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All Posts by David J. Helfand

President's Column

For a significant fraction of our membership, February is probably not their favorite month. Despite being the calendrical midget with the smallest number of days, for those on the job market it probably produces the largest amount of anxiety. Indeed, the entire job search process seems to consume a larger number of months, a larger expenditure of resources, a larger amount of time, and a larger quantity of emotional energy than it did the last time I applied for a job 36 years ago. Should we reduce this burden? And, if so, how do we go about doing that?

President's Column

As I noted in my opening remarks at the 221st meeting of the Society in Long Beach, the state of the AAS — unlike that of the nation — is strong. We ended the year with a small positive balance in the Society's account for the fourth year in a row. Our collection of journals — the highest impact journals in the world in our field — is in even stronger financial shape.

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.

President's Column

At 1:32AM Eastern time on 6 August, the Mars Science Laboratory and its charmingly named rover, Curiosity, executed a perfect landing in Gale Crater. President Obama called the highly complex landing procedure “an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of pride far into the future.” While we certainly hope Curiosity’s lifetime on Mars is a long one, we must all continue to make the case that we do not want to see this success as the only “point of pride” generated by a solar system mission in the coming decade.