ANASAC minutes: 2018 Feb 13 telecon

Present: Jin Koda, Kate Su, Chris DePree, Rachel Osten, Chris Wilson, Giles Novak, Dan Marrone, Stephen White, Al Wootten, Phil Jewell, Tony Remijan

Items discussed primarily focused on topics for the upcoming ASAC meeting.


Al reported that the Ambassadors program is strong and growing, including Ambassadors from outside the US who cannot be supported by NAASC and rely on non-ALMA funding for their contribution.


Goal 1 of CO in a normal galaxy at z=3 has not been met, but (per Al) original goal did not account for the role of dark energy pushing z=3 further away; goal 2 of gas kinematics in protoplanetary disks, have some CO measurements of nearby disks; goal 3 of high SNR images at 0.1" resolution, presumably met, eg, HL Tau.

A new set of roadmap science goals for the next phase is being settled on, will be discussed further at the ASAC f2f.


The ALMA board has requested that ASAC revisit this question. ASAC considered the proposal at the last meeting and, despite the clear preference of the project for a 3-year cycle in order to save costs, ASAC recommended against the 3 year cycle on the grounds that it lacked any compact configurations in year 2 of the cycle, and it would limit the ability to carry over A-ranked proposals from one cycle to the next if all configurations were not available each year. This could affect grad students if, for example, weather downtime wiped out an observation that would have to wait 3 years to be repeated. Discussion emphasized that the impact of any change on grad students needs to be considered. This topic will again be considered at ASAC with further information. Planning for Cycle 7 is underway, so any decision needs to be made soon.

Al mentioned that the 7m array will again likely need additional projects to be allocated to fill the available time. One change that they would like to make is the ability to do high-frequency projects (bands 7,9) on the ACA at any time: this has been demonstrated but is not permitted under the current policy.


Responding to complaints, including those of ASAC, that the workload on ALMA reviewers is excessive (one estimate is that it costs each reviewer 1 work-month per year), the project has been investigating alternate review models. In addition to reviewer workload, reducing review costs is an important driver for the project, although our role is to make a scientific assessment of any changes. The preferred model is the "distributed peer review" model, in which PIs who submit proposals are responsible for reviewing (by themselves, or by someone they assign) and scoring 16 other proposals. Final allocations would be based on the average scores: each proposal would get more reviews than in the current system since there are many more reviewers, but there is a large cost saving since there is no face-to-face panel meeting and hence no travel. The telecon discussed this proposal at length. Rachel Osten described the current HST model for about 1000 proposals per cycle, where the workload is not as high but still imposing. It was noted that several (implicit) reviewing biases tend to be stronger when the workload is high. Concern was expressed about the conscientiousness of the reviewers, sitting in their own office with no need to justify themselves at a panel. Al noted that ALMA staff will miss the discussions that they have and feedback they receive from the reviewers at the meetings, since otherwise they tend to have few opportunities for direct contact with ALMA users. A number of other issues were raised.


ASAC will be asked to provide an opinion on a number of planned development projects. Al mentioned in particular a simulator development effort at JAO that will be critical for minimizing downtime associated with major system upgrades such as installation of a new correlator, which is another development project.

-- AlWootten - 2018-02-23
Topic revision: r1 - 2018-02-23, AlWootten
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