Call for proposals: Workshops enhance the #DiscoverBMB experience
The school year peeks over the horizon, and not long after that we’ll hit the end-of-year holiday rush. Before you know it, our calendars turn to 2024, at which point we at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology become laser-focused on the final touches for what will surely be an impactful annual meeting March 23–26 in San Antonio.
Before we get to those final touches, though, we are — and have been for quite some time — full steam ahead with program planning. The meeting organizers and thematic session chairs already have the scientific content covered.
But there’s more. Did you know that you, as an ASBMB member, also have an opportunity to shape the program and run sessions? That’s right, it’s our annual call for workshop proposals. Regular, industry and early-career members are eligible to submit.
Cutting-edge science and inspiring speakers in San Antonio
The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual meeting, Discover BMB, will be held in March in San Antonio. See the scientific symposia themes and invited speakers.
Lessons learned in Seattle
#DiscoverBMB 2023 attendees may have noticed that the schedule and the feel was a bit different from other meetings in recent memory. By moving away from Experimental Biology to host our own annual meeting, the ASBMB was able to reimagine how this meeting serves the needs of our community.
Many of these changes were successful, but rarely is an experiment flawless on the first try. What can we learn from the 2023 program to enhance what we do in 2024? Here are a few observations from our Seattle experience.
Can we get some lunch, please? Workshops were held during the lunch hour in Seattle. While this opened up late afternoons for poster sessions and unstructured networking time, it posed a difficult question for attendees: When can I eat without feeling like I’m missing something?
So many programs, so little time. We heard this frequently and across the entire program, not just the workshops. National meetings often pack as much as possible into a tight schedule, and ours was no different. That said, a packed schedule could mean not just sprinting from room to room but also a higher likelihood that concurrent sessions have overlapping target audiences.
Know your audience. Our call for proposals last year asked members to think broadly and creatively about workshop submissions, as long as submissions were aligned with our mission. We weren’t sure what we might receive. Turns out, strictly by audience numbers, some topics were hits, and others were not so much. The two bullets above contributed to these numbers (don’t you love trying to make sense of messy data?), but a third element likely played a part as well: Just who are our meeting attendees in general, and who among these attendees are likely to participate in workshops?
Want to lead a scientific interest group?
Discover BMB 2024 will feature 12 interest group events intended to gather attendees with similar interests so that they can share their recent findings, exchange ideas and establish productive connections. The #DiscoverBMB organizers are accepting proposals for interest groups on the following topics through Sept. 12. Learn more.
Small tweaks, not a total overhaul
Looking ahead to San Antonio, we’ve made a few changes to the program schedule to address the challenges above, and the workshop proposal form reflects these changes.
We’ve moved workshops out of the midday hour to open up space in the schedule for a lunch break. Instead, workshops will be split between the morning and afternoon. We have reduced the total number of workshops as well, hoping to avoid some of the inevitable scheduling conflicts.
Finally, to help guide submissions and subsequent review, we’ve focused the workshop proposal form on specific categories:
- diversity, equity, access and inclusion
- BMB educational tools, resources and programs
- career skills
These categories recognize both the types of topics we saw frequently last year and the topics that drew crowds to the 2023 workshops. We also included an “other” category, since some workshop topics don’t neatly fit into one of these three categories. All ideas are welcome, and we’ll do our best to balance the interests of attendees and submitters to provide a wide-ranging suite of workshops that complement the scientific sessions.
Proposal reviewers will have tough decisions to make in the coming months, but now it’s in your hands. Start thinking about what you want to see on the schedule next spring in San Antonio, and submit your workshop proposals by Sept. 12. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
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Ann Stock has a conversation with Susan Baserga, chair and co-founder of the ASBMB’s youngest committee.