The 4th North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC) conference "Assembly, Gas Content and Star Formation History of Galaxies" was held at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia on September 21 - 24, 2009, under the sponsorship of NRAO, NAASC, the University of the Virginia, AUI, and the NSF. The meeting was praised as a major success by the participants, largely due to the breadth of the science program, the participation of a large number of early career researchers, and the seamless way in which the conference was organized and run by the LOC and IT support.
Approximately 170 astronomers attended, making this the largest NAASC science conference to date. The attendees included over 60 graduate students and postdoctoral scholars, and the majority of the participants were not traditional radio astronomers. As a result, the presentations covered observations and theoretical modeling across a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum.
The meeting began with a discussion of fundamental issues related to star formation, with a general overview of star formation, the initial mass function of stars, star formation laws and diagnostics. This section was followed by presentations focusing on the gas content and star formation in nearby normal galaxies, nearby and cosmologically distant starburst galaxies and galaxies known to harbor AGN. A significant number of talks covered galaxy evolution through massive mergers and accretion, the effects of environment on galaxy evolution, and the effects of stellar and AGN feedback on ongoing star formation within galaxies.
The science talks were complemented by presentations of upcoming facilities such as the ALMA, EVLA, SKA, and Herschel Space Telescope, and included discussions of how these facilities could be used together to do innovative extragalactic research in the age of ALMA. Despite the broad wavelength coverage of the presentations, the manner in which the research presented could be enhanced with ALMA was the primary theme throughout the conference. The end result was a fresh view of ALMA science through the eyes of potential newcomers to radio and millimeter astronomy.
In addition to the science program, a tour of the NRAO Technology Center was provided on the first day of the meeting, followed by the Director’s reception. Aaron Evans (NRAO/UVA) and Brian Kent (NRAO) co-Chaired the Science Organizing Committee (SOC); additional SOC participants were Lee Armus (Caltech), Andrew Blain (Caltech), Daniela Calzetti (UMass), Chris Carilli (NRAO), Mike Fall (STScI), Tim Heckman (JHU), Shardha Jogee (UT Austin), Carol Lonsdale (NRAO), Xavier Prochaska (UCSC), David Sanders (Hawaii), Hsien Shang (ASIAA), and Christine Wilson (McMaster University). The Local Organizing Committee was chaired by Laurie Clark and included Brian Kent, John Hibbard, Manuel Aravena, Robert O'Connell, and Aaron Evans.