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AAS Topical Conference Series
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Introduction

The AAS is pleased to announce the formation of the AAS Topical Conference Series (AASTCS, pronounced "aztecs").  

The goal of the AASTCS is to organize between three and five topical conferences of significant interest to the astronomical community each year through a competitive proposal process. The AAS Topical Conference Series supports the mission of the AAS to enhance and share humanity’s understanding of the universe and will be an important part of the Society's activities in coming years.

The AAS therefore seeks proposals for cutting-edge topical meetings representing frontier research in astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, heliophysics or related scientific areas.  Details are provided below.

Deadlines

For Topical Conferences held in 2016, proposals are due by 1 December 2014 in the form of a PDF file sent to aastcs@aas.org. Late proposals for summer 2014 will be considered on an individual basis. AASTCS will not be held in 2015 due to the AAS involvement in the General Assembly of the International Astrononomy Union.

Selections for 2016 will be made by the AAS vice-presidents by 1 July 2015 and logistical planning will begin shortly thereafter.  We anticipate a similar schedule for future years.

Details

  • Proposals from all areas of the astronomical sciences are welcome. The AAS vice-presidents will identify the most scientifically interesting and currently relevant meetings proposed and select three as AAS Topical Conferences for 2016.

  • The AAS Executive Office will organize all logistical and financial aspects of the meeting. Meeting organizers have great flexibility in designing the scientific program but must follow the general meeting policies of the Society, including that the distribution of invited speakers represent the broad demographics of the Society membership.

  • There is significant advantage to conference proposers through the expert AAS meeting organization team. Proposers do not need to concern themselves with contracts, logistical details, or meeting location selection. The AAS handles all of these details in addition to meeting registration, web promotion, and all other organizational details. Proposers need only arrange for the scientific content of their conference. The AAS carries the full financial risk for the meetings and therefore decides on the registration fees and other costs based on the proposer’s requirements. If the proposer can help identify external funding, either through grants or sponsorship, registration fees can be proportionately reduced.

  • The AASTCS differs from the “Meeting-in-a-Meeting” format provided at AAS summer meetings in several ways. First, the meeting will be held alone, providing a highly concentrated experience for attendees as opposed to a topical session contained within a regular AAS meeting. Additionally, the length of the meeting is longer (AASTCS meetings are expected to be 4 or 5 days in length), again, providing ample time for enhanced interaction and discussion. Also, the format is completely open (within the physical constraints of the meeting venue), allowing creative use of the time to enhance the scientific impact of the meeting. Finally, since the AAS is selecting only a limited number of meetings in a competitive process, there will be a certain level of prestige associated with the selected meetings.

  • AASTCS will follow a four- or five-day schedule, with an opportunity for afternoons of free time for discussion or local recreation at the discretion of the organizers. Evening sessions may also be arranged. The AAS is constrained contractually to provide a more-or-less uniform filling of hotel rooms during the period for the AASTCS meetings, but there is some flexibility for start and end dates.

  • Wireless Internet will be provided for the conferences at no additional charge to participants either using the infrastructure provided by the meeting facility or using AAS provided infrastructure.

  • Generally, the meeting format will be one large session room with the possibility of smaller breakout rooms for more focused discussion. Posters can be accommodated at the discretion of the meeting proposers.

  • The AAS will produce and maintain a meeting website with detailed information on the scientific content of the meeting provided by the meeting proposers along with logistical information, full registration services, abstract submission and other appropriate content.

  • Attendance at AASTCS meetings is open to all; there is no requirement to be an AAS member.

  • Proposers may suggest possible meeting locations for their conference. The AAS will review the proposed meeting location for logistical issues and may recommend a change in the location to enable a successful conference. The Society retains the right to select the actual location for the conference.

  • Organizers should not undertake any negotiations with possible meeting venues prior to or after proposing. The AAS will handle all contractual issues and negotiations.

  • The AAS is currently willing to organize AASTCS conferences only in the US and its nearby territory, Puerto Rico. We cannot support meetings in foreign locations, including Canada, at this time.

Key Elements of an AAS Topical Conference Series Proposal

  1. A clearly identified scientific organizing committee with full contact information for all members and identifying a single contact on the SOC who will serve as the primary contact to the AAS Executive Office for planning purposes.

  2. Justification for the topical conference series sufficient to: a) explain in detail the topical focus of the meeting; b) establish the conference topic as frontier or cutting-edge science of great importance to one (or more) of the disciplines represented within the AAS; c) explain, in detail, the proposed meeting flow and structure along with any additional requirements (such as posters or evening sessions); d) list, if possible, either the planned invited speakers or the procedure that will be used to identify the invited speakers for the meeting; it will strengthen a proposal if the speakers are identified and if at least some of them have agreed to speak if the meeting is approved.

  3. A plan, with a timeline, for organizing the scientific content of the meeting. Note that AAS provides flexible abstract services, and will handle all logistical and financial issues.

Comments from Past Topical Conference Organizers

"This meeting [Extreme Solar Systems II] was an enormous success. I've heard many, many participants say it was the best meeting they've ever attended. So, thank you all for a marvelous week for exoplanet science."

— Geoffrey Marcy, ExSS II Organizer

"I wanted to thank you all again for the splendid job you did organizing the meeting for us. The conference was a huge success and this couldn't have happened without your dedication to every detail. I do not recall ever attending a meeting of this size where absolutely everything went so smoothly and perfectly. I very much hope we can do it again together for ExSS III."

 Fred Rasio, ExSS II Organizer

"Our truly special thanks go to the AAS staff for the enormous (though often invisible) contribution to organising and running our two conferences [IAU Symposium 261 and DDA 2009]. They were both successful, scientifically and financially. Thank you!"

— Michael Efroimsky, DDA Past Chair

Questions or to Submit Your Proposal

Send email to aastcs@aas.org