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Member Deaths

The Society is saddened to learn of the deaths of the following members, former members, and affiliate members:

Bertram D. Donn
John Galt 
Robert Hobbs
Arthur Page
Stephan D. Price

Improving the Status of Women in Physics (and Astronomy) Departments

Women are now more than 1/3 of physics majors at several top universities and 28% of astronomy assistant professors were women in 20061. Long gone are the days when women were barred from faculty positions in science departments and were not permitted to observe at some astronomical observatories2. Yet women still face challenges that men do not, and this limits the success of the academic research enterprise. Some readers may challenge this premise and I invite them to learn about this topic by attending a Women in Physics or Women in Astronomy meeting.

Report on the National AAS Department Chairs Meeting

The biennial AAS Department Chairs Meeting was held in Chicago on Saturday, 3 November 2012, with about 35 chairs attending from around the nation. The meeting was sponsored by the AAS and organized by Jerry Sellwood (Rutgers) and David Kieda (Utah), with assistance from Jeri Cochran (U. Illinois at Urbana-Champaign). AAS President David Helfand and Executive Officer Kevin Marvel represented the Society.

JWST Science Instrument Payload Update

The JWST science instrument payload is designed as a highly integrated module in which many systems are shared among the science instruments in order to reduce mass, power, and volume resources. This Integrated Science Instrument Module (ISIM) system is a 1.4 metric ton element of the JWST space vehicle that consists of four science instruments, a fine guidance sensor (FGS), 7 other shared hardware systems and two shared software systems.

Candidate Statements

We are grateful for the following AAS members who have agreed to stand for election. Please support their dedication by voting. Members eligible to vote will be notified when the electronic ballot is posted on members.aas.org.

President (vote for one)
Duties of a President:

Washington News

Telling our story has become more and more important as we begin to peer over the fiscal cliff.  We must tell our story on the importance of investing in the astronomical sciences or we risk critical losses in funding.  Contact policy makers and your members of Congress to tell your story on how the astronomical sciences are important to you and to the nation. 

Bringing Sustainability into Your Institution

Sustainability is a complex issue with a large array of consequences ranging from local to global and from scientific and economic to natural and spiritual. As astronomers, we usually apply the same standards of inductive reasoning that we use in our daily work to discern cause-and-effect relationships and to make predictions of the impacts of both natural and human-generated environmental changes on this planet.

Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy

Although recent decades have seen significant progress by women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), this rate of progress is not shared by women scientists belonging to underrepresented minorities. Recognizing this problem, the National Academy of Sciences organized a conference entitled, “Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia,” which was held on 7-8 June 2012 in Washington, DC. In preparation, the Academies invited a range of scientific societies to comment on the status of women of color in their disciplines.

Journals Update: The AAS Journals Business Model is Sound

My last two columns have looked at some issues related to the Society’s publishing business model. In July, I wrote an overview of the Open Access advocacy that has been taking place all year. And in September, I reviewed (at some length!) the value proposition of the scholarly publishing process generally. In this column, I want to try and impress you with the merits of the business model we use (and have used for 100 years). I will do that by addressing the two principal arguments I hear for switching to a pure open access approach.

From the Executive Office

By the time you read this column, the Division for Planetary Sciences meeting for 2012 will be history and the results will no doubt be bouncing around the Internet. The AAS is proud to help organize the annual meeting of the DPS when it is held in the US and support our largest Division to accomplish their goals. We have expanded and improved our support for all of our Divisions in the last several years, with what I think are very positive results. Our Divisions play a central role in our Society by bringing focus to specific areas of our diverse science.

President's Column

From close-up pictures of water-sculpted pebbles on Mars, to the detection of galaxies at the boundary of the Dark Ages, discoveries in our field continue to advance our understanding of the Universe and to fascinate legions of the public who support our inquiry. Unfortunately, we do not see similar progress in the political sphere, even now that the consequences have been spelled out of allowing budget sequestration to hit every government agency in January.

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