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.
NEW CHARGE FROM THE ALMA BOARD: HAVE THE PRIMARY SCIENCE GOALS BEEN MET?
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.
ALMA BOARD CHARGE: 2 VS 3 YEAR CONFIGURATION CYCLE
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.
POSSIBLE CHANGES TO PROPOSAL REVIEW MODEL
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.