A Word from the ISSI Executive Director

Dear friends of ISSI!

Dear visitors of our website!

I hope you had a good and healthy start into the New Year!

ISSI like so many others have been hit by the Delta and Omicron Corona virus waves at the end of last year and the first months of the present year. Unfortunately, this time some of us got infected with varying degrees of severeness of symptoms. Now that the numbers have begun to decrease, we prepare to resume our program. Meetings by International Teams and Working Groups have been scheduled for the second half of February onwards and the first Workshop – on the Saturnian System – is planned to be held in May 2022. We are looking forward to busy times because so many events had to be postponed.

The 2022 call for International Team proposals is presently open on the ISSI web site with a deadline of March 17th. This call is jointly with ISSI-Beijing. Another open call is for applications for Visiting Scientists. Researchers of all career stages are invited to submit – at any time of the year – research proposals to apply to spend time at ISSI as a Visiting Scientist. The application is open to all scientists who are actively involved in any of the space science research fields. ISSI has – through its history – supported short visits of individual scientists to its premises in Bern. The many visits over the years by eminent scientists have left a prominent mark on the institute.  Given its success, the directorate has recently decided to make this opportunity more accessible by offering a web interface for applications.  

There have been changes in the ISSI directorate and staff as we entered into the new year. Dr. Anny Cazenave, Earth Science director for nine years, ended her term with the end of 2021 and was followed by Prof. Michael Rast. Mike, as we call him, has long been a friend of the institute serving as one of ESA’s liaisons on the Science Committee. Anny has left her mark on ISSI’s record with eight volumes of the Space Science Series published to date under her direction and one more in the writing. By the end of January, Prof. Álvaro Giménez-Canete ended his service as ISSI discipline scientist. Álvaro has been coordinating Forums in Astronomy for ISSI and has been a great adviser. Finally, Julia Venturini finished her term as ISSI postdoctoral research fellow by the end of the same month. Julia will continue working in exoplanet research. We wish her all the best for her future career.  Anny, Julia and Álvaro will remain friends of the institute!

In January 2022, we started another series of ten talks in the Game Changer series, this time on “Habitability from Galactic to Microbial Scales”. The series started off with a talk by Prof. Antonio Lazcano of the University of Mexico on the “the Origin of Life” which happened to be the 50th seminar talk in the series and with 350 visitors one of the most popular ones. The seminars are recorded and available on our website.

Finally, we are sad to report that Dr. Vittorio Manno, former and first Science Program manager of ISSI between 1995 and 2009 passed away on February 1st, 2022 in Brussels where he lived. He will be remembered by all ISSI staff members who have certainly lost a very elegant, respected colleague and a very dear friend.

Stay safe and hope to meet you all in person at ISSI sometime soon!

All the best

Tilman Spohn 

ISSI executive director