Those who have never experienced the Fall Meeting Program Committee meetings cannot begin to understand what it means to organize the scientific content of the premier meeting in our field. Those attending the meeting in San Francisco in December expect a scientific program that fulfills their personal expectations, both scientifically and socially. Sometimes they complain because of the scheduling, the overlaps of the sessions…and maybe the rain. Networking is indeed an important reason for attending AGU Fall Meeting, but, nevertheless, the diversity and quality of the program are and remain the instrumental reasons to attend and to participate.
Therefore proposing the best program is indeed a true but great challenge that requires some insights. Just think about a total of 1801 sessions to organize through a one-week meeting corresponding to 23,095 submitted abstracts! Reading those numbers makes you a bit overwhelmed but they represent the challenge, and also the interest, that the program committee has to face.
Although the spring meeting of the Program Committee defines the meeting’s skeleton by selecting the session proposals submitted to the different section and focus group sub-programs, the bulk of the work occurs in fall, when the Program Committee gathers for 3 days to finalize the scientific content of the program. All members should experience the Fall Program Committee meeting, as watching a huge gathering of 55 scientists, 8 student volunteers, and 9 AGU staff completely committed to organizing and scheduling the scientific program is always extremely impressive. There is no way for a Fall Meeting attendee to appreciate how much work is represented by the scientific program–from the conveners’ work setting up the sessions to the section and focus group representatives organizing their sub-programs in coordination and collaboration with other groups to prevent overlaps. Just witnessing the meeting in December doesn’t make apparent the tremendous achievement of the highly dedicated AGU staff in supporting the Program Committee to prepare and organize the scientific program. AGU staff checks and double checks the program at various stages of the scheduling process to ensure excellence. Such dedication from both sides, Program Committee and AGU staff, is worth mentioning here, and AGU attendees should be aware of the tremendous efforts and energy expended to create the most successful meeting in December.
Whatever the motivation to come to San Francisco in December, it could or can be easy to just consider one’s own field or topic, and therefore be highly critical, even if everybody knows that perfection does not exist. As the Fall Meeting program chair, I feel responsible for all troubles that the meeting attendees could face. I remain, nevertheless, extremely proud of my fellow Program Committee members and of the AGU staff from the Meetings Department who deserve the highest respect and encouragement for their strong dedication. It is the union of committed staff and volunteers, working toward the common goal of the best possible scientific program, which guarantees a successful result.
Je vous donne donc rendez-vous à San Francisco, en Décembre prochain, pour une nouvelle et excitante expérience, tant scientifique que sociale, au prochain AGU Fall Meeting.
Denis-Didier Rousseau, AGU Fall Meeting Program Chair