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IfA Visitors Program

Bill Bottke
In June, visitor Bill Bottke gave an exciting Frontiers of Astronomy Community Lecture, "CSI Solar System: Using the Computer to Investigate the Nature of Comets and Asteroids."

The Institute for Astronomy has a long history of professional visitors coming for six months to a year as part of a self-financed sabbatical. Recently, however, the IfA has established a formal Visitors Program to provide partial support of academic visitors to the Institute. This enables the IfA to bring in scientists from other parts of the world who might not otherwise be able to afford an extended stay in Hawaii.

The benefits a visitor will provide to the IfA's research and teaching programs are given the most weight when deciding whether to offer financial support to a prospective visitor. In many cases, this includes the visitor giving a series of lectures or a seminar in his or her area of special expertise.

Any IfA faculty member can submit a request for partial support of an academic visitor. Requests reviewed favorably by the IfA Faculty Advisory Committee are then forwarded to the Visitors Program Committee, which decides the appropriate amount of financial support to offer, provided money is available.

Visitors may receive airfare, a per diem payment, or accommodations in "Astro Hale," a two-bedroom apartment in the IfA faculty-housing complex within walking distance of the IfA. As part of its contributions to the UH NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI), UH agreed to provide an apartment for the Astrobiology Visitor Program. The IfA Visitor Program and NAI split Astro Hale's costs, with IfA paying 75 percent and NAI, 25 percent, and they share its use in approximately the same ratio.

A recent visitor supported by the program was William F. Bottke Jr., an expert on asteroids from the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. In addition to giving a Frontiers of Astronomy Community Lecture for the general public, he gave a series of lectures aimed at astronomers and those affiliated with NAI, the Center for Star and Planet Formation, and the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology.

In June, Jean Surdej from Li├Ęge University in Belgium gave a series of lectures about gravitational lensing. In mid-August, Luciano Iess arrived from Rome for a three-week visit that included a series of seminars about the Cassini mission to Saturn and the upcoming BepiColombo mission to Mercury. Andrew Liddle (University of Sussex, UK) is here from September through March to collaborate with IfA scientists and to give a graduate seminar, Early Universe Physics.

Other visitors who will be giving lectures and seminars are Igor Karachentsev from Russia's Special Astrophysical Observatory (mid-September through October), Larry Widrow from Queen's University in Canada (January), and Joan Najita and Arjun Dey from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson (January through April).