AAS Informational Email 2009-04
Sent 18 February 2009
Chair of the CSMA
The Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA) for the American Astronomical Society (AAS) will prepare position papers for the Astro2010: The Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey. Our intention is to not only address the vast under-representation of minorities in astronomy, but to provide the study groups targeted solutions and strong recommendations for ultimately improving minority participation in the field. The goal is to clearly articulate courses of action that help to meet the needs of the astronomical community for the next decade, and beyond.
Dara Norman, Keivan Stassun, and I are taking the lead in preparing these papers. Our strategy will be to address the pipeline, specifically attending to transitions where potential students are all too often lost. Two specific areas we have targeted for these papers thus far are:
- Education and Public Outreach (K-12) - The beginning of the pipeline, we offer recommendations for attracting and training science/math-strong students, and retaining them through undergraduate STEM degrees (esp. Physics and Astronomy).
- Undergraduate / Graduate Bridging - We offer recommendations for attracting an underutilized population of strong physics and engineering students to graduate programs in astronomy, including establishing partnerships with Minority Serving Institutions.
We recently presented our intentions to a focus session on the Decadal survey at the joint NSBP/NSHP annual conference in Nashville. We received a number of excellent suggestions, which we are integrating into our drafts. To broaden this input, I invite all who are interested to join the discussion on the aas_panchromatic listserve. Details on signing up are provided on
I encourage the AAS community, and the Nat. Societies of Black and Hispanic Physicists to share their comments and other feedback to assist the CSMA in preparing this very important contribution to policy in our profession.