USIC Meeting 2008-03-06


CHARA: Theo ten Brummelaar (chair).
ISI: Charles Townes.
MROI: Michelle Creech-Eakman.
MSC: Rachel Akeson and Andy Boden.
NOAO: Steve Ridgway.
NPOI: Tom Armstrong and Don Hutter.

This is a summary of the discussion. More detailed notes of what was said are available on request.


  1. Action Items from Previous Meeting
  2. Quick Debrief on the AAS meeting.
  3. Physics Today Article
  4. Discussion of Steve Ridgway's suggestions sent out early last month.
  5. Upcoming AAS and SPIE meetings.
  6. Website/WiKi
  7. Possible expansion of USIC, for example LBTI and GSFC.
  8. Other Items.


  1. Theo: Merge old PLOI WiKi pages into new USIC WiKi page and coordinate the payment of the fee with Hal : Mostly done. Updates required from other members along with suggestions. Fee yet to be paid.
  2. Rachel: Ship the brochures to the AAS meeting: Done.
  3. Theo: Contact the SPIE about a small meeting room to discuss the decadal report: Done.
  4. Steve: Send Theo the contact he used to do this at the last SPIE: In progress.
  5. Theo: Lead the effort to write an article for Physics Today with assistance from Michelle and Hal: In progress.
  6. Michelle: Ask Chris Haniff about his contacts at Physics Today: Done. No response.
  7. All: Encourage collaborators to supply small sets of slides for use in general talks by all: In progress.
  8. Hal: Ask AAS speakers (posters?) to provide a subset of slides for use in general Interferometry talks by others: In progress.
  9. Rachel: Provide a list of upcoming relevant meetings for the next USIC meeting: Done.
  10. Hal: Provide a slide (slides?) to be shown at the beginning perhaps during the AAS interferometry session to promote the splinter meeting: Done.
  11. Steve (or was that Charles.....?): Find out who best to write to to start the lobbying process for the decadal report: Done.
  12. All: Write a short statement of what we think we want from the decadal report and send it to Theo who will compile a summary: Done


The meeting was quite well attended, with over 40 people showing up. The thrust of this meeting was mostly to make people aware of USIC and the upcoming Decadal Review.

After the initial introductions Steve Ridgway gave a brief talk on the the current status in the US, including a very interesting plot of Interferometry based science publications as compared to a similar time period for Radio Interferometry, a summary of the ReStar findings and a description of the USIC group.

This was followed by a similar talk by Andreas Quirrenbach describing the current European outlook. He mentioned a parallel organization to USIC called the European Interferometry Initiative, a community network of 14 countries, ESO and ESA with the purpose of coordinating European activities and develop long term strategy. His main thrust was to advocate international cooperation in the long term.

Theo ten Brummelaar then described the current status of the Review Panel process, essentially that money had not yet been forthcoming to run the panel and they expect to select panel members by the middle of this year. A lively discussion followed.

Copies of the power point presentations are given here, and more detailed notes of the discussion are available on request.

Theo ten Brummelaar's Presentation.
Steve Ridgways's Presentation.


Not much progress here. Tom Armstrong noted that when this was last done they contact the Editor directly and suggested the article. Theo will do the same.


His email of February 2nd 2008 made the following suggestions:

1. Develop a title, a community base, and a history.

The USIC, membership, AAS activities, and participation in the NOAO workshop all contribute. Some activity might be planned for the SPIE, and the next winter AAS is very timely.

Steve suggest we create a history and network of activities. This includes the WiKi page, as well as our planned meetings at the SPIE and AAS.

2. Communicate with community leaders who have reason to be supportive to discuss mutual interests and how to coordinate support.

Part of the idea is simply to sound-out the targets, and part is to encourage them to speak out and support, with the assurance that they have backing which serves their interests (either narrowly or broadly defined), to some extent. I think of obvious leaders that are likely to be asked formally to participate in Decadal planning and implementation: NOAO director Todd Boroson, Keck director Taft Armandroff, ReSTAR Chair Caty Pilachowski. Try to add to the list.

Steve further commented that certain people exist that are inevitably involved in the panel and we should start talking to them, as well as identify others. It was also pointed out that Hal qualifies as an observatory Director and should therefore qualify to sit on a sub-panel. Wes Traub (JPL) is another likely candidate as is Charles Alcock (CfA).

Steve suggests a good approach is to make them aware of USIC and seek their advice on how to proceed and start a communication channel from there.

3. Presentations to the Decadal.

There should be something like a white paper - the broader the participation, especially as demonstrated by signatories, the better. There should also be an attempt to get a hearing at a public session - I think that 30 minutes would be typical - with one of the organs of the Decadal - subcommittee or whatever. Having participated in several of these, I would make a couple of points. It is best to have as a spokesperson somebody both young and prominent. And it really helps to have some supporters present - this generates an additional level of attention and energy that is hard to quantify.

It is likely that an audience with a sub-comity might last 30 minutes, and we should plan to do this. John Monnier was suggested as a good candidate to do this. This is most likely to occur in the range of October 2008 to June 2009.

Rachael commented that our approach would depend of the planned approach of the panel: Instrumentation or Science based. This is not known at this time, even the budget and what exactly they will be asked to do is unknown.


It seems no of us will be attending the next AAS meeting, but we agree that we should at least update the Broacher. Michelle agreed to ask someone from Goddard to put them around. A breakout session at the SPIE has been set up.

Rachael presented a list of upcoming Astronomical meetings of relevance to Interferometry. Particular meetings were mentioned with suggestions for attendees:

Transit Meeting in Boston in May: Ellyn Baines might be a good candidate.
Central Kilo-parsec of AGNs Greece in June: Someone from VLTI? Rachael will talk to the Keck people.
Protostellar Disks Greece in July: Rachael knows the SoC and will talk to them.
Evolution and Pulsation of Massive Stars Belgium in July: Michelle will talk to some people, including Doug Gies.
Cool Stars At Andrews in July: Rafael has written the the SoC. Andy has already been invited to a talk at a splinter session.

It was agreed that this is worth doing again in about six months.


The WiKi page needs updating to include material in the old broacher and other things, including making sure we are clear about our focus. Steve suggests links to other resources. Theo to ask PJ (CHARA night assistant) to work on this.


At Michelle's suggestion we had along discussion concerning expanding the membership of USIC to include people from groups such as Godard, JPL and U of A. The consensus was that. while we are happy to have people participate as observers we should make sure they understand our focus is on ground based instruments in the US. Several names were suggested and will be informed of the upcoming meetings.




  1. Theo: Write to Physics Today Editors about article. Update WiKi. Talk to John Monnier about representing us at Decadal sub-committee.
  2. Steve: Talk to Wes Traub about the Decadal Review.
  3. Andy: Talk to Charles Alcock about the Decadal Review.
  4. Michelle: Ask people from Goddard if they will be attending the AAS and if they would be willing to distribute the broacher. Note: Nils Turner from CHARA will be there and might do the same.
  5. All: Contact people concerning attending upcoming science meetings.
  6. Rachael: Send Theo the list of upcoming meetings for the WiKi page.

NEXT MEETING: April 17th 2008