[ASA] ASA year-end newsletter

Andrew Hopkins andrew.hopkins at aao.gov.au
Fri Dec 19 13:15:46 AEDT 2014

Dear ASA members,

    I would like to wish you all the best for the holiday season and the 
coming year.
2014 has seen a lot of activity within our community, and it is appropriate to 
on these developments at this point in the year.

During 2014 the ASA Council has had rather more evolution in membership than 
usual. Early
in the year we welcomed Michael Brown as a new co-opted Council member with 
for Media and Outreach. We were joined later in the year by Ravi Sood as our 
new Treasurer,
and we thank the outgoing Treasurer, Katrina Sealey for her significant 
contributions to the Society
during her 5 years in this role. We were also joined by a new Vice-President, 
Virginia Kilborn,
following Darren Croton's resignation. We thank Darren for his contributions 
during his time
on the Council and as Vice-President, and welcome Virginia in her new role. 
Editor-in-Chief role transitioned as well, with Bryan Gaensler leaving for 
chillier climes,
and Daniel Price stepping in to the role. We thank Bryan and welcome Daniel, and
comment more on PASA developments below.

ASA members continue to achieve at the highest levels, with prestigious
recognition including:

- Ken Freeman, sharing the 2014 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize
- Bill Tango, awarded the 2014 Fizeau Lifetime Achievement Prize by the IAU
- Tamara Davis, awarded the 2015 Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science
- Naomi McClure Griffiths, awarded the 2015 Pawsey Medal for research in physics

This is in addition to the dozens of other National and State-based prizes and
accolades that were awarded to our members during 2014.

Our calendar was full of exciting events and interesting conferences and 

- ASA members coordinated and participated in the ANITA workshop and N-body 
Summer School,
     the ASA Women in Astronomy Workshop, the 2nd ASA ECR Mentoring Workshop, 
plus the
     ASA Harley Wood Winter School and the ASA Annual Science Meeting.
- Despite the numerous Town Hall meetings, a large number of community 
workshops and conferences
     featured this year, including "AusGO 2014 Observational Techniques", the 
"WAVES community
     workshop", "Powerful AGN and their host galaxies across cosmic time 
(Southern Cross VII)", the
     "CASS 2014 Radio Astronomy School", "Exploiting MWA surveys for AGN and 
     star formation studies", the "4th Australian Exoplanet Workshop", the 
"Bolton Symposium",
     and the "AstroSats 2014 Workshop".

All of these were highlighted on the ASA calendar. Don't forget to use this 
to advertise events you are organising:
You can send email to ASAcalendar at physics.usyd.edu.au for inclusion.

I would like to highlight the very successful 2014 ASA Annual Scientific 
Meeting and
Harley Wood Winter School hosted by Macquarie University, and thank the organisers
for their efforts in making those events a success. The 2015 ASM and HWWS will
be coordinated by ICRAR/Curtin University in Perth, and I encourage you all to 

The society's journal, PASA, has a new Editor-in-Chief, Daniel Price, who
takes over from Bryan Gaensler in 2015. Bryan's contributions over the past 6 
include a range of initiatives leading to the journal's substantially 
increased impact
factor, introduction of the Dawes Review, and the transition from CSIRO Publishing
to Cambridge University Press. We thank Bryan and the other outgoing Board member,
Benedetta Ciardi, for their efforts in continuing to ensure the success of our
society's journal, and we welcome two new members to the PASA Editorial Board,
Stephen Serjeant and Melanie Johnston-Hollitt.

The Women in Astronomy Chapter launched a new awards scheme, the Pleiades Awards,
aimed at recognising commitment to advancing women in astronomy. The Awards are
both to encourage and to recognise best practice in gender equity activities 
in our
community. The ASA is becoming recognised nationally as a leader in this area, 
the Australian Academy of Science now exploring the potential of bringing the UK's
Athena Swan scheme to the broader Australian community. Twenty organisations
employing ASA members are eligible to apply for the Pleiades Awards, and in 
the inaugural
awards round it was very pleasing to see that more than half of these have 
been successful,
with nine organisations recognised with a Bronze Pleiades Award and two with a
Silver Pleiades Award. The full listing is here:
I strongly encourage all organisations employing ASA members to apply in future
rounds, to obtain, retain, or improve their level of Award, and to implement 
and improve
on existing best practices in supporting gender equity in our community.

This year saw extensive activity toward development of the next Astronomy
Decadal Plan, for the period 2016-2025. There were numerous Town Hall meetings
from February to April. Eleven Working Groups, more than 100 members of our 
compiled and provided extensive input to the Editorial Board for the Decadal Plan.
Following presentations and feedback at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the ASA,
the Working Group reports were finalised and submitted to the Editorial Board in
August. The Editorial Board has prepared a draft Decadal Plan document, which 
will be
circulated to the community for further feedback, and presented and discussed
during a series of community presentations in February. Keep an eye out for 
by Stuart Wyithe, Chair of the Editorial Board, for more details.

2014 was a year of anniversaries, with Siding Spring Observatory turning 50 
and the
Anglo-Australian Telescope turning 40. These milestones were recognised with a 
variety of events during StarFest in October and in other well-received and 
public activities. There were sad moments as well, with the passing this year of
long standing Society members Bob Shobbrook and John Greenhill, both of whom will
be remembered fondly by those who knew them.

Of course there were many exciting research results, funding outcomes, and other
developments during the course of the year, far too many to list in a single 
I would like to add a personal thanks to the Council of the ASA for their support,
responsiveness and contributions to the numerous and diverse activities that the
ASA has taken carriage of this year. I would like to highlight the 
Secretaries, Marc
and John, in particular, for their unstinting and devoted efforts in ensuring the
success of the activities of the Society, and give them my personal thanks for 
support. The Australian astronomical community is an incredibly collegial and
supportive environment, as well as being a collection of talented and successful
individuals. I feel privileged to be a part of such a fantastic community.

I encourage everyone to enjoy a restful break, and to come back refreshed and
enthusiastic for the exciting activities that are already lining up for 2015!

Andrew Hopkins
ASA President

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