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

January 10th, 2005 -- San Diego, CA


The executive committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on January 10th, 2005 at the San Diego, CA, AAS meeting, convening at 8.30pm. Present were Roger Blandford (chair), Matthew Baring (secretary-treasurer), Joel Bregman, Deepto Chakrabarty, Josh Grindlay (ex-chair), Fiona Harrison, Pat Slane, Kim Weaver, and by invitation, Bob Milkey (AAS Executive Officer). Roger Blandford called the meeting to order.

HEAD Election: Secretary-Treasurer Matthew Baring communicated the results of the HEAD election, namely that the newly-elected Secretary-Treasurer was Christine Jones, and that the three newly-elected members of the Executive Committee are Bryan Gaensler, Rita Sambruna and Tod Strohmayer. 238 HEAD members voted including 6 paper ballots. Thanks go to the nominating committee (Gordon Garmire [chair], Matthew Baring and Mitch Begelman) for putting forth an outstanding slate of candidates. Thanks are also due to the other candidates for standing for election and being willing to serve.

Roger and the Committee thanked outgoing Secretary-Treasurer, Matthew Baring, and Committee members Joel Bregman, Kathy Flanagan and Pat Slane for their service during their terms.

Rossi Prize for 2005: After discussion of the many nominations at the end of the meeting, and a vote, it was decided that the 2005 Bruno Rossi prize is being awarded to Stan Woosley for his contributions to the theory of nucleosynthesis, supernova mechanisms and, in particular, the collapsar model of long gamma-ray bursts.

Treasury report: Matthew Baring delivered the Secretary-Treasurer's report. He summarized the membership statistics, noting that HEAD now has approximately 954 members, a 7.5% increase over the course of the year from around 890. He also reported that HEAD assets have increased to approximately $29,500, with estimated income for 2004 being around $12,350 ($8,080 in dues, $500 in interest, $3,780 surplus from the New Orleans HEAD Meeting), and the expenses for 2004 were approximately $4,770 ($3,000 awards, $1,150 EC meeting expenses, $620 copying/mailing/telecons/etc.). Net income for 2004 was approximately $7,600.

The accounting from the Mt. Tremblant meeting has still not been finally resolved, pending an expected tax refund from the Canadian Government for taxes amounting to around $15,000 paid by Westover Consultants as part of the meeting accounting. This is the only outstanding item that precludes closure to the accounting; Westover Consultants reimbursed the American Astronomical Society in October 2004 for $10,160 in abstract publication charges. The status quo is presently an approximately break-even financial situation for Mt. Tremblant; the anticipated tax reimbursement would yield a surplus.

Accounts for the September 2004 HEAD meeting in New Orleans were closed in early October, with Eureka Scientific being prompt in returning a $3,780 surplus to HEAD. Matthew indicated that only one student requested a registration fee waiver to attend the meeting, and suggested that the Committee might increase efforts to publicize such an opportunity, as part of HEAD's goal of increasing student participation in future HEAD meetings.

High Energy Astrophysics Advocacy: Chair, Roger Blandford opened a lengthy discussion on advocacy of High Energy Astrophysics (HEA) in the current fiscal and political climate. There was a general consensus that HEAD and the high energy astrophysics community overall need to be more proactive in promoting their common interests. The conversation ranged from forums involving the general public, to ensuring that HEA issues are prominently advocated before NASA at various senior levels. It was emphasized that the HEA community should have a goal of promoting balance between high energy astrophysics and other branches of astronomy in future planning. The Committee viewed it very important to articulate the case for the HEA field being in integral part of NASA's objectives. It was also noted that individual future missions need to identify their audiences, within the astronomical community, and beyond, to program specialists at NASA headquarters and the broader public. Such perspective-taking can build on past advocacies that have underpinned successful missions like CGRO, Chandra and HST.

Roger reiterated that the Congressional visit by a small group of HEAD members on October 13 was a productive enterprise, and the Committee unanimously indicated a desire to conduct another such visit soon, probably in the April/May timeframe.

Schramm Award: On behalf of Press Officer Ilana Harrus, Matthew raised the issue of the timing of the next Schramm award. Normally spaced 18 months apart, in conjunction with HEAD meetings, Ilana requested discussion of whether it should be awarded in the Spring of 2006, or at the next HEAD meeting in the Fall of 2006. The Committee decided unanimously on a Fall 2006 timeframe for the Fifth Schramm award, to follow tradition by presenting it at the HEAD meeting.

Press Officer's report: No formal report was presented due to Ilana's absence. Matthew indicated that he would offer a brief proxy report at the HEAD Business meeting on Wednesday January 12th in San Diego.

Next HEAD Meeting: The HEAD Executive Committee has asked Eureka Scientific to scout hotel possibilities in the Bay Area of California, in preparation for the Fall 2006 HEAD meeting. Matthew apprised the Committee of the ongoing efforts by Eureka Scientific, as conveyed by John Vallerga, who is currently looking at several hotels in downtown San Francisco and also Monterrey. Eureka Scientific is currently awaiting price quotes from these hotels for an October/early November timeframe. The Committee expressed an interest in the San Francisco possibilities, but is concerned about high prices; it asked Matthew to communicate this concern and indicate the desirable price range to John Vallerga, to aid his negotiations with hotels. It is anticipated that a final decision on the venue of the meeting will be made in the next two or three months.

The meeting was adjourned.

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

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