Wednesday, November 18, 2020

What are three virtual ACS National Meetings going to do to early careers?

I'm sure you got this message from ACS' CEO via e-mail, or maybe you didn't: 
I am reaching out today to share the news that we will hold our spring 2021 ACS meeting entirely virtually April 5-16, 2021. Meeting virtually for ACS Spring 2021 will enable the meaningful sharing of scientific information, while ensuring everyone’s safety. 

Originally planned as an in-person event in San Antonio, TX, in March 2021, the meeting was transitioned to a virtual event as a result of the rapidly rising number of COVID-19 cases locally, nationally, and globally, and predictions for worsening conditions throughout the winter season. The virtual format was chosen out of concern for the health and safety of our members, meeting attendees, staff and residents of San Antonio.

We are committed to ensuring that the virtual meeting will give participants the most robust and rich experience possible. We have lengthened the footprint of the meeting to allow for a maximum amount of science to be shared with the widest possible audience. The program will include 10 weekdays of live sessions followed by two weeks of on demand content, at the presenters’ discretion.

The window for abstract submissions will open on December 16, 2020, and close on January 18, 2021. Abstracts questions can be directed to  Registration will open in January for the virtual meeting with fees set at $99 for ACS members, $149 for non-members, and $29 for students. Unemployed member and 50-year emeritus members will be able to attend at no cost.

I think this is a pretty logical move - even with vaccines, it's hard to imagine that people would be meeting in March 2021. Friend of the blog Harry Elston had a good question - what will three consecutive virtual meetings do to early career researchers in chemistry? 

I'll be honest and say that I don't know. In discussions of the National Meeting, there is always a lot of chatter about how these venues aren't nearly as good as smaller meetings, such as Gordon Conferences. I broadly agree. At the same time, I think there is genuine value in the breadth of the meeting, and also far more opportunity for serendipitous meetings of old friends and colleagues in other subfields, and new ones as well. The virtual meetings offer some good points: the price is much, much lower (especially with the lack of travel) and that offers an opportunity for students of all institutions to participate. 

I think it's unlikely that there will be a measurable impact to the careers of students who were not able to stand awkwardly in front of their Sci-Mix posters for 3 hours, and participated virtually instead. Still, for those of us who are in the middle of our careers, it bears some amount of consideration and watching. 

1 comment:

  1. Part of my mulling with the question didn't include the awkward standing in front of posters at SciMix, but more of the "Hey, let me introduce (5th year/newly minted Ph.D., PostDoc) to this person I know in charge of..." conversations that are not occurring. Or maybe they are (Zoom/Teams/GoToMeeting/etc.)? I don't know.

    There are a lot of conversations outside and after hours at ACS meetings that spontaneously occur during 2x5-day meetings that lead to the next conversation about a job/position/opportunity.

    I concur with Chemjobber that the impact is probably not measurable in terms of a statistic, but if you're the one that lands the opportunity, it's 100%.


looks like Blogger doesn't work with anonymous comments from Chrome browsers at the moment - works in Microsoft Edge, or from Chrome with a Blogger account - sorry! CJ 3/21/20