July 17, 2019

Southern Section 2020 Symposia Suggestions


Submit your Southern Section 2020 Symposia Suggestions - Closes August 2, 2019 at 3:00 PM CT.

Southern Section members are invited to submit their ideas for symposia for the 2020 Southern Section Meeting. Submitting symposia ideas provides membership with the opportunity to steer the direction of the meetings and ensures that the meeting program is timely and of interest. Visit the online submission form to submit your symposia suggestions today.

As we kick off the programming for the 2020 meeting, here is a message from Dr. Paul Beck on the 2019 Southern Section Meeting Survey.

Dear Members,

We had a highly successful Southern Section ASAS meeting back in January! This is, in a large part, due to the highly effective leadership of Dr. Jeff Carroll and the extremely hard work of the ASAS staff. At the meeting, we had 301 registered and 197 abstracts presented. The scientific merit of the abstracts was outstanding and Southern Section continues to grow in both attendance and reputation as a quality meeting since we have started hosting our own meeting.

There were several new features at our meeting in 2018 that continued into the 2019 meeting. In 2018, we launched the new student competition format utilizing the 3MT format and also incorporating the student competitors into the standard scientific sessions. We added student co-moderators to each session as well. With the addition of the graduate student co-moderators and combining the awards ceremony and student mixer, we have increased the networking options within the meeting.

In order to see how the membership of our organization feels about these new features and the meetings in general, we sent a survey out to those that attended the meeting. We had 82 respondents of the 301 sent out (27% response rate). Of these, 27% were new members to SSASAS, 37% have been members <5 years, 36% % have been members over 6 years. There were 32% of respondents that were students. This shows that most of those that responded are students or very early career, which affirms our student centric focus. There were no respondents that indicated they were independent consultants, which may be a factor of our geographic region, but may indicate we are not being effective in reaching this audience or supplying educational opportunities to suit their needs.

The abstract submission and review process was easy and useful and most abstracts (93%) were placed in the correct session. The few that were not correctly placed were student contest submissions. Since we have gone to the 3 Minute Thesis type contest format and the student abstracts are also presented in the regular scientific sessions, there has been no way to indicate which scientific session is desired, this oversight will be corrected in future submission forms.

The use of graduate student co-chairs in scientific sessions was overwhelmingly viewed positively (97% agreed or strongly agreed that is worked well and was positive for the students). There was some concern that the roles of the graduate students were not consistent at sessions. We will try to communicate to session chairs how to effectively utilize graduate co-chairs in the future. Also, mentioned was the perception that there was some favoritism in selection of graduate students for co-chairing sessions. The Executive Committee has decided to have an online form for applying for the graduate student co-chairs and include the Graduate Student Directors to assign co-chairs to sessions.

The new App for the Meeting is starting to gain popularity, 88% of those attending the meeting used the app. The responders (remember > 50% are less than 35) found the app to be easy to use and browse to find the desired presentations and abstracts, and there were multiple positive comments about the App. There were some issues about a ‘bug’ in the authorship of abstracts on the app, this has already been corrected and should not be an issue in the future.

The three-minute thesis (3MT) student competitions have been very popular. This allows us to have many more in the competition than we were in the past and allows the students to present their data at the regular scientific sessions. This has improved the quality of the science in the regular sessions, and gives students and faculty more opportunities to network. This change has resulted in some ‘switching costs’ and the Executive Committee will strive to continue to communicate the competition rules and standards with clarity.

Additional feedback in the survey included:

“Meeting room size was not always large enough” – We have a goal of >85% success in matching room size to audience, not always easy to get this done, but we try to get it right. This is also a sign of a vibrant and well attended meeting, with topics that we find interesting…which is a good thing.

“Difficult login and password issues…” - The ASAS staff has already corrected this deficiency.

“Abstract availability ahead of the meeting…” – The abstracts are available on the App 5 weeks before the meeting. We will do a better job advertising how to access these ahead of the meeting.

Overall, we had an excellent meeting in OKC. We will use this feedback to ensure we are doing our best to continue offering excellent meetings and networking opportunities for the membership of the SSASAS. Thank you to those that took the time to answer the survey and I am excited to see everyone at Southern Section ASAS meetings in Chattanooga on January 25 to 28 next year!

Paul Beck
Southern Section President

Look for 2020 abstract submission and registration details in late-August.