[ASA] Happy New year from the ASA

Virginia Kilborn vkilborn at swin.edu.au
Mon Jan 23 10:22:07 AEDT 2017

Dear ASA members,

As we begin the new year, it's a great time to review some of the events and highlights of the past year. Whilst 2016 was another jam-packed year, with too many things to mention in just one email, some particular items of note include:

* The announcement of the detection of gravitational waves;

* 2 Centres of Excellence awarded to astronomy, securing over $60M in funding over the next 7 years;

* Numerous other ARC grants to support Australian astronomy research;

* The start of ASKAP early science;

* The SkyMapper early data release;

* Prof Don Melrose won the Association of the Asia-Pacific Physical Societies Division of Plasma Physics Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Prize of Plasma Physics;

* Dr Lisa Harvey-Smith won the DIIS Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Australian Scientific Research

* The impact factor for PASA rose to 3.245;

* Four vibrant ASA chapter meetings were held in 2016, supporting the diverse interests of our astronomical community;

In 2016 we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Astronomical Society of Australia, at the Annual Scientific meeting in Sydney, and the associated Harley Wood School. Highlights of the meeting included the first rainbow dinner; speed-meet-a-mentor including several industry mentors; a fantastic dinner at Doltone house, where the inaugural Peter McGregor prize for instrumentation was awarded to the SAMI team; an ASA birthday cake; and many many high-quality talks. Photos from the conference are available here: http://www.asa2016.org/conference-photograph/ . The Harley wood lecture was a thought-provoking talk presented by Dr Luke Barnes - a podcast of the talk is available here: https://soundcloud.com/sydney-ideas

In contrast to the 50th birthday celebrations, we were saddened by the death of ASA retired fellow Bruce Slee - Bruce was a very dear and valued member of the astronomy community, and his passing was a loss for all in the community who knew, or knew of him.

A number of astronomers participated in the government's review of the governance of Australian astronomy last year. I sat on the Astronomy Governance Working Group as ASA representative. The working group was tasked with evaluating two options for astronomy governance in the future: A Consolidated governing body in CSIRO, such as a subsidiary entity (company) to CSIRO and; a Consolidated governing body as a corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The working group met monthly, and provided a report to the DIIS for consideration following the last meeting May 2016.

There have been several changes to ASA Council in the past few months: Stuart Wyithe has taken over as ASA Vice-President, and thanks go to Duncan Galloway for his service in the role for the past 18 months. Kate Gunn has taken on the role of ASA Treasurer from Ravi Sood, and we'd like to thank Ravi for the enormous effort he put into that role over several years. Thanks to all Council members, especially the secretaries John and Marc, for keeping the society running and for serving the astronomical community over the past 12 months.

There are several councillors who will end their terms this year, and we'll be calling for nominations to fill these positions.

Council, in discussion with members, has nominated a number of areas of priority for the 2016/17 period, including strengthening ties with NZ professional astronomers, continuing to develop links between ASA members and ASA alumni, reviewing ASA documents and policies against diversity and inclusion principles, and having more regular discussions between ASA Chapters and Council around strategic planning.

The main activity for 2017 is the development of a new membership database and website, being led by Kate Gunn and John O'Byrne. This will allow members to log onto the website to pay for membership dues online, and update other details such as address/email information and chapter memberships. The database and website are currently under construction, and as such, the call for membership dues for 2017 will be delayed. The early-bird rate will subsequently also be pushed back. More information on this exciting development will follow shortly.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2017,

Virginia Kilborn

President, ASA

Prof. Virginia Kilborn
Chair, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing
Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology
Swinburne University of Technology
Ph (w) +61 (0)3 9214 4380
WWW: http://bit.ly/24vsqSR

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