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By David Barnstone
Note: After this issue went to press, the organizers of the Annual Leadership Meeting decided to make it a completely virtual event. APS meeting organizers are carefully monitoring conditions for holding the March, and April meetings in-person with virtual components.
This fall the APS Divisions of Plasma Physics (DPP) and Fluid Dynamics (DFD) welcomed thousands of attendees to the Society’s first in-person meetings in more than two years. The meetings were a success on many fronts: record attendance, stimulating scientific exchange, and ample opportunities to connect with colleagues and friends in real life. Perhaps most importantly, the health and safety measures put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 meant the events were held without incident.
“It was a pleasure to see so many of our members in Pittsburgh and Phoenix,” says APS Director of Meetings Hunter Clemens. “The success of the DPP and DFD meetings show that we can safely return to in-person events by following evidence-based, public health guidance.”
All attendees were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, obtain a negative test result prior to participating in the meetings, and complete a daily attestation stating that they were not experiencing symptoms. These requirements, as well as the decisions to hold in-person events, were made in consultation with epidemiologists, explains APS Chief Financial Officer Jane Hopkins Gould.
“APS has been working closely with the scientific consulting firm Cardno ChemRisk, carefully planning for these meetings since the summer,” says Gould. “Together we have been monitoring federal, state and local guidance and key metrics—case counts, of course, but also the positivity rate and the availability of hospital beds in the local community—and use that information to inform a calculated approach to risk assessment.”
Attendees at the 74th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics in Phoenix, Arizona.
The organizers of the Society’s most anticipated events of the new year—the Annual Leadership, March, and April Meetings—are now keeping a close eye on the Omicron variant and continuing to collaborate with Cardno ChemRisk. Even as APS returns to in-person meetings, Clemens says he and his team are making sure the many benefits of virtual gatherings aren’t lost.
“The APS Council recently approved a recommendation by the Committee on Scientific Meetings that all APS scientific meetings include a virtual component,” says Clemens. “This recommendation is consistent with APS’s core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Hybrid meetings are more accessible to APS members all over the world in varying personal situations, from parents of small children to people with disabilities. All are welcome.”
The online component also allows attendees to reduce their personal carbon footprint by foregoing travel without sacrificing their participation in the meeting.
“By easing the pressure to attend meetings in-person and taking other measures to improve the sustainability of our meetings, like reducing printed materials and using energy efficient buildings, we can all do our part to minimize the environmental impact of APS meetings and make it easier for more people to participate, even those who cannot travel,” says Clemens.
The author is APS Head of Public Relations.
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Staff Science Writer: Leah Poffenberger
Contributing Correspondents: Sophia Chen, Alaina G. Levine