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

January 7th, 2003 -- Seattle, WA


The executive committee meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division was held on January 7th, 2003 at the Seattle, WA, AAS meeting, convening at 7.00pm. Present were Josh Grindlay (chair), Roger Blandford (vice-chair), Matthew Baring (secretary-treasurer), Omer Blaes, Nancy Brickhouse, Alice Harding (past chair), Ilana Harrus (press officer), Greg Madejski, Ramesh Narayan, and committee members-elect (non-voting) Joel Bregman and Pat Slane. Josh Grindlay called the meeting to order.

HEAD Election: Secretary/Treasurer Matthew Baring communicated the results of the HEAD election, namely that the three newly elected members of the Executive Committee are Joel Bregman, Kathy Flanagan and Pat Slane. 258 HEAD members voted including 11 paper ballots. Chair Josh Grindlay thanked the nominating committee (Nancy Brickhouse, David Buote and Don Lamb) for putting forth an outstanding slate of candidates. He also thanked the other candidates for standing for election and being willing to serve.

Rossi Prize for 2003: After lengthy discussion and a vote, it was decided that the 2003 Bruno Rossi prize is being awarded to Robert Duncan and Christopher Thompson for their prediction, and to Chryssa Kouveliotou for her observational confirmation, of the existence of magnetars: neutron stars with extraordinarily strong magnetic fields.

Press Officer's report: Press Officer Ilana Harrus summarized briefly how prominent high energy astrophysics has been in the press over the last year, providing a pointer to the November 2002 Newsletter on the HEAD website as a source for "HEAD in the news" articles. She outlined her plans for the Press Office at the upcoming Mt. Tremblant HEAD meeting in March. Noting that press presence is typically much lower at HEAD meetings than at AAS January meetings, Ilana indicated a strong desire to increase such presence at Mt. Tremblant, and proposed that press releases at Mt. Tremblant be bilingual in keeping with the venue: in French and in English. This suggestion was welcomed by the Committee.

Ilana also proposed that HEAD should try to generate interest in having a stamp to recognize the accomplishments of Chandra, much in the vein of the Hubble stamp series. This was strongly supported by the Committee, and Greg Madejski offered to provide a postal service contact for Ilana to initiate this lobbying effort.

Schramm Award: Press Officer Ilana Harrus proposed that the Schramm Award be expanded from its present domain of science journalism in print to other media such as documentaries in television, film, video and radio. Tentative approval was offered by the Committee, though a formal decision was deferred until the Mt. Tremblant HEAD meeting. The composition of the award committee for the 2003 award was discussed. In addition to the current second-year members of the Executive Committee and recent past Schramm winners, Ilana suggested adding a Journalism faculty member from the University of Maryland, if possible. The Committee approved this suggestion.

Treasury report: Matthew Baring delivered the secretary-treasurer's report. He summarized the membership statistics, noting that HEAD now has approximately 870 members, a slow increase over the course of the year from around 800. He also reported that HEAD assets have dropped to approximately $24,000, with estimated income for 2002 being around $5,700 ($4,700 in dues, $1,000 in interest), and the expenses for 2002 were approximately $8,250 ($3,000 awards, $1,000 travel by award winners, $3,000 HEAD meeting expenses, $900 EC meeting expenses, $350 copying/mailing/etc.). Hence the net expenditure for 2002 was approximately $2,500, subject to final AAS audit.

Matthew proposed that the HEAD dues for members be increased to accommodate present and anticipated operating expenses. The Committee discussed this issue and voted to raise the dues to $10 per year, starting in 2004. This increase is designed to cover increases in the Rossi and Schramm Prize awards, general HEAD expenses, and to promote greater graduate student presence at HEAD meetings.

HEAD Dissertation Prize/Graduate student support: The issue of a HEAD Dissertation Prize was discussed extensively, having been raised a year ago. Various possibilities were mentioned, focusing largely on foreign or domestic travel subsidies, and whether or not to tie the support specifically to students defending their theses in the year of the award. While there was a consensus that any awards or grants administered by HEAD should be used to promote greater graduate student presence at HEAD meetings, no clear agenda for connecting it (or otherwise) to theses was established. The Chair, Josh Grindlay indicated that he would open this issue up to the membership for their consideration at the HEAD Business meeting on Wednesday 8th January, and that the Committee should revisit the discussion at the Mt. Tremblant meeting after community input has been collected and assessed.

Mt. Tremblant HEAD Meeting: Various organizational issues were discussed, including the impending abstract deadline, concerns over the ease of use of the conference website, and communication issues with the local organizing committee. Press Officer Ilana Harrus reiterated her plans for bilingual press releases and indicated that she will contact Gale Quilter of Westover Consultants with specifics of her needs for the onsite Press Office.

Venue for the 2004 HEAD meeting: Chair Josh Grindlay opened the discussion of possible venues for the HEAD Meeting in the Fall of 2004. A consensus quickly developed to focus on one of the sites voted for by the membership in a poll at the Honolulu meeting, specifically New Orleans. The Committee felt New Orleans would be a good venue for the next HEAD gathering, and deferred consideration of sites such as Vancouver and Puerto Rico that also featured in the Honolulu poll. Josh indicated that he would ask John Vallerga of Eureka Scientific to explore conference venue options in New Orleans for Fall 2004, perhaps for a date earlier than November, given that Eureka Scientific has been enlisted to help Stanford University host the Texas Symposium in December 2004.

The meeting was adjourned.

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

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