On Monday, I received a press release announcing the new officers and other elected officials of the American Astronomical Society. Quite exciting to me is that both the new president and vice president are women.
Dr. Debra Meloy Elmegreen of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, was elected president. She will serve 1 year as president-elect and 2 years as president, ending in 2012. Dr. Lee Anne Willson of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, was elected vice president. She will serve from 2009 until 2012. Fun fact: Dr. Willson was a professor of mine in graduate school at Iowa State University. I took two classes from her, and I was a teaching assistant for one of her courses.
In both classes (Physics of Astrophysics and Stellar Astrophysics), she required a research project in addition to problem sets and exams. The research project was a great way to dive into a topic that interested each classmate. It also gave us an opportunity to present the research to others (in poster form or PowerPoint form) and write a formal paper — all important abilities in the world of professional science. Instead of focusing on only the course, she had in mind our growth as scientists.
In a field where women are still under-represented, I find it exciting and inspiring to see two women holding the highest positions of North America’s largest society of professional astronomers.
The additional officers are listed below:
Education Officer: Dr. Timothy F. Slater from the Science and Mathematics Teaching Center at the University of Wyoming, Laramie. (Term: 2009-2012)
Councilors (each for the term 2009-2012): Dr. Richard G. French, from Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachusetts; Dr. James D. Lowenthal of Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts; Dr. Jennifer Wiseman of the Laboratory for Exoplanets and Stellar Astrophysics, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland.
Member of the US National Committee for the International Astronomical Union, Category 1: Dr. Brian Chaboyer of Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire. (Term: 2010-2013; "Category 1" means an USNC-IAU committee member who is elected by the membership)
Nominating Committee (each for the term 2009-2012): Dr. Thomas M. Bania from Boston University, Boston; Dr. Gina Brissenden from the Center for Astronomy Education, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, Tucson.