16 January 2014

Thanks to All Who Helped Make Our DC Meeting a Huge Success!

Kevin Marvel

Kevin Marvel American Astronomical Society (AAS)

Final registration numbers for the 223rd AAS meeting are in: 3,132 astronomers, policy makers, educators, students, journalists, and guests showed up at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, for one of the busiest, most dynamic conferences in the history of the Society. We didn’t set an attendance record, but we did set a record for the number of oral and poster presentations, nearly topping 2,200, including an unprecedented 20 invited and prize talks. We also had a record number of posters entered into the competition for the Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards — more than 450!

As the AAS leadership and Executive Office staff recover from the whirlwind week that was, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped make the meeting so successful, both scientifically and as a motivator for new work in our field. This includes our thousands of attendees, of course, but also the Gaylord staff, our logistics contractor, our audiovisual contractor, our speaker-ready contractor, and all our volunteers.

The Society especially thanks our many exhibitors and sponsors. Sponsorship of scientific conferences enables many activities, including professional-development workshops, education and outreach activities, and creation of community networking and collaborative environments. By enabling these activities, sponsors play an important role, effectively helping the AAS to achieve its mission to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.

Because of justified concerns about the proper use of public funds to support conferences generally, the AAS actively seeks support only for activities or events that directly enhance the effectiveness of scientific communication at our meetings. Workshops, receptions, and even the provision of high-tech audiovisual technology all play a role in expanding the collaborative communication and interaction that make our meetings a significant contributor to the progress of astronomical research. Here are some examples of how AAS meetings facilitate and amplify progress in our field:

  • The AAS winter meeting is the largest annual gathering of physics and astronomy undergraduate students in the world.
  • AAS meetings provide significant networking opportunities for those seeking jobs in the astronomical sciences and for employers seeking qualified employees.
  • The collaborative discussion and interaction that takes place at AAS meetings — both in scheduled sessions and in impromptu gatherings — leads to new mission and facility concepts.
  • AAS meetings provide a low-cost opportunity for working groups, mission teams, and others to gather for splinter meetings related to management, implementation, and operation of scientific programs.
  • AAS meetings allow program officers, facility directors, and other relevant staff from government or federally funded facilities to communicate directly with the community they serve, enhancing the performance and output of these facilities and programs.
  • AAS meetings feature the latest scientific results across the entire sweep of the astronomical sciences, from the solar system to the farthest known galaxies and everything in between.
  • When people head home after an AAS meeting, they are hoarse from speaking to their colleagues so much, excited and energized about astronomical research and, in many cases, have made new connections with others working in their research area.

Again, thanks to all who helped make our DC meeting so productive and worthwhile. We look forward to seeing you again in June, when our 224th meeting convenes in Boston!