Director's Report for 2023 Q3

Dear AAVSO Members, Observers, and Supporters,

Welcome to our first quarterly report, but now in blog format. It is with great pleasure that I share with you insights into the progress and achievements of AAVSO over the last quarter. In this report, I share some updates about the upcoming Annual Meeting; introduce a new staff member, and discuss two items related to strategic planning.

Preparations for Annual Meeting

The staff and I are busy making final preparations for the AAVSO’s 112th Annual Meeting  schedule to take place at The Row Hotel in Somerville, MA from November 3 - 5. We have a total of 19 talks and 4 posters scheduled. Scientific topics include binary stars, classical variables, flares, giants, supergiants, semi-regular variables, planet formation, and exoplanets. We also have two talks on telescopes and observing.

We are pleased to announce the following keynote speakers and the topics of their presentation:

  • Dr. Dipankar Maitra - AAVSO and Undergraduate Institutions: Synergies, and Testbed for New Technologies
  • Dr. Paula Szkody - Landolt Lecturer - 40 years of Research on Cataclysmic Variables with AAVSO
  • Dr. Catherine Espaillat - Looking for the Footprints of Protoplanets
  • Dr. Gail Schaefer - Imaging Stars with the CHARA Array

We hope to see you there!

New Marketing and Communication Coordinator

In September, we welcomed Tim Lyster to the AAVSO Staff as our new Marketing and Communications Coordinator. Tim brings a wealth of experience, holding a B.S. in Physics with Astrophysics from the University of Kent at Canterbury and a M.S. in Astronomy from Sussex University. With a robust background in sales and marketing acquired from various organizations in the Boston area, Tim is well equipped to fulfill his role at the AAVSO. His responsibilities will encompass writing engaging blog posts, managing our social media channels, soliciting sponsors for AAVSO events, and enhancing our communications with Members. Tim will be at the upcoming Annual Meeting so if you see him there, please welcome him to the team.

Audit of Technical Infrastructure

We also conducted a comprehensive audit of AAVSO’s technical infrastructure in order to establish a pathway towards modernizing our systems. The audit, encompassing all 74 of our applications and 24 databases paved the way for strategic improvement. We now have plans to replace several applications with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions, migrate some services to containers running on low-cost compute nodes, and reduce the number of programming languages employed across our systems. These actions should reduce the costs of running our web services, improve interoperability, and make it easier for our staff to maintain.

Strategic Plan Evaluation Working Group

At the August 2023 Board Meeting, the Board of Directors authorized the creation of a Strategic Plan Evaluation Working Group. This group will evaluate our progress toward the goals in our 2021 Strategic Plan and recommend if additional work is needed or if a new plan should be created.

Clear Skies,

Dr. Brian Kloppenborg
Executive Director, AAVSO