Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

December 13 2012

PRE CON: A New Conference Evolves

Christoper Durso

MEETING: First Joint Congress on Evolutionary Biology, a new co-located meeting bringing together the American Society of Naturalists (ASN), the Canadian Society for Ecology and Evolution (CSEE), the European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB), the Society for the Study of Evolution (SSE), and the Society of Systematic Biologists (SSB). Organizers are expecting between 2,000 and 2,400 scientists, students, and other attendees at the Ottawa Convention Center on July 6–10.

CHALLENGES : It’s not that it’s a brand-new conference; it’s that’s it involves five different professional societies - each with its own mission, priorities, and organizational culture. And there are numerous satellite events - six at last count - latching onto the main conference.

“We believe it will make for a very powerful event, but it’s had a bit of growing pains,” said Chuck Schouwerwou, CMP, president and principal meeting planner for ConferSense Planners, which is organizing the meeting. “Things kept changing so rapidly we ended up doing a blanket booking of the [entire] convention center, so we could be prepared for any eventuality.”

The budget is another challenge, because the conference doesn’t have many sponsors - mostly scientific publishers and journals - and most of the attendees are university professors and students. Schouwerwou said: “These societies therefore aren’t necessarily rich.”

INITIATIVES: Schouwerwou is particularly excited about the conference’s poster sessions, which are being organized as evening receptions. “This is more like a social occasion,” Schouwerwou said, “with a purpose.”

The closing reception is also breaking out, moving from a sit-down dinner to a cocktail event at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, with food stations, networking, and a nightclub area. And there will be a paperless program - available via a PDF download and a mobile app, with the option to pay for a hard copy.

The entire process has benefited, Schouwerwou said, from the size of the planning committee, which is made up of the two university professors who championed bringing the conference to Ottawa, and Schouwerwou. “For the most part, it’s just the three of us sitting there hammering out the meeting,” Schouwerwou said, “and I find with this model we get so much done so fast.”


White-Hat Hackers

SHMOOCON 2012: When it comes to computer hackers, there are good guys and bad guys. The good guys call themselves “white hats” - and ShmooCon 2012 brought some of the best (1) to the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 27–29. Devoted to offering “three days of an interesting atmosphere (2) for demonstrating technology exploitation, inventive software and hardware solutions, and open discussions of critical infosec issues,” ShmooCon’s programming included the Hack Fortress challenge (3) and Lockpick Village (4). For more information, visit www.shmoocon.org



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