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Appendix: Personal Comments by Russell Hemley

These comments are intended to supplement the principal points made in the Committee Report. At the outset, I would like to restate the findings of the Committee that the ISEI is an exceptional institution, in many ways without equal anywhere in the world. Its traditional strengths in high-pressure research and geochemistry have been extended and are complemented by thriving new initiatives, using a large number of new techniques (e.g., in chemical analysis, spectroscopy, sintered diamond technology, synchrotron radiation methods, diamond-anvil cell). Moreover, a spirited and energetic group of people, many quite young, do an impressive job of maintaining, if not designing and building, their own equipment, as well as carrying out research on the forefront of their science. The infrastructure and facilities are in excellent condition. In this respect, problems noted in the previous report have been largely resolved.
I would like to comment on several items related to personnel, the key strength of any such institution. First, the current organization of the personnel within the ISEI is partly an historical legacy; although rather artificial, the structure appears to be quite useful in helping to foster collaboration and interaction among scientists, groups, and divisions. This is most evident in the high-pressure (Earth Evolution) and magma/melt (Basic Volcanology) divisions, which share many interests and techniques. Basic Volcanology, the newest division, includes a mix of modern petrology, fieldwork, theoretical modeling, and spectroscopy; its strength could be enhanced by greater interactions with other groups. The Planetary Materials division (e.g., PML) is world class, with arguably the best facility under one roof anywhere, and consists of a dynamic, enthusiastic team that is expertly led. One expects that this already very prolific group will have growing impact throughout the world, and there will be enhanced interaction and collaboration between this group and others within the Institute.
I have been most familiar with the activity of the historically very strong high-pressure group. This is also world-class and continues to push the frontier with the development of new techniques, such as the sintered diamond project and applications of synchrotron radiation. The laser-heated diamond cell lab (formally in Basic Volcanology) is a significant and welcome complement to the large volume (multi-anvil) program, and strong support should be given to enhance this program, including the addition of personnel (including those who can do both kinds of experiments). The diamond-cell program may profit enormously by taking advantage of SPRing8 for synchrotron radiation experiments. There is a critical need to hire a permanent staff member for structure analysis of high-pressure samples, preferably someone trained in electron microscopy as well as x-ray methods. Also, the Institute as a whole could benefit from the hiring of additional persons (at various levels) in the area of laser (optical and vibrational) spectroscopy.
The Committee Report listed five recommendations of changes that might further enhance the vitality and excellence of ISEI: (1) Employing high-level engineers; (2) enlarging the number of graduate students; (3) developing research targets; (4) increasing communication with the geodynamics community; (5) improving guest house accommodations. I would like to add the following to the discussion of the first four points contained in the Report.
(1) As stated in the Report, there is a paramount need for more technical support (engineers) to build, maintain, and operate the vast array of increasingly sophisticated equipment at the Institute. Scientific productivity is not maximized by having the scientists (at any level) taking on tasks of technicians. Designing and machining can in some cases be carried out very effectively by scientists using modern computer-aided techniques; in these instances, there is a need for state-of-the-art instrumentation and software, but in other areas technicians are crucial.
(2) Efforts should continue to bring more people (post-doctoral fellows, senior scientists, as well as graduate students) to the Institute in order to maximize its scientific impact. This situation has greatly improved in the last few years, but the Institute will continue to prosper by attracting and training still more people. The student visitor program introduced by the geochemistry group could be adapted as an Institute-wide initiative.
(3) Science could be enhanced by promoting still more interaction and collaborations within the Institute. The variety of projects underway is a great strength, and the Director and group leaders should allow the staff, post-doctoral fellows, and students complete freedom to pursue scientific problems that interest them - even those that extend beyond the Earth sciences - as long as the research is on the cutting edge of science and represents the most effective utilization of available resources. Nevertheless, ISEI could benefit from institute-wide research targets, initiatives, or missions, that would effectively utilize its resident expertise and facilities in attacking major problems that cannot be solved on a smaller scale. Such activity, however, should be complemented by the continued nurturing of projects on smaller scale (by individual investigators and smaller collaborations between groups).
(4) The addition of Masaru Kono as Director brings a totally new observational geophysical perspective to the Institute. Not only does this provide the possibility of new collaborative research in geomagnetism, but this is an opportunity for extended outreach to the greater geophysics community in Japan and elsewhere (e.g., seismology, geodynamics, as well as magnetism), which so far has had little direct interface with the Institute and its members. This outreach could begin with workshops, inter-institutional research projects, interdisciplinary sessions at national and international meetings. There may also be new opportunities and connections in space sciences and biology, which could be developed with the hiring of young people with these interests.
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