Catch up with FIGMAS

Dear Microanalytical Community,

In the summer of 2018, the Focused Interest Group on MicroAnalytical Standards (FIGMAS) will celebrate its 2-year anniversary. Time for us to look back at the past and onto the future! Our primary goals remain unchanged: building a strong community-based database that would list all available information possible on standards and reference materials used by the microanalytical community (SEM, EPMA, LA-ICP-MS, SIMS, etc.), and preparing the terrane for the reference materials of tomorrow. In the following I would like to update you on news and events around FIGMAS activities.

 

Web-database

First, we have been working on a web-based interface that would not only list all this information, but also enable users and members of our group to enter new standards information or to suggest an update. This web interface at http://figmas.org is still in development, and the webmaster (hum… myself) apologizes for taking so long to finish it. I promise to get back to it soon! We also invite you to send your information on standards and reference materials. A forum has also been opened on FIGMAS to allow members to discuss their experience with reference materials, their preparation and maintenance, etc.

 

Survey and round-robin

Second, we need to evaluate the needs of standards for the next century, and to facilitate the creation of synthetic materials or the (re-)collection of natural ones. A survey has been running over the past month among our members to dress a list of potential candidates for a “new standard”, and you will soon have the opportunity to vote for one or more of the suggested materials / minerals. With the help of John Fournelle and Gareth Seward, we are preparing a round robin to permit testing your laboratory performances and evaluating a couple “surprise” minerals… More will be revealed later this year if all goes as planned.

 

Pre-Meeting Congress at M&M 2018

Let me take here the opportunity to remind you of our Pre-Meeting Congress X61 at the Microscopy & Microanalysis 2018 meeting in Baltimore (MD) on Saturday August 5th. This PMC, the first of its kind organized by FIGMAS, consists of a one-day meeting combining invited talks, round-table discussions, and poster presentations from contributors. The attendees will learn about and discuss best practices for standard-less and standard-based methods, and for choosing appropriate standards and reference materials for quantitative analysis by EPMA, SEM and other in situ techniques. An overview of speakers and some more information is available at http://figmas.org. We will also have a poster session, and everyone is encouraged to show their research on standard compositions, synthesis or sample preparation. Deadline for abstract submission is JUNE 1st.

 

Update on FIGMAS membership

Our list of members has been growing consistently, up to a point where it became the largest Focused Interest Group with 73 paying members from 57 difference academic institution at the end of 2017; 31 members have already renewed their membership in the first couple months of 2018. It confirms the interest (and concerns) of the community about standards and reference materials in terms of quality, availability, material creation, etc. It could also be a side-effect of being the first Focused Interest Group approved and supported by both the Microscopy Society of America and the Microanalysis Society. In any case, this venture would have never been possible without you, and we sincerely thank YOU for your support.

 

FIGMAS Business Meeting at M&M 2018

We will have again a FIGMAS business meeting at the upcoming M&M meeting. It will take place on Tuesday, June 7th at 12.15 PM.  We will inform you about the exact location when we know more.

 

Upcoming FIGMAS-elections and transition of leadership

At the end of this year, I will leave the leadership of FIGMAS to Anette von der Handt. I am convinced Anette will do an excellent job, and FIGMAS will be in very good hands. I wish her success in this endeavor! On my end, I will remain webmaster of the website and of course in close contact with the community. As a consequence, a ballot will be organized to nominate a new leader-elect and a secretary-treasurer during the FIGMAS business meeting on Tuesday August 8th at noon. Owen Neill is standing for re-election to the secretary-treasurer position, while we are also accepting other nominations. FIGMAS members can nominate a suitable candidate using the form available in the member section of the FIGMAS website (https://figmas.org/login.php). It has been a great honor and pleasure to meet all of you, and to serve for the community. Long live FIGMAS!

 

Yours truly,

 

Julien M. Allaz, FIGMAS leader 2017-2018

MAS Director Emma Bullock heads up the Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers

In early August, 2017, a group of 21 teachers from around the US took part in the Smithsonian Science Education Academy for Teachers (SSEATs) on Earth’s History and Global Change. This program is designed to introduce K-12 teachers to world-class scientists, strategies for science education, and provide resources to take science back to their classrooms. MAS Director Emma Bullock was the Science Coordinator for the week, and accompanied the teachers as they explored how our earth formed, what happens during mass extinctions, and how humans have changed the environment around them.

During the course of the week, the teachers visited the National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration and the Carnegie Institution for Science. Early in the week, Dr. Bullock introduced the teachers to meteorites, and explored what they can tell us about the origins of our Solar System, and other planetary bodies. This was followed by a tour of the U.S. national meteorite collection, where the teachers had the opportunity to hold pieces of the moon and Mars in their hands. At Carnegie, the teachers interacted with more world-class scientists, and had the opportunity to get hands-on with a mass spectrometer to age-date some zircon crystals. The group also learned how to perform geochemical analysis using a field-emission JEOL scanning electron microscope equipped with an Oxford EDS system.