HEAD Meetings



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

March 2010 - Hawaii

Present: Chryssa Kouveliotou (Chair), Frits Paerels, Mitch Begelman, John Vallerga (Eureka Scientific), Joel Bregman, Trish Dobson (Conference Connection), Julia Lee, Megan Watzke (CfA), Paul Ray, Scott Ransom; by telephone: Ann Hornschemeier, Kevin Marvel, Belinda Wilkes.

1. The Chair opens discussion on the two possible options for organizing future HEAD meetings: by Eureka Scientific, or by the AAS itself. Kevin Marvel presents arguments for adopting the AAS option: HEAD has the lowest resources of any division of the AAS; if the AAS does the meetings, it will do so at cost, and return any profit to HEAD. DDA and DPS meetings are run that way, and the buildup of resources can be rapid and substantial.

Kevin, in response to a question from Paul R., states that the expected profits on a single meeting could be $30,000. Chryssa states skepticism wrt to this number, she has heard different numbers (e.g. DPS). Kevin's response is that DPS did lose on two previous meetings (Ithaca, Orlando), total 130 + 270K. Last meeting yielded 129K profit. Chryssa would like to independently verify the information.

John Vallerga presents arguments for selecting Eureka Scientific. For this meeting, Eureka set apart 25K to return to HEAD (minus small amounts for prize winner travel: $1500 for Brian Metzger). John emphasizes style of the meetings organized by Eureka; the meetings run by AAS tend to be bare-bones. Also, any losses are Eureka's risk, not the HEAD's. Scott R. asks for clarification of the 'style'; Kevin M. emphasizes the potential for building up resources for HEAD, which leads to the choice of a no-frills approach to meetings (food, give-aways, etc.). But this is at the discretion of the HEAD of course. A discussion on the allocation of losses and risk occurs. The AAS will also absorb losses (but at the expense of AAS funds, and HEAD is a member division).

2. The committee informally evaluates the current meeting; there is general satisfaction (great reception, etc.). Afternoon sessions appear to be thinly attended. Ann H. reports on the $12.5K from NSF for travel/childcare. Given the large amount of paperwork associated with grant, this may not be worth it. We may be able to just do it straight out of HEAD reserves. Also, NSF has a limit of 30K for these grants. Joel B. points out the need to streamline the childcare program; but selection of applications is easy. Selecting travel applicants is much harder (for instance, the money should not support travel for members of strong, well-funded research groups- requires some research into group membership etc.). The travel program was oversubscribed by factor 2 in $, by factor 1.5 in applicants. The childcare fund supported 8 people (for a total of 4K; corrected later in meeting by Ann H.: total childcare funding was 2.5K).

John V. points out need for longer breaks in order to change crowds between sessions. Also, there has been some confusion over the Special Sessions: these were intended to take place over lunch, not with lunch following session. Organizational problems with these sessions were and are primarily the responsibility of the organizers, not HEAD (organizers themselves requested these sessions).

3. Proposals for the next meeting. John V. presents several options, proposes to narrow down to two options for detailed proposal: August-September 2011: New York City; Newport RI, a Maine location, Philadelphia, Memphis, Virginia Beach CA, Miami, Montana, Puerto Rico; Las Vegas is also mentioned (cheap). For an East Coast location, John recommends Newport. Montana is attractive as a 'central' location (Big Sky Resort- committee members like this option). For a Western location, Hawaii is always attractive.

Joel B. suggests the Caribbean; but that is risky during hurricane season. Details: Newport Marriott in early September: $159 per room per night; in October, goes up to $200 (foliage ?). Big Sky runs at $120 per night. Philadelphia Ritz Carlton $189 per night. New York, Chicago, are expensive. Vermont: remote. Maine: venues too small; e.g. Bar Harbor: no room for poster sessions; also remote. Key West: remote, hurricane hazard. Miami: hurricane hazard. PR, New Orleans: hurricane hazard. Virginia Beach: touristy. Locations in California or Hawaii: too routine.

The session is closed from now on: John, Trish, and Kevin leave/hang up. Informal vote on location for next meeting: 1. Montana; 2. Newport RI.

4. Finances. Ann reports: net worth of HEAD is about 55K, of which 8.8K from dues this year. Expenses: prizes, food for EC meetings, total: 5K. To cover this level of expenditure from reserves, assume spending 4% of reserves per year. Need reserves at the level of 100K or more. This meeting will yield 18K. Ways to increase reserves: consider associate HEAD membership: member of HEAD, but not full member of AAS (this option may be interesting for members of the APS). > decision: all EC members present agree to raise HEAD dues to $20 per year, to be decided formally by Summer.

decision: Paul Ray volunteers to take Secretary's job for 3 months (maternity leave for Secretary).

Ann proposes to split the positions of Secretary and Treasurer: easier for Ann to continue as Secretary. Corresponding change to HEAD bylaws must be submitted to AAS secretary by April 14th.

decision: all in favor of this change.

5. Changes to Bylaws: all proposed changes have been approved by member vote: On the issue of email voting: 108 aye/9 no. The ayes have it. On the issue of extending the terms of EC members from two to three years: 195 aye/12 no. The ayes have it.

6. Congressional Visits: Paul, Frits will go. Ron Remillard will be invited to go, too. Later in the meeting, Julia L. volunteers to go (good followup on previous visit) in Ron's place.

7. Prize Endowment: Steve Jordan (Ball Areospace) had approached the Secretary, interested in endowing a dissertation prize. Ball has decided to put this off for now. The proposal was for $60K prize plus travel. Scott R. objects to having one of our prizes a corporate sponsored prize ('the Ball Aerospace Best PhD Thesis in High Energy Astrophysics'). There is no offer currently, we will revisit the issue when that happens. NOTE: please maintain confidentiality wrt to this issue.

8. Strategic Planning. Chryssa would like to discuss this 1-1 with everyone on the EC.

9. Rossi Prize: selection of HESS has led to complaints. We need to get nominations for next Prize, by October 15 (prize and timeline are in bylaws, as Ann points out). We need to do a pre-solicitation by August, and repeat the solicitation for nominations by October 15.

10. Joel lists the special HEAD sessions at the AAS Summer meeting: Clusters, HE processes in star formation, Accretion and Jets. Meeting Adjourns. Minutes prepared by Frits Paerels.