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IAU Symposia & Focus Meetings at the 2015 GA in Hawaii

Friday, October 18, 2013 - 06:05

The U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union (IAU) wishes to call the attention of U.S. IAU members to the important opportunity to propose for Symposia and Focus Meetings (replacing the Joint Discussions & Special Sessions of previous GA's) at the August 2015 General Assembly in Honolulu. Advisory Letters of Intent (LoI's) from groups intending to submit proposals for the GA were submitted to the IAU in September, and these can viewed at

The LoI’s were advisory and are not required for the submission of a proposal for either the Symposia or the Focus Meetings, the deadline of which is 15 December 2013, only a short time away (see The LoI’s indicate a wide range of topics for proposals that will be considered by the division presidents, who provide evaluations of the proposals to the Executive Committee, who in turn decide those proposals to be accepted for Symposia and Focus Meetings at its May 2014 meeting in Canberra.

The Symposia and Focus Meetings are excellent opportunities for the presentation of new science in every area of astrophysics and for the interaction of aficionados of every discipline. In addition to taking place in a superb venue, the GA affords the opportunity of organizing a meeting under the umbrella of the IAU GA so that you can focus on the science without having to manage many of the usual logistics required in organizing a meeting.

We encourage U.S. IAU members to give thought to proposing for Symposia and Focus Meetings on topics that you believe are of importance in astronomy and that would generate interest at the GA. You can see from the proposal website ( that the process is not onerous. Appropriate information for proposals can be found at, and it would be advisable to inform the appropriate IAU division(s) officer(s) of your intentions and seek their support. It would also be advisable to inform the IAU General Secretary via a late Letter of Intent so that your intentions can be made known on the IAU website. The primary effort then consists of defining the topics and suggested speakers. A scientific organizing committee (SOC) is required, and it is important to form a diverse group in terms of geography, gender, and seniority. In recent years the overall approval fraction for GA meeting proposals has on occasion exceeded 50%, so your effort in proposing to organize a GA meeting has a realistic chance of success.

NOTE: For those of you who may be interested in proposing for a 2015 non-GA venue symposium we can tell you that no Letters of Intent have been submitted for non-GA symposia, of which three would normally be approved. Credible proposals submitted for non-GA symposia in 2015 therefore stand a rather good chance of approval by the EC.

The undersigned have some experience with this process and we are happy to advise any interested members to facilitate submission of meeting proposals. We especially want to encourage interested groups in proposing for GA meetings of scientific interest.

Lynne Hillenbrand, USNC Chair
Martha Haynes
Robert Williams

Lynne Hillenbrand
California Institute of Technology
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