive committee terms from 2 years to 3 years.

Congressional Visits Day, April 28-29, 2010

Last year HEAD sent Chryssa Kouveliotou, Ann Hornschemeier, Dieter Hartmann and Julia Lee to Washington D.C. for the annual Congressional Visits Day. This was a very positive experience which the HEAD EC would like to continue to support.

This year CVD will be held April 28-29, 2010. Frits Paerels volunteered to represent the HEAD EC and Paul Ray said he might be able to go but must check. Mitch, Chryssa, Ann, Scott and Joel are unfortunately unavailable. Ann will check with Jack Hughes, Belinda Wilkes and Julia Lee to see if they are available this year.

May Newsletter Delay

Given that the NASA Senior Review results are due to come out sometime in May, the HEAD EC agreed to have the newsletter submission deadline be May 30, 2010 and have the newsletter 'published' in June 2010.

Schramm prize discussion

Megan Watzke reported to Chryssa that the Schramm prize winner will be selected by January 15, 2010.

Rossi Prize

The committee agreed that the 2010 Rossi prize will be awarded to Felix Aharonian, Werner Hoffmann, Heinz Voelk and the H.E.S.S. collaboration for "their outstanding contributions to imaging TeV Astronomy, which addressed fundamental questions related to particle acceleration and the origin of the Cosmic Rays through the study of SNRs, PWN and nearby AGN." They will deliver their prize lecture at the January 2011 AAS meeting in Seattle, WA.

As there were no further items, the meeting was adjourned.

These minutes were prepared by Ann Hornschemeier, Secretary-Treasurer, High Energy Astrophysics Division, American Astronomical Society.