Composition: See Bylaws. Fellows may be drawn on for this duty. Committee members must agree that all their deliberations, and the contents of all nominations, are confidential. No Early Career members on this committee.
Committee sends out announcements of events and other news of interest to DBIO Members via Engage.
Committee also posts such announcements via DBIO social media accounts. Each year committee transfers needed account credentials to new members. One Early Career member on this committee.
This committee was organically formed with the goal of increasing meaningful virtual interactions within the DBIO community. Early career (postdoc) team members recruited by Orit and Srividya, Drs. Tapa Bhattacharjee; Jasmine Nirody; Olga Shishkov; and Charlie Wright, manage DBIO’s virtual presence on APS-Engage, Twitter and FB.
Srividya and Orit conceived of the ”Living Histories “ series and organize it during a monthly virtual Happy Hr, open to DBIO members. The team assist with organizing the monthly Happy Hrs.
- Past Program Committees:
Massimo Vergassola (Chair, program chair for DBIO March 2019) Philip Nelson
Vernita Gordon (DBIO Sec/Tres) Meredith Betterton
Eva-Maria S. Collins Jeff Gore
Ilya Nemenman Joshua Shaevitz
Phil Nelson (Chair, program chair for DBIO March 2020) Margaret Gardel (2021 chair)
Vernita Gordon (DBIO Sec/Tres) Meredith Betterton
Eva-Maria S. Collins Jeff Gore
Moumita Das Alexandre Morozov
Margaret Gardel (Chair, program chair for DBIO March 2021), Margaret Cheung (2022 chair),
Huan-Xiang Zhou (DBIO Sec/Tres), Mingming Wu, Taviare Hawkins, Orit Peleg, Moumita Das
- Timeline of Activities
March, Year 1
1) Attend the APS-sponsored meeting at March Meeting for next year Program Chairs. The timeline for the upcoming year will be announced; should be similar to that outlined below. You should receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org in February.
2) Find out who the Program Chairs are for DPOLY, DSOFT, GSNP, etc. You will be working with them to coordinate the programs.
April, Year 1
1) Set the calendar of focus and invited session solicitation and decision making through June/July. Typical deadline to receive focus session proposals is 6/1.
2) Schedule 2 program committee meetings in early and late June to decide on Focus and Invited Sessions. APS typically needs sorting categories by 6/5 so program cmte needs to decide on Focus sessions before then.
3) Send email to DBIO membership to Solicit Sessions for next years meeting by late-April.
May, Year 1
1) Send a reminder to DBIO membership through Engage to submit proposals for Invited and Focus Sessions. (Note: DBIO is unusual in that we solicit Focus and Invited Sessions at the same time. It works well, don’t get confused by other Unit timelines.)
June, Year 1
1) Meetings with Program Cmte to Choose Focus and Invited Sessions. Coordinate with other unit Program Chairs to look for overlap. Although APS deadlines for Invited Sessions isn’t until late July, it is helpful to make the decisions at the same time over 1-2 meetings. Must be held before the deadline for Sorting Categories (so last week in May, early June)
2) Submit Sorting Categories to APS by their imposed deadline (~ June 5).
3) Contact all those who submitted Focus and Invited Sessions to let them know the status of their session. Request modifications to Focus Session descriptions as necessary.
July, Year 1
1) Mid to late July is the deadline for FOCUS session descriptions to be sent to APS.
2) Confer with other units about selected invited sessions for potential co-sponsorship. Make final decisions about invited sessions and inform the proposers. Organizers of invited sessions need to confirm their speakers.
3) The Delbruck winner(s), APS Fellows and Thesis Prize Winners will be announced to assist with planning of Delbruck Session and placing new fellows and Thesis prize winner in a Focus Session.
August, Year 1
1) Decide on workshop/tutorial (Vice Chair’s job) and topic for Town Hall.
2) Enter INVITED Sessions and invited speakers for FOCUS sessions into Scholar One. APS has a “Deadline for Nominations” in August, which is irrelevant for DBIO because we’ve already chosen Invited Sessions.
September, Year 1
1) All invited speakers must be entered in ScholarOne and finalized by APS deadline (late September).
2) Attend APS videoconference in late September where specific days for the invited sessions get set in stone. Before this videoconference, APS will create a tentative grid with invited sessions placed in the week. You can check with organizers in case last-minute conflicts arise. At the videoconference, sessions can be swapped around (to some extent). If there are dates you need to protect, then you have to attend this meeting to protect them. E.g. don’t let them place the Delbruck symposium in conflict with a poster session!
October, Year 1
1) In 2019 there was a deadline of 17 October for you to go into a special database and (a) log any travel support that you have committed to speakers (see “bourses” above). Also (b) doublecheck that every invited speaker you entered really is in the database, and check for accuracy.
2) APS sends invitation letters to INVITED session speakers, and also to invited speakers in FOCUS sessions. They must RSVP and at that time submit their abstract. Note that invited talks must have only one author. Here is a big pitfall: in 2019 & 2020, emission of the official invitation letters was delayed; prior to this there were multiple mails warning everybody to get contributed abstracts in by deadline. Inevitably some invited speakers panicked and mistakenly submitted their abstracts directly, rather than waiting for their invitation e-mail and using the link given in it. Then when they got the invitation, they either ignored it (“I already did that”) or submitted again. Then there was confusion because the regular submission was not linked in any way to the control ID associated to their expected submission. Then when the latter turns out later to be missing, we have to ask APS to manually find the abstract, etc. So to forestall this, send an e-mail to every invited speaker now, both in invited and FOCUS sessions, to wait patiently for their invitation e- mail and use the link therein. Inevitably some will do the wrong thing anyway.
3) Remind FOCUS session organizers to send out advertisement to get abstracts to March Meeting for their sessions.
4) Abstracts for contributed talks and posters are due in late October (10/25).
5) Decide who will help with online sorting. This can include your committee members; certain FOCUS session proposers; and other volunteers whom you consider reliable. Decide which sorting categories to assign to which person. Their contact info, including institution name, must be submitted to APS in advance via a spreadsheet that they will send you (deadline 18 October in 2019).
November, Year 1
1) Confirm that next year’s chair will come to the in-person sorting meeting in December, or if not, line up a substitute. (Hopefully sorting will remain virtual)
2) Abstract deadline for INVITED talks and posters. Abstracts due a week after regular deadline.
3) Give sorters guidance and deadlines via email for online sorting. They (and you) will get an e-mail from APS with instructions and invitation to online training for the online sorting software. Follow this up with some DBIO-specific guidelines (see Appendix for 2019 edition).
December, Year 1
1) APS Sorters’ meeting in early December. Program Chair and next year’s program chair need to go. If sorting has not been completed, this needs to happen there. You will advocate for DBIO Session Times and Rooms at this time and horsetrade with other units – this is the main goal of the in person meeting (but was done virtually in 2020).
2) Assign session chairs by deadline (mid- to late December). Request help from your sorting team.
3) Review the preliminary program sent by APS to check over. Send to all Session Organizers and Program Cmte for their review.
4) Request a room reservation for the annual DBIO open business meeting. In 2019 the person to ask was Vinaya Sathyasheelappa.
January, Year 2
1) APS sends out notifications in early January with the exact time and date of their presentation. You may start to hear from people who are upset with their time. It is up to you how much to accommodate them – not much at all. You can only swap times with people who explicitly agree to swap times.
2) You may be dealing with residual issues of INVITED speakers canceling or not submitting their abstracts. You can ask the session organizers to deal with this.
3) Remind DBIO membership of early registration deadlines
4) Other peripheral components of the DBIO program get organized: DBIO Happy Hour, DBIO Business Meeting, Networking Events, Lunch with Experts Tables, Workshop/Tutorial
February, Year 2
1) Loose ends from January continue.
2) Start updating this file – you’ll need to prepare your report for the business meeting!
3) Send information to all Session Chairs to introduce their session and advertise DBIO and any special introduction for new fellows/award winners in their session.
March, Year 2
1) Present summary at Tuesday business meeting
2) Check on DBIO Sessions
3) Send survey to session chairs and organizers and ask them about the session: Room Size, Attendance, What worked? What didn’t?
- Soliciting Session
We use Google Forms that people type in and submit for FOCUS or INVITED sessions. The benefit of Google forms is that the spreadsheets can be created automatically. Update and copy Google forms from last year into your own personal google account. In this way the form will be linked to you, and hence anyone who attempts to hit “reply” will generate a mail to you and not to your predecessor. Copy the old forms into the new ones. (You may first need to get permission from whomever owns the old versions.) Then revise to update all dates, names, e-mails that they contain. We also post online Google documents that submitters can download, edit offline till they get it the way they want it, then copy and paste into the Google Forms. Scan through these two documents and update all dates, names, e-mails that they contain. If you made other changes in the Google Forms, update these documents to be consistent.
Proposers should attempt to secure interest/commitment from their invited speakers at the time of submission. Proposers should know there are no guaranteed registration fee waivers/reimbursements for invited speakers.
After deadline, contact all session proposers who made deadline (up to you whether to give a grace period), and thank them (i.e. acknowledge submission). Communicate an expected time to decision.
****MG strongly advises to update this process to streamline the “renewal” of popular Focus sessions from previous year to ensure they continue/evolve and to add a google form to solicit volunteers for these sessions who will work together.
****MG also advises that the rubric the Program Cmte will use to select invited Sessions and approve Focus Sessions be clearly communicated in this email and/or as a clickable link. In addition, you may want to strengthen the language that: (1) we do not have funds to pay for registration and travel to the meeting, (2) we cannot accommodate everyone’s request for placement at the meeting, (3) we favor sessions where the speakers have agreed or tentatively agreed to speak.
****MG also advises that Focus sessions solicit maximum of 2 invited talks and a tab is added to request that the organizers assist with sorting.
****As you see below, I set up a google account to manage this. I’m not sure this was all that useful. Folks emailed me directly and ignore that email. You can use the official DBIO google account.
E-mail sent to DBIO members in mid-May to solicit Session (send via Engage):
The Division of Biological Physics needs your ideas to organize the 2021 March Meeting!
We want to organize a strong program for the 2021 March Meeting, in whatever form the meeting will be. While we all hope to meet in person, the spontaneous organization of online sessions this year demonstrates how much we could gain from the meeting even if it must be held as an online event. The first step, no matter what form the meeting takes, is to collect suggestions for focus sessions and invited sessions.
We have two ways for you to help: focus sessions and invited sessions. The descriptions of these can be found on the forms linked below.
Please use the linked online forms to submit ideas for:
Invited Session submission form
Focus Session submission form
Submissions are due by June 1, 2020.
In order to help you collect your thoughts and ideas, you can use the following Worksheet Word documents. However, please do not submit Word documents and use the above Google Forms only; this will greatly help us with data entry.
Invited Sessions planning Worksheet
Focus Sessions planning Worksheet
Email DBIO.email@example.com with questions/comments.
Thank you for supporting DBIO and contributing to the success of the APS March Meeting!
Chair-elect of APS DBIO, March Meeting/DBIO Program Chair 2020
- Choosing Focus and Invited Sessions
With the program committee, establish rubrics to be used for selecting Focus and Invited Sessions. The primary pressure for deciding Focus Session is the APS deadline for Sorting Categories (mid-June). This is much earlier than the invited session deadline, but it is helpful to decide both at the same time. For instance, declined Invited proposals could become Focus Sessions.
FOCUS SESSION SELECTION
1) We typically accept all reasonable FOCUS sessions. There is no limit on FOCUS sessions, though each must ultimately have enough abstracts to justify a session. Undersubscribed ones will have to get dropped or folded into something:
- Check with DPOLY, GSOFT, and GSNP about overlap in FOCUS sessions.
- FOCUS sessions that are very close should be combined at this point with the consent of the proposers.
- Identify obvious gaps in Focus Sessions; Solicit organizers to fill those gaps.
2) Tell FOCUS proposers you’ve selected them so they should get to work spreading the word (technically the session is contingent on getting enough contributed abstracts).
3) Keep the number of FOCUS Sessions consistent from year to year.
****MG strongly advises to help proposers revise/merge Focus Sessions at this stage to make them stronger. There is no use in dealing with a bunch of underwhelming/duplicative Focus Sessions that have been undersubscribed at the Sorting Stage. I merged 8 Focus sessions together into 4 because of duplicative efforts.
*****In 2020, we had X Focus sessions and they felt balanced. In hindsight, we should have solicited ones on X and X.
INVITED SESSION SELECTION
Remember that you need to reserve one INVITED session for the Delbruck Prize session if it is being awarded.
Declining an INVITED proposal will of course disappoint the proposer. So how do we decide? It's too easy to rely on gut feelings; anyway, each of us has a limited grasp of the entire field and all the people in it. Here is Phil’s personal suggestion, a simple, objective criterion that is defensible: If a proposal meets a basic level of importance, is properly constructed, and the proposed speakers seem to be good enough, we can nevertheless decline it if it's too similar to one we ran last year and/or the proposal didn't make the case for urgency i.e. breaking news. Even if last year it was a boffo session, we need variety; we must try to cover our big field. (The proposer can always float it for the following year, documenting how it was boffo two years previously.)
You will have more INVITED proposals than your quota. But each FOCUS session canalso have 2—3 invited talks. So you can make an unsuccessful INVITED proposer happy if you create a corresponding FOCUS and get at least some of the proposed invited talks as invited talks in the FOCUS session(s). Although you have not yet accepted or rejected any INVITED sessions, think about this possibility. Try to ensure that INVITED proposals you think won’t get selected have corresponding FOCUS session sorting categories for reconfiguration.
Confer with DPOLY, GSOFT, GSNP about invited sessions you have selected. Check for overlap. See if some topics could be co-sponsored. Sharing sponsorship may allow DBIO to have higher impact, but it may be that the Division wants to get more invited sessions that they lead. If they approach you about co-sponsoring a session, see if there is a session of ours they could co-sponsor. An INVITED session cosponsored by N units costs each of them 1/N against its quota. Double-check that this is still the case. Of course it adds another level of complexity since you want to saturate your bound, and now your cost won’t necessarily be an integer.
Delbruck session. We reserve an invited session for the Debruck prize winner. The problem is the winner is being selected and cannot be notified until the Council approves in September. So, you have to leave it hanging for a long time - after the deadline for invited speakers. That is OK.. Delbruck prize winner(s) need to have an INVITED session. The winner is asked who should talk at their session. (S)he and the prize committee organize the session. Again, the prize winner’s talk is deemed “nontechnical.”
***MG didn’t read these notes and ended up inviting two speakers that had been suggested for an unchosen Invited Session to fill out the Delbruck Session in 2021. These were younger people in the field established by the Delbruck winners. Oops.
Invited Talks for New APS Fellows and Thesis Prize Winners: Thesis prize winner(s) and New APS Fellows are invited to give INVITED talks in FOCUS or INVITED Sessions. Typically, it is easiest for it to be a FOCUS session. Find the chair of the the Thesis prize and ask who the winner(s) will be. Note that prize winners should be entered as “nontechnical” talks even though they are technical, so as not to penalize them next year.
***It has been suggested it would be nice to put Fellows into a single session, which didn’t happen in 2021.
****MG forgot to put these talks as non-technical. If this comes up in 2021, argue with APS that a mistake was made for Delbruck, Thesis Prize and Fellow talks.
- Developing Sessions
General Advice: Prepare a master list of all INVITED and FOCUS SESSIONS and invited speakers. This will help you when it’s time to enter this into ScholarOne.
FOCUS Session Development
Inform FOCUS session organizers that their sessions have been selected. Let them know that they will need to advertise for abstracts.
Work with FOCUS organizer to fine tune the descriptions of their session to capture as many abstracts. Deadline is mid-July.
Deciding the # Invited Talks for Focus Sessions: Each Focus Session should have 1-2 Invited talks. You won’t know how many abstracts are directed to each FOCUS session until sorting in the Fall. But you need to finalize the list of FOCUS sessions in July, and then finalize the list of invited speakers in September! How will you know whether there will be one, two, …N FOCUS sessions on topic X? You have got to guess. If you guess too low you end up with fewer invited talks than you could have had. If you guess too high you will end up having to stuff the session with contributed abstracts that don’t really fit. Neither of those is a disaster, but still it’s tricky.
***MG strongly encourages to only solicit 2 invited talks per Focus Session in the Summer and onthe Google Form. It was quite easy to “convert” contributed short talks to invited talks during Sorting and I would have the Session Organizer do this if the session ends up being popular. In 2020, the Sorters did this. At the moment, there are Focus Session Organizers anticipating to be very popular and nominating ~6 invited talks – several got irritated at me when I slimmed down their list.
In 2020, Program Chair offered to consider date restrictions for invited speakers. If you do this, then of course you have to keep track of them. 2021 Program Chair didn’t do this.
Submit the FOCUS session titles and descriptions to APS. For 2020 meeting the deadline was 19 July 2019. See sample below.
INVITED Session Development
Inform the INVITED session organizers that their sessions have or have not been selected.
Then tell successful proposers to get to work. Doublecheck with them that you have the correct list of invited speakers (pulled from their proposal).
For each successful INVITED proposal, confirm all proposed speakers are eligible (for 2019 meeting it was https://www.aps.org/meetings/march/reports/mar19speakers.cfm). A person is ineligible if they gave a “technical” invited talk the preceding year. Non-technical talks would be either prize/award talks or talks intended for a broad audience of general interest (e.g. public policy, education, history, outreach, etc).
APS will vet invited speakers (both kinds) and complain to you if (a) a speaker is ineligible (technical invited talk the previous year), or (b) a speaker has been asked to give two invited talks this year (typically in DBIO and some other unit, so you weren’t aware). You’ll have to resolve those conflicts in cooperation with any other unit involved.
Invited Session Organizers need to confirm their speakers. These speakers will be sent letters from APS directly. Suddenly at this point speakers will start to say “well of course I won’t come unless you pay my registration.” Remind session organizers up front that APS never does this and it’s their job to replace the prima donnas who pull out.
If session organizers report any cancellations, say thanks but don’t let them replace them yet. Instead, at the videoconference you’ll be asked if you have any extra slots in which to tuck a prizewinner. After the videoconference, then you can get back to session organizers about replacing any cancellations.
Notes on Sorting Categories
Contact APS and request a listing of the previous year’s sorting categories with stats about how many abstracts each succeeded in attracting. There are the FOCUS sorting categories, followed by the regular DBIO sorting categories. Sort each of those lists in descending order of popularity. In the FOCUS sessions, each may have several sponsors listed, but the primary “owner” is the first sponsor listed, so separate out the ones whose first sponsor is DBIO.
Update the sorting categories (both Regular sorting categories, and sorting categories specifically dedicated to FOCUS sessions). Your goal is to (a) discard moribund regular sorting categories; (b) add new regular sorting categories; (c) create a list of FOCUS sorting categories; (d) contact fellow program chairs asking them to cosponsor FOCUS sessions; (e) reply to similar requests from them. I chose not to assign any numbers to sorting categories, because APS may renumber them anyway and that would be very confusing. Annotate all those that other units agreed to cosponsor.
***THIS REALLY NEEDS TO BE DONE IN 2021 TO TRIM DOWN SORTING CATEGORIES for 2022 MM
Notes on Co-sponsoring with Other Units
It is common to cosponsor FOCUS sessions with other units: DSOFT, DFD, DCOMP, DMP, DCMP, DPOLY, GSNP, DFED. If an invited session is co-sponsored it ends up counting only 0.5 towards our quota.
FOCUS sessions cost us very little to cosponsor, so also be generous when those people approach you. The “costs” are: (1) abstracts submitted to a cosponsored session may get the credit divided among the cosponsoring units; check with APS if this concerns you), (2) some extra headaches at sorting if other units claim a DBIO-led Sorting Category and move talks around.
- Submitting Sessions into ScholarOne
Enter invited sessions and speaker info to ScholarOne. In 2020 this opened on 8/5. The important deadline is “Deadline for Selections” (it was 20 Sept in 2019). This is when final versions of invited speakers and sessions are due.
There is an irrelevant deadline called “Deadline for Nominations” (it was 23 August in 2019); irrelevant because DBIO solicits your nominations back in May. [Some units (not DBIO) handle the proposals themselves through ScholarOne, where they are called “nominations”; when approved, the unit converts from “nomination” to “selection” status. DBIO doesn’t do that. Instead, we gather and choose proposals by other means, and only enter info into ScholarOne as “selections.”]
Invited speakers for FOCUS Sessions will be entered as Invited Speaker Selections. You may choose to ask the FOCUS Session organizers to enter their invited speakers, to distribute the workload a bit more. Many people will already be in the system, and you will just select them after a simple search. In this case, some of their vital information will already be in ScholarOne from the initial export from our system, and you will not need to enter any additional information. For the ones that are not already included, then you will need to add a new person. To do this, you will need a name, email address, and affiliation. You will not need fax, phone, or anything else.
Invited symposium speakers will be entered as part of the Invited Symposium Selections. Either you can enter these, or you can enlist the help of other DBIO folks to enter them. You need: Speaker name. Speaker email. Speaker affiliation. Talk title. And session chair. This is when you realize that various of these data are missing on the proposals you approved, so get on the organizers early (of course everyone is on vacation in August). There is also a required field called “Justification.” It’s irrelevant, so just enter an x.
If there are date restrictions on an INVITED session, and there always will be some, enter them in the special info box for that session. Hopefully you have kept a log of these as you became aware of them over the last several months.
****MG didn’t do this above step.
It is not required to send a separate speaker list to APS, but they do find that useful. If you do, it is best to send as a spreadsheet with each of these fields as a column: Name/Affiliation/Email Address/Session Type/Session Title. For "Session Type", say if it is "Invited" or "Focus". For "Session Title", if it is an invited session speaker, then include the title of the session. If it is a focus session speaker, then include the title and sorting category number of the focus topic. (MG didn’t do this)
ScholarOne Hints: To submit invited sessions and invited Focus speakers:
Click “submit a nomination” (even though we don’t do nominations this way). On the next page Click “submit a nomination” again.
Log in when requested.
Next page is confusing. You come up in a tab called “Welcome”. You need to select the other tab; at upper left click “Submission” even though it doesn’t look like a link.
Next “Create new submissions”
Tick either “Invited Symposium Selection” or “Invited Speaker Selection,” and get to work.
- Sorting Sessions & Room Scheduling
Abstract sorting of Focus Invited talks and contributed is done online. Identify your sorting team (in 2020 it was 4 members of Program Cmte) Instruct your sorting team (Appendix below shows the two instruction letters I sent in 2019.) Give them a deadline earlier than the hard deadline, because you’ll need a couple of days after they are done to rearrange globally.
***In 2020, MG had 4 members of ExComm/Program Cmte help with Sorting and assigned them Sorting Categories. It worked well. I liked not coordinating with too many people. However, I did get a small number of complaints from Focus Session Organizers about their session organization. I would encourage Focus Session Organizers to be more involved in Sorting.
1) APS runs training sessions on Sorting. Make sure to attend these.
2) Your sorters can only see and touch abstracts in their assigned sorting categories. After they “session”
an abstract (create a session and put abstracts there), then you’ll be able to see it inside that session (if your sorter has correctly chosen DBIO as its “topic”). If they think something is inappropriately classified, they can hand it off to another category. The training explains how. This is a reason to not get granular on sorting assignments.
3) You can see every unassigned talk that has a DBIO sorting category. But other units will dump an abstract they don’t want into the Exchange Bin, with a comment proposing what unit they think should pick it up. This can be very useful to fill out underfull sessions, so scan the EB repeatedly during this process.
4) You may find it useful to export information to Excel: In session builder, left pane, “Edit” column, tick the box at the top next to column title “Edit.” This selects all sessions. Now click “Export to Excel.” This gives you a beautiful local spreadsheet with everything that has been sessioned so far.
5) The major headache: After your sorting team are done, your job is to create a lot of nearly- full sessions, to make efficient use of limited room space. You may dismantle a nearly-empty session, place its talks elsewhere, and if necessary change the name of the target session(s) to reflect what’s actually there now. Keep in mind if you dismantle a focus session you must place its invited talks in some other focus session (not in an ordinary session). Or you may merge two ordinary sessions. If you merge two FOCUS sessions, be mindful of the limitation that they should not have >2 invited talks, and absolutely must not have >3. Or you may fill up an underfull session with (thematically appropriate) talks you got from the EB or from other sessions.
6) The other major headache: Incredibly, APS doesn’t seem to have any hard deadline for invited abstracts. This means that for every FOCUS you and your sorters must manually keep track of what abstracts are still missing, trust those speakers not to pull out, and allocate 36 minutes for each one. I started personally nagging missing speakers during this process, in an attempt to minimize missing abstracts, but some of them will still wait forever. I also asked them to at least affirm to me that they did plan to speak, even if they were too busy to get an abstract in.
7) Another medium headache: Sometimes ScholarOne listed a talk’s duration as 0 minutes. Then it doesn’t complain if you put too many talks in a session, because one or more are not taking up any minutes. Then in January APS tells you to rearrange the session because it’s overtime. Check for 0-minute talks now to avert this hassle later.
8) The other, other major, major headache: Inevitably there will be abstracts that people submit but that you cannot find in the system. One common cause for this is mentioned above: They submitted directly instead of using the link in their official invitation e-mail. For every missing expected abstract, you don’t know if it’s in the system somewhere for this reason, or if the speaker just hasn’t submitted yet. In 2019 I wrote to each one saying, “I apologize in case you have already submitted, but if that’s the case please forward to me your acknowledgement e-mail.” Then I asked APS to chase it down with that helpful info.
12. Double check the sorted sessions.
• Check that each session is as filled as possible.
• Check that every talk you think is invited really is listed as such and hence budgeted for 36 min (and that the others really are not listed as invited).
• Check that the invited speakers of a FOCUS session are spaced so that people can go between sessions (slot 1, 4, 7, 10). Check that they are in the sequence suggested by the organizers.
Sample instructions sent to sorters in 2019 (first of two):
Your deadline is XX November. If you can't commit to this, please let me know asap. I recommend to you the tutorial webinars on [XX]. The ScholarOne software is unintuitive, so the webinars are essential if you haven't used it before or even just feel rusty (like me).
Roughly our job is as follows. Members have submitted abstracts and have already selected a "sorting category" for each one (in ScholarOne jargon this is called "sub-category"). Each of us has been assigned all the abstracts from about 5 of these sub-categories. We are going to create sessions with titles similar to (or exactly like) those of the corresponding sub-categories and assign abstracts to each session until it is full. A session can be duplicated as many times as needed to accommodate all the abstracts it has attracted.
Next your focus sessions: There is a tricky aspect here. Some invited talk abstracts may not be in the system yet; however, you must nevertheless leave room for those talks. Consult the attached spreadsheet to see what invited talks to expect for your assigned sub-categories. This is my personal list, so it may contain errors; if you spot anything suspicious please contact me asap. Don't try to create placeholders for missing invited abstracts; just leave room in your sessions and make a note to yourself. When you are all done, please share those notes with me.
It may be necessary to reassign some talks from ordinary contributed sessions into a close-enough focus session in order to grow the latter to justify duplicating it enough times to accommodate its invited talks. A focus session with 1 invited talk can have max 12 contributed talks. A focus session with 2 invited talks is "normal" and can have max 9 contributed talks. It's not officially allowed, but a focus session with 3 invited talks is possible and can have max 6 contributed talks.
OK. Now you have done the first cut and can go back and make further adjustments. Each session needs a unique name, which you achieved just by adding a roman numeral ("Wiffnium I, Wiffnium II,...). If you like, you can now swap abstracts into and out of sessions to give individual sessions their own coherent subtheme (and adjust the title: "Wiffnium 1: In vitro"; "Wiffnium 2: In vivo") and so on. Then you can also use judgement to reorder the talks within each session in a logical flow. Ideally we want every session to be completely full, in order to make optimal use of the available rooms. For this purpose, we can override the submitter's suggested sub-category if that seems justified and will help to fill out a session (and empty out another incomplete one). Or you may simply not agree with the submitter's suggestion, and wish to override it. This is straightforward if you "own" the session to which you think the talk belongs: simply drag the talk into the unassigned pool, then drag it into the appropriate session. If someone else "owns" it, the webinar will explain how to return it to the "exchange bin" of unassigned abstracts that others can see and grab. When you do this, you have the opportunity to re-categorize (change the sub-category) and add a memo. Then notify the owner of the relevant sorting category to look for it. The attachment to this mail gives a list of all sorters, including you, and what sub-categories have been assigned to each of you.
Sometimes APS may assign you an abstract that's not DBIO at all. Put it back in the exchange bin, but also notify me so I can notify the right division's program chair.
Sample instructions sent to sorters (second of two):
I would like to ask that you try to finish online sorting by XX, so that I can spend YY going over things and making adjustments. If you have already finished, or when you finish, please let me know that, so that I can start looking over things.
Please scan the Exchange Bin to see if there are any abstracts there that could fit one of your sessions.
Finally, may I ask that you doublecheck your work. Are invited focus session talks properly labeled as such (36 min vs 12 for oral contributed)? And so on.
Many thanks for your help.
Room Assignments for Sessions
Rooms hold certain numbers of people. So estimate, based on numbers of submitted abstracts, which sessions need big rooms and which need smaller rooms. Your sorting team should have done this already and entered it in the info window of each session they created. Make sure you have done this if they haven’t.
Prior to the in-person meeting
Walk in knowing exactly how many contributed and FOCUS sessions you have constructed and check it against what APS tells you. When we are told how many sessions each room will hold throughout the week (e.g. 14 sessions for each room in 2019 and 2020), divide to find how many rooms DBIO will need and again check it against what APS tells you. Similarly, know how many invited sessions you have and check against APS.
When we are told how many sessions each room will hold throughout the week (e.g. 14 sessions for each room in 2019), divide to find how many rooms DBIO will need.
Coordinate with DSOFT, GSNP, DFD, etc to minimize overlap and identify proximal rooms. But, claim DBIO's quota of rooms and seize good rooms (e.g. physically proximate) within the overall allocation (i.e. before GSOFT et al seize them).
APS will tell you capacity of each room, so get a mix of small and big.
Use the information on the number of abstracts submitted for the session (s) to decide on which rooms should be big or small. Few abstracts (1 session) should be a smaller room.
At the sorting meeting
APS will already have assigned rooms for Invited sessions, but check immediately to see if they are big enough. Most attending members will be at the Delbruck symposium, and other topics may be extra hot. Swap rooms is possible to resolve problems. Try not to make a swap that changes a date, however.
You will be assigned enough rooms for your FOCUS and contributed sessions, but this is only a starting point. You get to swap with other units (if they agree); this is the main point of the in-person meeting. Your goal is to get physically contiguous rooms to avoid DBIO being balkanized. Study the maps to understand the convention center as a 3D structure. APS will tell you capacity of each room; get a mix of small and big.
Remember that lots of people will go to the Kavli session (Weds afternoon in 2020), yet you must place some sessions at those times, so think about which ones have minimal intellectual overlap.
Try also to avoid having any sessions that collide with the poster session (Weds 11:15 session in 2020). Work with DPOLY, GSOFT, GSNP if necessary.
Place stickynotes saying DBIO on the big board at your initially assigned times and places, then rearrange as you make trades. You need to have the next year’s program chair there to see the process, check your work, and to help place on the board.
Now assign a specific session name to each stickynote and write it on the note. Confirm that you have accounted for all date restrictions that you have logged.
After all the horsetrading has settled down, check that all multipart sessions “Wiffnium I, Wiffnium II, …” have roman numerals that are in ascending order over time. Rename sessions as needed to achieve this.
Finally, each grid position on the board has coordinates such as A07, where the letter encodes date/time and the number encodes which room (rooms also have hard room numbers within the convention center, with a conversion table). Write this grid position on the sticky note, so your work will be preserved in case it falls off the board. Also enter this grid position in ScholarOne as instructed by staff. Take photos of the board also for safety.
I sat with DPOLY, GSNP, and GSOFT. We all sorted our stickies at our tables first, were supposed to look for overlaps in the sessions, and decide one what sessions should go what days and times to not overlap. In 2020, DBIO was able to operate pretty independently of these units because of the larger number of sessions. This has not happened in the past.
Right after sorting, while you are still there, but everything is on the board I would:
○ Take a picture of the board to figure out where all the DBIO, DPOLY, GSOFT, and GSNP sessions are (I couldn’t do this because GSNP was so far behind)
○ Check again for conflicts.
Before things were due to APS, I went through all of them and had to merge under-filled sessions. APS has limited rooms for us (although we should ask for 3 that seat 150 and 1 that seats 75 - more on that later), so they need filled sessions - we cannot have sessions missing 2 or 3 talks slots at the end. (Actually, if you want to do that, I suggest we do what Jeff Gore suggested and put a half time pause for people to stretch, get coffee, and go to the bathroom instead of putting all the missing ones at the end. I am not sure if that is Kosher with APS).
After this meeting, you will no longer have access to ScholarOne; additional tweaks must be done by overworked APS staff, so try hard to get it all done at the meeting. Keep in mind that APS reserves the right to change absolutely anything about your beautiful scheme (e.g. to resolve other people’s mess-ups). Of course, most likely they won’t change any particular thing. But if you are asked by anxious session organizers or speakers for the precise day/time of their session, you may tell them after the meeting but you must stress it is still tentative until APS publishes the program.
After the Sorting Meeting:
Shortly after the meeting, APS will send out the preliminary program for you to check. Send to all Session Organizers for final review. This is also a time for you to find all tardy (missing) invited abstracts and nag the speakers yet again. It is also a time to find all sessions that still don’t have chairs and rectify. If APS moved any session to a different time from what you planned, double check that they didn’t run afoul of a speaker’s date restrictions. The photos you took of the board at the in-person meeting will come in handy here to identify whether any session was moved. Any corrections you wish to make must come in before the program goes public (they were due 2 Jan in 2019).
Also at this time request a room reservation for the annual DBIO open business meeting. In 2019/20 the person to ask was Vinaya Sathyasheelappa.
● Send an email to all the session organizers and have them check their sessions (FOCUS and INVITED). This is a good time to make changes to the presenter order. People might want to change when their session is. That will be a pain, but much less painful than in February.
● If people want to change the position for a reasonable and legitimate reason, you will need to check with both and double check with the DPOLY, GSNP, and GSOFT people if there are conflicts or co-orgnizations with them. Most of the time no one cares at this point.
● Also have them check the session chairs or offer suggestions of other possible chairs, if the ones there are not appropriate or overlapping. Suggestions of postdocs to serve as chairs are welcome and good for the postdocs, but we don’t always know who those people are.
Session Chairs: Now assign session chairs by deadline (6 Dec in 2019). This may (hopefully) was already done by your sorters. Think in advance about whom to choose. Consult the proposals for focus and invited sessions for whom they suggested and get those people to confirm, or replace them with input from the organizers. Use your own judgement for contributed sessions.
In 2020, MG requested the possibility of session co-chairs and the APS staff worked it out. In the past, only 1 chair was possible. Get this straight with APS.
- Other Random Crap
Inform the Session chairs who have award winners/new fellows in their sessions (dissertation awards and travel awards) that the person is an award winner. Ask for it to be mentioned in the introduction of the person.
Send a Follow Up Survey to Session Chairs
Finally, compile some statistics about the meeting, e.g.: How many sessions? How many female invited speakers? Session organizers? Session chairs? You’ll want to present this at the excomm meeting in March.
Make sure the business meeting room is big enough. Ask for room changes, if it doesn’t seat 200. Remove some chairs, so people can stand near the food (we accidentally had that this year, and it was a good thing). Vernita does the food. Jenny gets the room.
Send email to chairs of March Meeting to follow up to ask about room capacity and needs for next year.
Organize Networking Events and “Meet the Speaker” Tables.
Financial Incentives for Invited Speakers:
Many invited speakers just assume that their status entitles them to have conference registration waived. APS policy is that they never do this for anybody (except Kavli symposium). However, (i) APS allows units to do whatever they like with any surplus funds. Historically (prior to 2020) DBIO has set aside around $6K each year for around six bourses of $1000 each, to cover registration and partially offset travel expenses. The delicate point is, who gets these. Our unannounced policy is we can support first-time meeting attendees giving invited talks, especially “biologists,” i.e. as a means to diversify and to bring to our members some outside voices. And (ii) the sky’s the limit if you can find an external sponsor for a particular session, e.g. an instrument making firm for a microscopy session. Take whatever you can get from them.
In short: First consult the treasurer to see how many bourses we can offer this year. Wait until people request support, then apply the criterion and hope they are few enough to handle them all.
****In 2020, we did not offer any financial incentives for Invited Speakers. It was clear that several session organizers did not communicate this clearly. In one case, a session organizer assumed these waivers would come. In others, I know session organizers who paid for speakers themselves. This policy should be spelled out much more clearly early on. Personally, I’m not in favor of us spending our limited resources on senior speakers who may come once to the MM but not help build the community.
****We should encourage session organizers to seek external sources of support and/or seek these ourselves from contacting foundations and/or existing centers (e.g. NSF POLS centers). A very small amount of money could make a big difference here.