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Imagining the future of ACS meetings

by Rick Ewing, Chair, Committee on Meetings and Expositions and Lee Latimer, ACS Director-at-large, cochairs of the task force on the future of meetings
February 15, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 7

Have you been to an American Chemical Society national or regional meeting lately? Over 30% of the ACS membership goes each year.

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Credit: Courtesy of Rick Ewing
Rick Ewing

What did you think of it?

Notice anything different that you thought worked well?

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Credit: Courtesy of Lee Latimer
Lee Latimer

Got suggestions?

We want to hear from you!

As part of the process for strategic planning at ACS, observations from outside firms are collected to help us look over the horizon and begin to address new directions for many activities. Meetings are a big part of the ACS experience and an area we watch with interest. A recent assessment pointed to the future of meetings and conferences as a dynamic area of likely change.

The ACS Board of Directors established a task force to gather input and make recommendations on the events and conferences that the society organizes and supports. The nine members of the task force focus primarily on national and regional meetings and are engaging members and stakeholders for their thoughts and recommendations.

The range of events and conferences that we as a society are involved in is as wide as the many divisions and chemical fields that make up our discipline. National meetings, regional meetings, specialty conferences, local meetings, and topical symposia, both nationally and internationally, are among the panorama of events that ACS supports.

ACS’s flagship events are the two national meetings we hold each year, where we showcase our progress in science, communicate new information, and connect through various networking events. These meetings are also a place where we carry out experiments in content delivery, such as livestreaming the Kavli lectures, hosting short talks in the expo area, showcasing creative poster formats such as e-posters, and facilitating headset-enabled presentations. Extra attention is paid to enhancing the experience and networking opportunities for industrial members.

Regional meetings mirror the large meetings in many ways but have their own advantages. In particular, they allow for more time to talk with other members. They also assist local sections in meeting their goals of developing new leaders and are a less intimidating place for first-time presenters. Many new formats have recently been used, including 1-day “nanomeetings,” tightly focused content meetings, and traditional regional meetings in new venues. There’s also a greater desire for involvement by divisions and local companies. Colocation with other meetings offers attendees at both meetings the opportunity to experience science in new areas.

In addition to technical sessions, the national meetings and some regional meetings offer career consulting, career development workshops, and a career fair. These offerings are run primarily through the Committee on Economic and Professional Affairs. Please share any thoughts or suggestions that you have on any of these important aspects of the national meeting with us at m&e@acs.org.

ACS is also deeply engaged with events like the ACS Safety Summits, ACS on Campus, ACS Career Days, the recent meeting of the Asian chemistry chapters in South Korea, and many other events. If you have experience with any of these events and have suggestions on how to improve them—or if you have ideas for new types of events we should consider organizing—please let us know.

Getting together with other chemists is the reason ACS was started and remains the key reason members come together. With the pace of technology and time pressures, getting the most out of the meeting experience is critical to the vibrant organization we all want. How attendees at our meetings experience and enjoy the meetings is always on the minds of planners. They have numerous ongoing experiments, and your input is very important to the success, progress, and anticipation of what lies over the horizon.

Make your voice heard with your comments and suggestions by emailing m&e@acs.org. We look forward to hearing every opinion!

Views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of C&EN or ACS.

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