Search form

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer & Director of Communications
American Astronomical Society

Like most scientific societies, to encourage media coverage of its meetings the AAS offers complimentary press registration (a "press badge") to journalists, freelance science writers, and public-information officers (PIOs) who meet certain qualifications. Press registrants have access to all the same sessions as paid registrants, which means they can attend plenary lectures, short oral talks, poster sessions, Town Halls, and so on, and they can interview any researchers willing to talk with them.

Because there are many hundreds of presentations, many happening in parallel, I try to make reporters' jobs easier by gathering some of the most interesting and newsworthy results into topically themed press conferences, usually two each day, at which scientists give versions of their presentations specifically designed to be accessible to the public and at which reporters have ample opportunity to ask questions. Since it's not always possible for reporters who want to cover the meeting to attend in person, we webcast our news briefings to offsite journalists and make it possible for them to ask questions of the presenters too.

Decisions, Decisions

We're often asked, by AAS members as well as journalists, how we decide which papers to feature in our news briefings. It's a simple question with a complex answer.

We used to ask authors to indicate, when submitting an abstract, whether their paper might be of interest to the media. It didn't take long for us to figure out that scientists aren't particularly good judges of what makes a scientific result newsworthy. Many of the papers that authors claim are newsworthy actually are not, and many of the papers that authors claim are not newsworthy actually are.

If we can't rely on scientists to identify newsworthy results, what do we do instead? Once the regular abstract deadline for the upcoming AAS meeting passes, I identify potential press-conference participants in two ways:

  1. I ask the PIOs on the AAS press list to search through the abstracts from authors at their institutions and look for possible newsworthy items. When they spot something interesting they talk with the researcher to get more information, and if they decide they really do have something newsworthy on their hands, they let me know whether they'll be issuing a press release and whether their researcher is willing to participate in a news briefing.
  2. I browse through all the abstracts myself to look for possible newsworthy items. When I find something that looks promising, I contact the author and his or her institutional PIO, encourage them to talk with each other about the paper, and ask them to let me know if they have a newsworthy result that they'd like to promote via a press release and/or the author's participation in a news briefing.

In situation number 2, when I contact an author and his or her PIO, I get a variety of responses, usually some variant of one of these:

  • Yes, we have a newsworthy result, and the author would be delighted to join a press conference.
  • Yes, we have a newsworthy result, but we're already planning to issue a press release before the AAS meeting, so it'll be old news by the time the meeting begins.
  • Yes, we have a newsworthy result, but it's in press and under embargo at Nature or Science (or we plan to submit it to Nature or Science), so we can't go out of our way to promote it to the news media until it's published.
  • Yes, we have a newsworthy result, but we published it six months ago, and it got some press attention back then (or nobody noticed it), so it's old news and not appropriate to publicize now.
  • Yes, we have a newsworthy result, but our institution's and/or funding agency's policy prohibits us from participating in a press conference or issuing a press release before we have a paper accepted for publication, and we don't yet.
  • We think we're on to something, but our results are preliminary, so we're not ready to tout them at a briefing at this meeting — please check with us again before the next one.
  • We got clouded out at the telescope, so the results we were hoping to present at the meeting aren't actually in hand yet. In fact, we're considering withdrawing the paper from the meeting.
  • No, our results aren't newsworthy. In fact, they're totally unexciting and probably erroneous. (Just kidding: Nobody ever says that!)

As you can see, there are more ways to say "no" to participating in a press conference than there are to say "yes," even when an author has something truly exciting to present. Accordingly I always invite more potential participants than I can accommodate. When I do get a "yes," I encourage the presenter's PIO to issue a press release to further help make journalists' job easier, i.e., to provide additional text, quotes, background, images, video, etc. to go with the story. The AAS itself does not issue press releases about individual results presented at our meetings — we provide the venue and make it easy for journalists to attend, but the glory appropriately belongs to the scientists and their institutions.

What Happens at an AAS Press Conference?

The purpose of a press conference is to get journalists interested in writing a story — it isn't to tell them the whole story. We typically have three or four presenters, and occasionally we add an independent commentator to provide context, perspective, and quotable quotes.

An AAS briefing lasts no more than 1 hour. Each participant speaks for 6 or 7 minutes, such that all the presentations combined take only about 30 minutes, leaving another 30 minutes for Q&A.

All presenters sit at a table (sometimes on a raised platform) at the front of the room; in front of each seat we hang a placard giving that speaker's name and affiliation so that journalists don't get confused about who's who.

I or one of my deputies (Larry Marschall or Inge Heyer) open the briefing, perhaps make a few announcements relevant to the press corps, and introduce the topic and the speakers. Each speaker then gives his or her presentation, one after the other. After the last presentation the floor is opened for questions from the audience, including any reporters who are participating via the webcast.

Come One, Come All!

The best way to see what an AAS press conference is like is to attend one. You don't have to be a reporter — news briefings at AAS meetings are open to all attendees. The schedule is always posted in the AAS press room and on an easel outside the briefing room. At the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC, 5-9 January 2014, you'll find the press facilities in the Chesapeake rooms at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. See you there! 

Joshua H. Shiode
John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow
American Astronomical Society

Summary

This Action Alert requests that AAS members email or call their representatives in Congress to end the budget sequester and support strong investments in basic research.

Instructions on whom to contact and how to do so are provided along with sample communications.

Background

A budget conference committee between the House of Representatives and Senate is currently in session discussing a potential budget deal. We have recently heard from the House Majority Leader’s staff that now is the time to raise our voices to support ending the sequester and reinvesting in crucial discretionary programs like those in basic research. The across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration have already slashed more than $0.5 billion from the research budgets of NASA, NSF, and the Department of Energy Office of Science; more cuts are planned for 2014 and beyond.

Any budget compromise from the committee will set broad spending levels, primarily determining the distribution between discretionary and mandatory spending (i.e., Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.). Despite this high-level focus, the outcome of this process will drive the magnitude of basic research investments. Why? Empirically, federal investment in research & development (R&D) has been an approximately fixed fraction of the discretionary budget since the Apollo era. However, there has been a decades-long, steady decline in discretionary spending as a fraction of the total federal budget and the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

If Congress and the President do not replace the sequester with revenue increases and/or cuts on the mandatory side of the budget, we are locked in for more of the same downward trend in discretionary spending, and R&D along with it, for years and years to come. Right now, the clearest message we can send (alongside many partners) is that investments in discretionary programs like basic research, far from being drivers of our debt, are crucial for producing the long-term economic growth that will help us address our debt. Further, these investments are critical for maintaining our global competitiveness in an increasingly advanced global marketplace. As other countries around the world scale up their investment in R&D, we must ensure that we do not fall behind. 

In the next week, we urge you to contact your members of Congress. The conference committee is scheduled to report back by December 13th, at which point the appropriations committees will make the finer-grained decisions that will directly set spending levels for the astronomical sciences.

What To Do

Below is a template email for you to customize and send to your representatives using their contact forms; you can find your representatives’ contact information with our Contacting Congress webform

  1. Get your Zip+4 if you don’t have it (for email contact forms).
  2. Find your representatives' contact information.
  3. Check if any of your representatives are on the budget conference committee, then edit email or call scripts accordingly.
  4. Either…
    1. customize the sample email below and submit via the contact forms linked from your Contacting Congress results, or
    2. customize the relevant sample phone script below and call each of your representatives using the phone numbers listed in your Contacting Congress results.

It is crucial that you customize your message. According to the Congress Foundation’s 2011 study on how Congress members respond to communications, individualized messages and phone calls are about an order of magnitude more influential than form emails (see their fig. 2). 

You may also wish to tweet to your representatives. Generally, members will have links on their websites if they are active on Twitter. When you tweet, we recommend you use the hashtags #NoMoreCuts and/or #InvestInWhatWorks to tie into existing campaigns by local coalitions and membership organizations with similar goals.

Our communications focus is on discretionary spending for basic research as a whole, as the current congressional action is focused on top-line budget numbers. Any budget deal will specify funding in broad categories known as “budget functions.” The budget function that ultimately flows down to funding for almost all of the astronomical sciences is budget function 250. We are in this together with every other discipline and in fact with all discretionary spending. Now is not the time to be advocating for just our discipline.

Thank you for your time.


Budget Conference Committee Members (Conferees)

The budget conference committee convened as part of the deal to end the government shutdown in mid-October. They are tasked with reconciling the disparate budget resolutions passed by the House and Senate Budget Committees led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R, WI-1) and Sen. Patty Murray (D, WA), respectively. The budgets are $90 billion apart on discretionary spending, with the Democrat-led Senate setting higher spending levels than the Republican-led House.

House Republicans (Majority): 
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1), Chair of House Budget Committee
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-4)
Rep. Tom Price (GA-6)
Rep. Diane Black (TN-6)

House Democrats (Minority):
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD-8), Ranking Member of House Budget Committee
Rep. James Clyburn (SC-6)
Rep. Nita Lowey (NY-17)

Senate Republicans (Minority):
Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL), Ranking Member of Senate Budget Committee
Sen. Charles Grassley (IA)
Sen. Mike Enzi (WY)
Sen. Mike Crapo (ID)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)
Sen. Rob Portman (OH)
Sen. Pat Toomey (PA)
Sen. Ron Johnson (WI)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH)
Sen. Roger Wicker (MS)

From Senate Democratic Caucus (Majority): 
Sen. Patty Murray (WA), Chair of Senate Budget Committee
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
Sen. Bill Nelson (FL)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Sen. Mark Warner (VA)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
Sen. Chris Coons (DE)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Sen. Tim Kaine (VA)
Sen. Angus King (ME)


Draft AAS Member Email to Representative

[EDIT BEFORE SENDING]

Dear Senator/Representative X,

My name is [YOUR NAME], and I am an [astronomer / astrophysicist / planetary scientist / heliophysicist] from [City, State] and a constituent of [Sen/Rep. Congressperson]. I work at [Institution] in [City, State]. 

As the budget conference committee works toward a compromise by December 13th, I am writing to ask that you [and your fellow budget conferees/ urge your colleagues on the conference committee to] find a balanced substitute for the sequester that reinvests in the discretionary spending programs which have been disproportionally cut over the past several years. Important discretionary investments in basic research (Budget Function 250) underpin our future economic success and global competitiveness.

Investments in basic research lead to exciting new discoveries, [like the recent revelation that there are likely billions of other habitable worlds in our galaxy.] They also spur innovations whose effects are felt throughout society and for decades into the future. I [urge you and your fellow budget conferees/ ask that you urge your colleagues on the conference committee] to protect these investments as you make crucial decisions about how to slow the growth of our national debt.

[Personalized/local story about the positive impact of federal investment in research. E.g., As a research astronomer, I have federal funding through the National Science Foundation. In addition to enabling my research on the constant stream of particles from the Sun we call the solar wind, this grant provides resources for me to visit some of the local schools in our district to get kids excited about science.

If possible, please also briefly explain what have been or will be the impacts of continued cuts to your research and by extension our global technological competiveness?]

If you have any questions about the role of basic research or if I can be of any further help to you in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me. I am happy to help you in whatever way I can.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Dr. Jane Q. Astronomer


Sample Phone Call to Budget Conferee

STAFFER: Hello, Senator Murray's office, can I help you?

AAS MEMBER: Yes, I would like to speak with a staffer responsible for science and technology issues.

STAFFER: OK, I will see if she is in right now. <pause> She can speak with you now [note; you may get voice mail, leave same message as the next bit of conversation]

SCI. STAFFER: Hello, I'm [staff name] and I'm responsible for science issues... How can I help you?

AAS MEMBER: Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME] and I am an [astronomer / astrophysicist / planetary scientist / heliophysicist] and a constituent of Senator Murray’s. I am calling to ask that the Senator support a balanced substitute for the sequester that reinvests in the discretionary spending programs which have been disproportionally cut over the past several years. Important discretionary investments in basic research underpin our future economic success and global competitiveness.

Investments in basic research lead to exciting new discoveries, [like the recent revelation that there are likely billions of other habitable worlds in our galaxy.] They also spur innovations whose effects are felt throughout society and for decades into the future.

I would like to urge the Senator to protect these investments as she and her colleagues on the budget conference committee work toward a compromise solution.

SCI. STAFFER: Thank you for your message, I'll let the Senator know your point of view.

AAS MEMBER: Thanks so much. If I can ever be of help to Senator Murray, please let me know. I am happy to help however I can.


Sample Phone Call to Member NOT on Conference Committee:

STAFFER: Hello, Congressman Hurt’s office, can I help you?

AAS MEMBER: Yes, I would like to speak with a staffer about science issues.

STAFFER: OK, I will see if he is in right now. <pause> He can speak with you now [note; you may get voice mail, leave same message as the next bit of conversation] 

SCI. STAFFER: Hello, I'm [staff name] and I'm responsible for science issues... How can I help you? 

AAS MEMBER: Hi, my name is [YOUR NAME], and I am an [astronomer / astrophysicist / planetary scientist / heliophysicist] and a constituent of Congressman Hurt’s. I am calling to ask that the Congressman contact his colleagues on the budget conference committee and urge them to support a balanced substitute for the sequester that reinvests in the discretionary spending programs which have been disproportionally cut over the past several years. Important discretionary investments in basic research underpin our future economic success and global competitiveness.

Investments in basic research lead to exciting new discoveries, [like the recent revelation that there are likely billions of other habitable worlds in our galaxy.] They also spur innovations whose effects are felt throughout society and for decades into the future.

I would like to ask the Congressman to contact his colleagues on the budget conference committee and urge them to protect these investments as they work toward a compromise solution.

SCI. STAFFER: Thank you for your message, I'll let the Congressman know your point of view. 

AAS MEMBER: Thanks so much. If I can ever be of help to Congressman Hurt, please let me know. I am happy to help however I can.


Sample Tweets

.@pattymurray End the #sequester and #InvestInWhatWorks. Maintain strong basic research investments for our future. #NoMoreCuts

.@RepRonBarber tell the budget conf cmte to end the #sequester and #InvestInWhatWorks by strengthening our investments in basic research.

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer & Director of Communications
American Astronomical Society

"Meeting Global Challenges: Discovery and Innovation" is the theme for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), but it also describes the achievements of the new AAAS Fellows.

For example, Jay Lockman, Green Bank Telescope principal scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, identified the Lockman Hole, an area of the sky where astronomers can conduct surveys obscured by a minimal amount of neutral hydrogen gas.

Lockman is among the 388 newly elected AAAS Fellows who were recognized by their peers for their efforts to advance science or its applications. The new AAAS Fellows, whose names will be published in the 29 November issue of Science, will be honored at the AAAS Fellows Forum on Saturday, 15 February, during the AAAS Annual Meeting in Chicago, where they will receive a certificate and a blue and gold rosette as a symbol of their distinguished accomplishments.

Among the newly elected AAAS Fellows are seven AAS members, including AAS President-Elect Meg Urry:

  • Donald N. B. Hall (Univ. of Hawaii)
  • Felix J. (Jay) Lockman (National Radio Astronomy Observatory)
  • Nancy D. Morrison (Univ. of Toledo, retired)
  • Stephen S. Murray (Johns Hopkins Univ./Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
  • William H. Press (Univ. of Texas, Austin)
  • Mark H. Thiemens (Univ. of California, San Diego)
  • C. Megan Urry (Yale Univ.)

Congratulations, all! (If you’re on the list of new AAAS Fellows for 2013 and we overlooked you, please send me an email so I can add your name here.)

AAAS members who have made scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications and who have been continuous members for the four years preceding their nomination are eligible for election as AAAS Fellows. Three current AAAS members who were previously elected AAAS Fellows may nominate new AAAS Fellows, though only one of the three sponsors may share the nominee's affiliated institution and each AAAS Fellow may sponsor no more than two nominees each year.

Fellows may also be nominated by the steering group of one of the 24 sections of AAAS or the chief executive officer. The Fellows are elected by the AAAS Council from a list of approved nominees submitted by the section steering committees.

This article is adapted from a AAAS press release, “AAAS Council Elects 388 New AAAS Fellows."

B. Scott Gaudi
Ohio State Univ.

NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group (ExoPAG) will hold its ninth meeting Saturday-Sunday, 4-5 January 2014, just prior to, and at the same venue as, the 223rd AAS meeting in Washington, DC. ExoPAG meetings are open to the entire scientific community. They offer an opportunity to participate in discussions of scientific and technical issues in exoplanet exploration and to provide input into NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program (ExEP). All interested members of the astronomical and planetary-science communities are invited to attend and participate.

The most up-to-date agenda, as well as details of the meeting logistics, can be found on the ExoPAG website. Agenda topics include a mini workshop on the potential for characterization of exoplanets with the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), reports from the active Study Analysis Groups (SAGs), a joint meeting of the ExoPAG and Cosmic Origins Program Analysis Group (COPAG), and a discussion of the community's near-term strategy for exoplanet exploration.

Questions can be sent to Scott Gaudi, ExoPAG Executive Committee Chair, and/or Douglas Hudgins, ExoPAG Executive Secretary. News and information about NASA's ExoPAG and the ExoPAG 9 meeting, including hotel information, can be found on the ExoPAG website.

Crystal M. Tinch
Communications Manager
American Astronomical Society (AAS)

This announcement is adapted from a press release issued on 2 December 2013 by the American Institute of Physics:

The American Institute of Physics (AIP) has announced that the Boston-based American Meteorological Society (AMS) has become the institute’s newest member society.

The premier scientific society for meteorology and related atmospheric, oceanographic, and hydrologic sciences, AMS has about 14,000 members worldwide, including more than 3,000 students and 1,700 international members. As an umbrella organization, AIP provides services and benefits to AMS and other member societies (including the AAS), which represent a broad spectrum of physical-science professionals.

"We welcome the AMS and look forward to strengthening ties in ways that will benefit both organizations, the scientific community as a whole, policy makers, and the general public," said H. Frederick Dylla, AIP's executive director and CEO.

"AMS members include some of the world's leading experts in the atmospheric, oceanographic, and hydrologic sciences," said AMS president J. Marshall Shepherd, who is the director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at the University of Georgia. "We look forward to strengthening our myriad activities and programs through our deeper connection with AIP and further enhancing our members’ experience without additional cost to them."

AMS has been formally associated with AIP since 1983, when it became an AIP affiliated society — one of about two dozen local, regional, or national organizations with missions complementary to AIP. Affiliated societies do not pay dues and do not receive AIP member society benefits. A list of AIP member and affiliated societies can be found on the Member Societies page.

Nikolaus H. Volgenau
California Institute of Technology

CARMA, the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy, is accepting observing proposals for its 2014a semester, which will extend from 25 February 2014 to 18 August 2014.

CARMA comprises 23 antennas operating in the Inyo Mountains of California at an elevation of 2,200 meters. All 23 antennas are equipped with receivers for the 3 mm (85-115 GHz) and 1 cm (27-36 GHz) wavelength bands. The 15 largest antennas are equipped with dual-polarization receivers for 1 mm wavelengths (215-265 GHz). CARMA typically operates either as a 23-element array or as independent subarrays of 15 antennas and 8 antennas.

Approximately 30% of the awarded time will be given to PIs outside the CARMA partner universities. Proposals may be submitted using the electronic form. For help with submitting proposals and the proposal system, please email us. Detailed information, including tools to assist you in preparing proposals, is available online.

If you require help in understanding CARMA instrument capabilities, please contact CARMA's Help Desk.

The deadline for submitting proposals is 23:00 GMT (17:00 CST) on 14 January 2014.

Scott W. Fleming
STScI

The Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) Discovery Portal is now available online. MAST is home to more than 15 missions, including Hubble, Kepler, Swift, and XMM-Newton, and many of these have had their own separate search interfaces from which to access their data. No longer! The MAST Discovery Portal allows users with a single search to locate all data MAST has on a particular target or in a particular field. Not only does this simplify searching for known data, but it also allows for discovery of data on your targets that you may not have been aware of, subsequently enabling new research capabilities. For example, a quick search on "M60" results in data from six different missions, ranging from the 1980s to the present, including both images and spectra, and all of which are available for previewing or downloading.

In addition to data at MAST, users can search for data available through the Virtual Observatory, either by providing a resolvable target name or coordinates or by using the "Search The VO" button in the More Information window for a given MAST data product. The VO gives Portal users access to data spanning the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio to high energy, including images, spectra, catalogs, and even NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) records. You can browse contents and download the data from within the Portal without having to leave to visit other sites. Basic plotting tools allow you to visualize metadata from your search results. You can also upload your own tables of targets (IDs and coordinates) for use within the Portal. Cross-matching can be done with all MAST data or any data available through the Strasbourg Astronomical Data Center (CDS).

Learn more about the MAST Discovery Portal by watching our introductory videos (short, 2-minute videos explaining the basics of how to use the Portal) or by visiting the Portal's help page. Note that the tutorial videos currently do not have voiceover. Watch for more improvements in the future, as we continue to add new functionality and data into the Portal. Among the best ways are to read the MAST Newsletter, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. If you have questions or comments, please email them to MAST.

Constance E. Walker
NOAO

The Globe at Night program is an international citizen-science campaign to raise public awareness of the impact of light pollution by inviting citizen scientists to measure their night-sky brightness and submit their observations from a computer or smart phone. Light pollution threatens not only our "right to starlight," but also can adversely affect energy consumption, wildlife, and health. Nearly 100,000 measurements have been contributed from people in 115 countries during the campaigns over the last 8 years, making Globe at Night the most successful light-pollution-awareness program to date.

For 2014 Globe at Night offers four ways to measure night-sky brightness: the traditional method of matching what you see in a constellation with star charts; the use of a handheld digital device called a Sky Quality Meter; the use of the Loss of the Night app on Android phones, which asks you to find certain stars as a measure of star visibility; or the use of the Dark Sky Meter app on iPhone 4s and iPhone 5/5s/5c, which uses the phone's camera to measure night-sky brightness.

Explore the last 8 years of data in our interactive map, or see how your city did with our map app. The Globe at Night website is easy to use, comprehensive, and holds an abundance of background information. The database is usable for comparisons with a variety of other databases, such as how light pollution affects the foraging habits of bats.

For 2014 we will be collecting observations during all 12 months of the year:

  • January 20-29
  • February 19-28
  • March 21-30
  • April 20-29
  • May 19-28
  • June 17-26
  • July 16-25
  • August 15-24
  • September 15-24
  • October 14-23
  • November 12-21
  • December 11-20

We look forward to your participation in the campaign! Visit www.globeatnight.org for more information.

Roger J. V. Brissenden
SAO

Harvey Tananbaum has announced his decision to step down as the director of the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC), the science and operations center for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

In response to the news of Harvey's plans, Dr. Paul Hertz, director of NASA's Astrophysics Division, said, "Harvey Tananbaum made the success of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, both during development and during its 14 years (and counting) of operations, his personal mission. NASA and the astronomical community owe Harvey a debt of gratitude for all of the transformative science that Chandra has enabled."

"The scientific community owes Harvey Tananbaum a deep-felt thanks for his extraordinary contributions to the Chandra mission," said Dr. Martin Weisskopf, Chandra's project scientist. "I, for one, who have been working with Harvey on Chandra for decades (I still know his telephone number), will miss his inspired, frank, and dedicated leadership of the CXC. Thankfully, he plans to continue to serve high-energy astronomy beyond this milestone."

And Randy Baggett, Chandra's program manager, commented, "Harvey's contributions to Chandra have been exemplary. His unique leadership abilities and passion for X-ray astronomy have served NASA with distinction for over four decades."

Professor Charles Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, also responded: "Harvey is a great and visionary scientist, a talented manager, and a wonderful human being. His leadership has assured that Chandra is an extraordinarily effective scientific instrument. This will be a tough act to follow!"

Prior to his 22 years as CXC director, Harvey was involved in nearly every aspect of the Chandra program. He played a leading role in getting the mission (originally known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility, AXAF) approved, and he was deeply involved at all stages in its design and implementation. In the 1990s Harvey was responsible for the establishment of the CXC at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Thanks in large part to Harvey's leadership, Chandra is one of NASA's most productive and successful scientific endeavors. After ending his role as director early in 2014, Harvey will continue to support a range of programs in high-energy astrophysics at SAO.

A search for a new CXC director is now under way. 

Richard Tresch Fienberg
Press Officer & Director of Communications
American Astronomical Society

If you’re a graduate student, postdoc, or early-career astronomer and originally hail from Scotland, television producer/director Simon Williams wants to hear from you. In collaboration with BBC Scotland and Mara Media in Glasgow, he is developing a TV program with the working title “The New Scottish Explorers.” It will feature people of Scottish descent who are involved in groundbreaking scientific research anywhere in the world and aims to inspire young Scots to consider careers in science.

Williams is looking for Scottish science grad students, postdocs, and research fellows who might be willing to be featured in the program. Your current institution, wherever it’s located, would be spotlighted too. “The New Scottish Explorers” isn’t meant to be nationalistic — only to show Scottish kids what’s possible if they choose to pursue a career in science.

If interested, please contact Simon Williams by email or by telephone at +44 (0) 79748 08079. And please share news of this opportunity with anyone you know who might be a good candidate for the program.