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USNC/IAU Activities at 2009 General Assembly
Sponsored by the USNC/IAU through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the third Women in Astronomy Luncheon was a great success. Organized by the Women Astronomers Working Group (WAWG), and in particular Anne Green, Sarah Maddison and Miriani Pastoriza, the August 10 luncheon attracted a full capacity crowd of 240 people. The geographical distribution ranged from large, developed countries to developing countries. Over 90 percent of participants were women.
Following opening remarks, informal invited talks were given by Duilia de Mello and Thaisa Storchi Bergmann. They shared their experiences as Brazilian female astronomers. Each table then held a small group discussion about specific issues pertaining to careers of women astronomers. Each table had 8-10 people, and included women astronomers at all levels and from different countries. A number of interesting and lively discussions ensued, and summaries of each were written down and saved.
Many of the participants supported the idea of a one day Special Session on women in astronomy at the next GA. This Special Session will be planned by the WAWG and incorporate ideas and suggestions reached during the lunch.
Young Astronomer Activities
The IAU General Assembly features several activities geared especially to young astronomers. Sponsored by the USNC/Astronomy through a grant from the National Science Foundation, the most popular was the Young Astronomers workshop luncheon. A regularly over-subscribed event at IAU General Assemblies, the luncheon this year was organized by Jean-Pierre De Greve. K-C Leung (University of Nebraska) and Edward Guinan (Villanova University) assisted Dr. De Greve in the organization of the lunch, particularly in the selection of participants and the discussion topics.
Attended by about 170 people, the Young Astronomers luncheon featured roundtable discussions involving 1-2 senior astronomers and 8-9 young astronomers. Discussions focused on career paths, research funding, successful job strategies, fellowships opportunities. The future of astronomy in different countries and job prospects in the U.S. were also discussed. A questionnaire was completed by the participants at the end of the event. Almost all attendees considered the event a success and recommended that a similar event be offered at the 2012 GA.
Most of the young astronomers had received their PhD, but a few were either undergraduates, graduate students without a PhD, or in postdoc positions. Almost all were between 20 and 35 years old.
United States Reception
As in the past, the USNC/IAU sponsored a U.S. Reception during the 2009 General Assembly. Held at the Planeta’rio da Cidade do Rio de Janeiro on the evening of August 6, the event was attended by about 120 people, Supported with private funds, the reception provided a wonderful opportunity for members of the USNC/IAU to meet and talk with current and incoming officers of the IAU, leaders of various astronomical societies, government officials, the local organizing committee, and other important astronomers.