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

March 26th, 2003 -- Mt. Tremblant, Quebec, Canada


The executive committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on March 26th, 2003 at the Mt. Tremblant, Canada, HEAD meeting, convening at 8.30pm. Present were Josh Grindlay (chair), Roger Blandford (vice-chair), Matthew Baring (secretary-treasurer), Omer Blaes, Kathy Flanagan, Alice Harding (past chair), Ilana Harrus (press officer), Ramesh Narayan, and Pat Slane. Josh Grindlay called the meeting to order.

Mt. Tremblant HEAD Meeting Review: Organizational and logistic issues surrounding the Meeting were discussed with a view to framing potential modifications for the next HEAD meeting. The Mt. Tremblant meeting was viewed as a scientific success, with over 300 participants and plenty of energy surrounding the sessions. Areas for concern focused primarily on the the poster sessions and the lengthy nature of the oral program. Constraints imposed by the limited physical space of the conference building and the afternoon scheduling of special workshops (in keeping with the venue) were viewed as a factor in these. More time for discussion was posited as a priority for the next meeting, perhaps in connection with the posters. The Committee noted that the posters, on display for the entire meeting, were not overwhelmingly attended, being remote from the auditorium for the oral program, and consequently coffee and food. The poster rooms were somewhat crammed, leading Chair Josh Grindlay to propose having two such sessions in future, with posters up for two days. Furthermore, it was suggested that there be allocated timeslots in the program for poster viewing as designated poster sessions. Both ideas were met with general approval. The issue of whether to earmark some program slots for late breaking science results was also discussed, though no consensus for action was reached.

Concerns were expressed about pre-conference logistics and communication. These centered on information concerning transport between Montreal's Dorval airport and Mt. Tremblant, the Web listing of the program, and registration issues, with the Committee observing that the conference Web site was tardy in providing accurate information for participants.

Future Joint Meetings with the APS?: The Chair Josh Grindlay and Vice-Chair Roger Blandford raised the consideration of possible future joint meetings between HEAD and the American Physical Society, or its Division of Astrophysics (DAP), as in April 2002 in Albuquerque. Roger emphasized the need to inform the DAP Chair of HEAD's plans. Josh indicated that DAP is very keen to continue such a relationship, and noted that there had been a past understanding that a joint meeting could be held every fourth HEAD meeting. There is a tentative agreement to hold the next joint meeting in Spring, 2006. The Committee remarked that HEAD members have voiced a particular objection to the parallel sessions that are the normal program format in APS meetings (and absent from HEAD meetings). The Committee affirmed the desire to avoid parallel sessions in any joint APS/HEAD meetings. The possibility of polling the HEAD membership concerning the issue of such joint meetings was discussed. There was general support for such a referendum, though no immediate course of action was identified.

Press Officer's report: Press Officer Ilana Harrus summarized briefly press activity at the Mt. Tremblant meeting. She indicated that interaction with Westover Consultants concerning pre-conference logistics and their support for the Press Room in Mt. Tremblant has been flawless. She mentioned that there were three press people present for the meeting, plus a small number of call-ins. The plans to have press releases also in French, in keeping with the site of the meeting, did not come to fruition, largely due to time constraints; Mt. Tremblant HEAD meeting press releases were in English, as per normal practice.

Ilana noted that there were a large number of entrees for the Schramm Award (which was awarded at the meeting to Ron Cowen and Robert Irion), and that the Schramm Committee had some difficulty in defining the phase space that constitutes HEAD-related science, a condition of eligibility for the Award. She suggested that the range of pertinent science needed better definition, and offered to draft a revised wording for future Schramm Award solicitations for entries, and run this by the Executive Committee for its appraisal.

Ilana also discussed progress in the effort to propose a stamp to recognize the accomplishments of Chandra. The protocol for such a lobbying effort and various action items were laid out, including the need for an extensive campaign of letters in support of the proposal. Such letters could include one from the congressman for Cambridge, MA, site of the Chandra X-Ray Center, and one from a senior scientist at the University of Chicago, the institution with which Chandrasekhar was long associated. Ilana plans to contact pertinent people at STSCI in Baltimore, since they led the campaign for the Hubble stamp series. Roger suggested that HEAD keep Mrs. Chandrasekhar informed of the stamp campaign.

The Committee thanked Ilana for all her continuing efforts as Press Officer.

Retroactive Membership: Chair, Josh Grindlay, proposed that HEAD membership should be granted automatically to all registrants at the Mt. Tremblant HEAD meeting who were AAS members but not HEAD members, noting that such a practice had precedent at previous HEAD meetings. The Committee readily endorsed Josh's proposal, and Matthew agreed to interface with Westover Consultants to ascertain the group of people so affected, and then duly inform them of their new status in relation to HEAD.

Fall 2004 HEAD Meeting: The site of the next HEAD meeting was discussed. The focus is still on New Orleans, and Josh reported that John Vallerga of Eureka Scientific (organizer/host of the first 5 HEAD meetings) had been approached to possibly organize a meeting in New Orleans in the fall of 2004. Josh, Roger and Matthew reported discussions from an informal meeting with John Vallerga during the Mt. Tremblant conference, including the issues of the scope of publicity for HEAD meetings and the level of participation from countries outside North America. The Committee decided to continue discussions with Eureka Scientific, and ask John to research hotel/venue possibilities for New Orleans in fall 2004 during the next month. Decisions on whether to engage Eureka Scientific's services will then be made pending the proposal they subsequently offer. A range of dates from September to November 2004 was discussed, with potential clashes such as the October Conference at the University of Maryland (Columbus Day weekend) and the Texas Symposium at Standford University (mid-December) being identified. Consideration of other cities as sites for the fall 2004 meeting was tabled pending an update on the situation conerning New Orleans.

The meeting was adjourned.

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

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