The 318th meeting of Council was held on 26th September in a well-hidden Board Room in the Food Sciences department at Reading University. After Bogdan had assiduously ferried everyone into the Board Room (and Xue-Feng had escaped from the Ring Road) we made a start soon after 12.
Our first major topic of discussion was the state of the Society's finances. This was David Binding's first Council meeting as Treasurer and he was pleased to be able to report a much smaller projected loss this year than in the last few years. This was partly attributable to Rheology Reviews and partly to this website - both ventures on which Council had committed to invest in the short term, and both of which were discussed in more detail later on. We will need to eliminate the small losses we are currently running eventually, but the trend (and the balance in the bank) is pretty healthy.
Much of the rest of the meeting focused on either Rheology Reviews or the website: these two topics (and particularly the website) seem to have infinite potential for discussion!
The 2006 edition of Rheology Reviews was with the printers (a week later than planned, which seems to be a miraculously small slippage!) and the articles for the 2007 edition are in hand. In addition, Thompson Scientific have now agreed to incorporate the reviews into the ISI indexing databases (Web of Science and so on), which is a real coming-of-age for the journal. The 2005 articles have now been indexed; 2003 and 2004 remain to be done. I note (from the commentary on meeting 313, well before I joined Council) that we have committed to support Rheology Reviews for the 2006 and 2007 editions, and watch the budget with care. Although each edition so far has lost money, the trend is positive - with sponsorship coming in and costs being tightened, we expect the 2007 edition to come close to breaking even. This venture has been a huge success for the society and looks set to continue in style with Roland Keunings as editor. Much of the credit for this is due to David Binding, who has put in an enormous amount of work, above and beyond what we should be expecting of our Council members.
One area where the website has made a big impact is membership. I believe that before the recent overhaul of the site, many of our members had not paid subscriptions, some for several years, simply through lack of annual reminders and the Standing Order facility. (I speak from experience as I distinctly remember paying 3 years' subs at once, at a BSR annual meeting...). Now all the membership records are online - as a BSR member, you can check your own status on the website, and as Council members we can check up on you too! The man who might is Phil James, who has just taken over as membership secretary from Mike Webster. Much of the handover has been a question of Mike showing Phil the knots and wrinkles of the inner workings of the web database. There were 43 new members this year, bringing the membership up to around 400, which is a very healthy size for the Society. The income from membership can largely be attributed to the web work, but of course there are still a few problems to be ironed out. We spent some time talking about how best to ensure that we don't send demands for payment - or indeed anything else - to our deceased members!
We also had a protracted discussion of the short-term future of the website: what needs changing, what can wait, and how much we are prepared to pay. Presented with four possible tasks to implement, we compromised (of course!) and over the next year or so the website will be upgraded to allow conference management, and moved onto a more stable database format (MySQL rather than Access, if anyone outside of Council cares!). There was also some discussion of supporting an in-house rheology database; time will tell on that one.
Enough of the website, we now moved on to the Non-Newtonian Club. Jason reported on a very successful meeting in summer 2006, with 31 people attending. The next is planned for February.
This year there have been four entries for the Vernon Harrison doctoral prize - which is a very happy view on the state of rheology in the UK. A judging committee was formed containing only neutral members of Council - not an easy task with four very different candidates from around the UK! The winner will be invited to speak at the BSR Winter meeting in Manchester, and be presented with £500, a certificate and a copy of Rheology Reviews 2006.
We'll meet again at that meeting: we'll look forward to the presentation from the Vernon Harrison prizewinner!
STOP PRESS: The prizewinner couldn't make the Manchester meeting so we'll await him at Lake Vrnwy instead.