Now that we have been notified that the International Congress of Nematology has been postponed (again!) to 2022, the Society of Nematologists would like to invite our members and colleagues to participate in a Virtual Meeting in December 2020. Because arrangements for our in-person annual meeting in Gulf Shores, Alabama are already underway (for Sept 2021), we have to keep the submission window fairly short; but we did not want to let 2020 slip by without giving the nematology community an opportunity to present their current work in an online format at a time when, let’s face it, we’re all a little starved for some engagement over our favorite nematodes! Perhaps some of you have an abstract intended for ICN that you can still use in 2020. Our intent is not to compete with other opportunities out there, but our offer meets your needs, read on!
Our business office manager, Jacki Beacham, has been working hard with Wild Apricot and our new website designer to get our new SON page ready to launch this event. We are crossing fingers and toes, but hope that you will find that engaging with the new site for meeting registration and membership renewals will be a smoother experience going forward.
In the past several months, we’ve watched a lot of online conferences and researched an array of possible virtual meeting formats. For reasons of time, cost, and manpower, here is the plan:
Along with some featured speakers, the majority of presentations will be in a poster format. We will also be publishing abstracts, which is especially important for our students and postdocs.
While you may have seen other conferences go online for free this year, the SON will not be doing that for a number of reasons. First, we need to cover the cost of abstract publication in the Journal of Nematology (JON). There are editing and formatting costs associated with any publication, and free is not a sustainable option considering that the JON will be phasing in fees for Open Access publication in 2021. Second, the SON gets a majority of its yearly operating expenses from meeting registration fees. We expected not to have 2020 revenue, due to the International Congress scheduled earlier this year. Foregoing two years of revenue in a row, let alone three, would put the society into a bad financial position, which we cannot do. We don’t expect to recoup what we would from a normal in-person meeting, but a modest fee is the best compromise. Third, emerging best practices to maintain the sustainability of a small organization such as SON in the face of unprecedented circumstances recommends a fee to recognize the value of the conference content being presented. And lastly, there are security reasons for limiting access to registrants who have put forth some financial skin in the game. With all that said, we do acknowledge that the cost may be out of reach for some. The SON has always been committed to promoting the science of nematology in developing nations, and we will continue to do so through the Cobb Foundation and international partnerships. However, this is a time when we have to be realistic stewards of SON's financial resources. For that reason, this time, there will be a flat fee structure for all participants and no waivers.
The following information and links will lay out the steps involved, the online tools needed, and how to register and pay.
If I have learned one thing from 2020 it is to keep an open mind, whether that means using new online tools for sharing our work, to ‘what is a workday?’, to redefining how the Society of Nematologists operates. As with all things this year, ‘we are all in this together.’
Until we can meet again face to face, I invite you to join in this online experience.
President, Society of Nematologists