Minutes from DGRAV Business Meeting, April APS 2016

Laura Cadonati opened the meeting at 5:30 pm.

  • Division Status
    Laura announced that this will be the last GGR Business Meeting, since the APS has now approved our division status. Our new name will be Division of Gravitational Physics, or DGRAV for short. Two things must happen before we become a Division: we have to elect a Councilor, who will represent us on the APS Council, and the new DGRAV bylaws have to be approved by the membership.
  • New Fellows, Prizes and Awards
    Peter Shawhan introduced GGR’s new APS fellows: Emanuele Berti, Laura Cadonati, Yanbei Chen, Dennis Coyne, Daniel Sigg, Mark Trodden, Alan Weinstein and Bernard Whiting. Other GGR members who became fellows, but were nominated by other units, are Douglas Finkbeiner, Shane Larson, Pierre Michel, Dwight Neuenschwander, Scott Ransom, Stephan Schlamminger and Rodger Thompson. Several GGR members also won prestigious APS prizes and awards: Gregory Adkins (Prize for a Faculty Member for Research in an Undergraduate Institution), Raymond Beausoleil (Distinguished Lecturership Award on the Applications of Physics), Henriette Elvang (Maria Goeppert Mayer Award), Vicky Kalogera (Hans Bethe Prize), Pablo Laguna (Bouchet Award) and David Tanner (Frank Isakson Prize). Congratulations to all!
  • Happy birthday to Beverly!
    Stan Whitcomb congratulated Beverly Berger on her birthday, and thanked her for her many efforts on behalf of the gravitational physics community. Stan recounted how Beverly had recruited his help in establishing GGR as a Topical Group, reflected on GGR’s growth and its success in becoming a Division, and offered his help in the transition.
  • Elections
    Thomas Baumgarte reported on the GGR elections and congratulated the winners, Emanuele Berti (Chair-elect), Kelly Holley-Bockelmann and Leo Stein (members-at-large), and Megan Jones (student representative). He thanked all candidates in the elections, and expressed hope that they will consider running again in future elections. 294 members (18% of GGR) voted in the elections, down from 360 (24%) last year.
  • Finances
    Thomas reported on the GGR finances. As of 12/31/15, the GGR balance was negative $1,501, down from $17,229 a year earlier. The large drop in the balance is mostly caused by the large expenses for the APS meeting last year, when we celebrated the general relativity centennial (in particular the exhibits and the banquet). Another unusual expense of the last couple of years has been our membership drive, during which we paid the $8 fee for new members for the first year. The benefit of the larger membership is that we will now receive more income from APS dues, which, together with the APS Meeting share, represent our largest yearly incomes. The largest yearly expenses are the student travel grants. This year we will fund 26 travel grants. Unfortunately, we are again unable to fund all grants at the $300 level; instead we will award $300 only to first-time applicants who present a talk. Second-time applicants receive only $100, and we are unable to support third-time applicants. Our current way of funding the student travel grants is not sustainable – we therefore hope to endow the DGRAV Student Travel Grant Fund (see below).
  • Einstein Prize
    The Einstein Prize was awarded last year to Jacob Bekenstein. As of 12/31/15, the balance for the prize was $145,708, down from $149,939 on 12/31/14. The drop in the balance is the result of having awarded the prize ($10,000 plus associated costs), but we also earned $7,906 in interest and received a $150 contribution.
  • Best Student Talk Awards
    Winners this year were:

    • Beatrice Bonga (Penn State, Eastern Gravity Meeting)
    • Hsin-Yu Chen (University of Chicago, Midwest Relativity Meeting)
    • Matt Giesler (Caltech, Pacific Coast Relativity Meeting)
  • DGRAV Student Travel Grant Fund
    Beverly reported on efforts to endow a Student Travel Grant Fund. The initial goal is to raise $75,000, so that the yearly interest of $3,000 can pay for 10 student travel grants. A fund raising committee, consisting of Beverly (chair), Deirdre, Thomas and Peter is coordinating these efforts with Tora Buttaro at the APS. To initiate the campaign, letters to current and former members of the GGR Executive Committee will go out soon. The committee will also seek corporate sponsorship.
  • Report from NSF
    Pedro reported on some updates from the NSF. The overall NSF budget for the gravitational physics program this year is flat from last year. Since NSF budgets are requested 18 months ahead of time, any positive effects of the detection of gravitational waves will not result in budget increases until FY 18. However, the budget requested for FY 17 reflects an approximately 6% increase over this year. Pedro reminded everybody present that proposals should be submitted as Investigator-Initiated Research Projects, which have a fixed deadline rather than a target date. (For gravity, this deadline is usually the last Wednesday in October, which is Oct. 26 this year.) Pedro encouraged everybody to submit proposals early, so that he can alert proposers about mistakes or missing information before the deadline, rather than having to return the proposal without review. He also discussed the mentor program, as well as “Measuring big G” ideas lab. His presentation can be found here.
  • Stopping Harassment
    Peter reminded everybody of the damaging effects that harassment has on the entire community.
    He summarized his appeal as follows:

    • Harassment affects you.
    • Be a proactive community.

    It was suggested that we follow the example of the “Astronomy Allies” program; Deirdre volunteered to propose this to the APS.

The meeting adjourned at about 6:30 pm.