The 4th EuroCal Management Committee Meeting

The 4th EuroCal Management Committee Meeting was held in Athens, Greece, in July of 2016. The location was chosen to coincide with the location of the 2016 European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) meeting, which is the annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society. Many EuroCal project members were already planning to travel to Athens for EWASS, so the choice of location was particularly opportune. FORTH was represented by Management Committee Member Prof. V. Charmandaris and by Task Leaders Prof. V. Pavlidou, Prof. I. Papadakis, and Prof. K. Tassis. MPIfR was represented by Dr. E. Angelakis. Caltech was represented by Dr. T. Pearson in person, and by Prof. A. Readhead, who joined by telecon. The Meeting took place in parallel with the 6th RoboPol Collaboration meeting.

This was the final Management Committee meeting as, at the time that it took place, there were only a few months left before the expiration of the EuroCal project. For this reason, the focus of the Management Committee was the evaluation of (a) the scientific results of the project; (b) the training and transfer of knowledge activities that took place within the framework of the project; (c) the dissemination of project results; (d) planning for the continuation, beyond the expiration of the project, of the long-term collaborations that were fostered and/or seeded by the project.

The Management Committee noted that the scientific output of the project exceeded every expectation, with a total of 55 publications in refereed journals, on a diverse array of topics covering all project tasks coming about as a direct product of collaborations developed and/or fostered through the project. The scientific results included two breakthrough discoveries: that of the nature of optopolarimetric rotations in blazar jets, which were conclusively shown to be associated with gamma-ray activity in blazars; and that of the nature of the dominant foreground for studies of polarization B-modes (3-dimensional interstellar medium effects, an effect which was first proposed by project members Pavlidou and Tassis and which was subsequently shown by the Planck Collaboration to play a dominant role in obscuring the detection of inflationary B-modes in CMB polarization).

The Management Committee verified that the transfer-of-knowledge and training activities significantly enhanced the scientific skillset of both the young researchers that were associated with the project as well as the permanent personnel of the partners. In active galaxy observations, secondments at FORTH, Caltech, and MPIfR ensured training of young scientists and permanent personnel in optopolarimetry, radio, and high-energy X-ray observations. In the star-formation leg of the project, memebrs were trained in the analysis of Herschel data, as well as in the theoretical techniques that are needed to bridge models with observations.

The dissemination of results is multi-faceted, including refereed publications, posting of said publications in the freely available arXiv archive, participation in international conferences and workshops. The Management Committee agreed that the wealth of results from the project will continue to be discussed in international conferences and have significant scientific impact beyond the end of the project.

The Management Committee noted that at its conclusion, the project has enabled connections between the partner institutions that will clearly outlast the project, including the exchange of participating scientists now to longer-term postdoctoral positions: ESR Kiehlmann from MPIfR and ESR Panopoulou from U. of Crete are scheduled to continue to postdoctoral positions at Caltech; ER Max-Moerbeck, who was a graduate student at Caltech, has commenced a postdoctoral appointment at MPIfR.

The Management Committee finally reiterated the finding from previous meetings that MPIfR had overall a smaller number of secondments than originally planned; the Committee identified that there have been two causes for this situation: (a) a disproportionate number of original MPIfR participants that faced reasons beyond their control that forced them to change their secondment plans mid-project (including moving to industry positions, or the arrival of new family members that limited their mobility); (b) and originally unforeseen need for observers to run the RoboPol program in Crete, which absorbed a significant fraction of time of the remaining MPIfR participants that were scheduled to be seconded to Caltech.