Minutes from DGRAV Business Meeting, 2017 April APS conference

April American Physical Society Meeting in Washington, D.C. January 30, 2017

Call to order — The meeting began at 5:45PM local time.

New officers — Peter Shawhan welcomed our division’s new officers, and thanked those whose terms were completed. New officers include the following:

  • Representative to APS: Beverly Berger
  • Vice Chair: Gary Horowitz
  • Secretary/Treasurer: Geoffrey Lovelace
  • Members-at-Large: Lisa Barsotti and Ted Jacobson
  • Student Member-at-Large: Cody Messick

Membership — Peter noted that DGRAV has completed its first year as a division, with our membership not only remaining above 3% of the total APS membership, but continuing to grow, with 1694 current members as of January 11, 2017.

Program — Peter concluded his remarks by noting that DGRAV organized 29 sessions at the 2017 April APS meeting, and he thanked Daniel Holz for his service as program chair.

Fellowships — Emanuele Berti welcomed new APS Fellows from our division. He reported that we had 16 nominations this year, all of which were excellent. Our new fellows include the following:

  • Thomas Baumgarte
  • Jiří Bičák
  • Valery V. Frolov
  • Michael Landry
  • Eva Silverstein
  • Ulrich Sperhake
  • Robin T. Stebbins
  • Michele Vallisneri

Our division’s fellows and their citations are available on the APS web site.

Budget — Thomas Baumgarte presented a report on DGRAV’s budget. We ended the year 2016 with a $4,418 balance, up from a $1,501 deficit at the end of 2015. Thomas summarized our income, including an anonymous donation. Thomas reported that we achieved a surplus of $5,919 after three years of deficits, and that this is in part because of our investment in the membership drive. During the drive, we paid the first year for new members to encourage them to join; as a result of our membership increase, these new members are now paying dues.

Thomas reported that APS attendance continued to increase this year, and that because of increasing interest, our program to award $300 travel grants to student attendees is not sustainable.

Prizes — Thomas concluded his report by congratulating this year’s prize winners:

  • Bob Wald won the 2017 Einstein Prize.
  • Matt Giesler (Caltech) won the prize for best student talk at the 32nd Pacific Coast Gravity Meeting.
  • Jim Martens (CWRU) won the prize for best student talk at the 19th Eastern Gravity Meeting.
  • Zoteyr Doctor (University of Chicago) won the prize for best student talk at the 26th Midwestern Relativity Meeting.

Travel Grants — Beverly Berger introduced a fundraising drive to make our student travel grants more sustainable. She began with a history of the travel grants: started in 1999, the typical award is $300 (vs. $600 in DAP). Beverly noted that both the number of applicants and the travel cost have been increasing, and that currently, we award first-time student recipients $300 if presenting a talk ($200 if presenting a poster) and second-time attendees $100.

The goal of the new program is a $75,000 endowment, which will yield $3,000/year thanks to a guaranteed 4% return from APS. This will let us increase the size and number of student travel grants. Donor names will be listed on the campaign site and in Matters of Gravity. So far, 16 listed donors have contributed $26,900. Beverly concluded her remarks by asking members to contribute, saying, “Help a student come to this meeting and listen to your talk.”

For more about the travel grant drive or to donate, see the campaign site here.

Shane Larson asked if we had sought corporate donors? Peter responded by saying that we didn’t know of any promising donors.

Bernard Kelly asked if the gift was tax deductible. Beverly answered “Yes” and referred to form 503c.

NSF update — Pedro Marronetti presented an update on the funding situation at the NSF. His slides are available on the DGRAV website.

Concluding remarks and other business — Peter thanked everyone present for attending. Jess McIver announced Cosmic Community, an independent fundraising drive (not sponsored by DGRAV) to fund gifts to the American Civil Liberties Union.

Adjourn — The meeting adjourned at 6:30PM local time.