The next in the series of posts about the AAS Meeting comes from Kartik Sheth, member of the AAS's Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy. Here's Kartik's entry:
The most amazing thing happened at this AAS for me. All of a sudden I was seeing a lot of diverse faces. A lot of young astronomers of color. I have been to nearly every AAS in the last decade and this was the first time I felt that I was witnessing a real sea change. I hope that this trend continues and we finally see some real change in the overall numbers of under-represented minorities in our field at all levels. Our CSMA informal dinner organized by eVite and word of mouth had over 55 people show up! It was a wonderful evening. The mentoring workshop organized by Dara Norman was a hit. So overall, I am really buoyed by all of this -- as a member of the CSMA and as the AAS Liaison to the national AIP committee on minorities, I feel that lots of little changes we have all been making are starting to pay off!
My other observation from this very large meeting was the incredible variety of excellent science and extra-science activities. I always felt I was missing something and wishing I could be in two or three places at once. I attended the leadership and negotiations workshops organize by Kelle Cruz and also the splinter session on "green" astronomy. The poster session was overwhelming but in spite of over a 3000 person meeting, I did manage to find nearly everyone I wanted to and ran into people often. Thank God for cell phones and Google searching on my phone! ;) Btw - I think the Marriott Wardman is an excellent setting for such a large meeting esp. with its generous lobby and bar (which has very poor service but otherwise ok).
The AAS party was a hit as always although perhaps we are getting too big for it? In spite of the very cold weather, Heaven and Hell was completely crowded with astronomers dancing into the wee hours of the morning drinking holy water. The DJ (in Heaven) at least was not the greatest with very short versions of songs in the mixes but still fun. Unfortunately I had a talk the next morning and had to be responsible and back at the hotel at a reasonable hour.
Overall a great meeting..I look forward to the next winter AAS in Seattle.