By Sheryll Poe
AAA’s Program Committee is responsible for the overall Annual Meeting program with duties that include planning scientific sessions, soliciting symposia proposals, inviting keynote and plenary speakers, programming abstracts, and approving the schedule/format.
Program Committee Co-Chairs Joan Richtsmeier and Paul Kulesa recently provided an update on the Annual Meeting planning.
Q: Can you provide a brief overview of the Program Committee and why it’s important?
A: In a recent survey of AAA members, a large percentage of the membership cited the annual meeting as an event of great value. We strive to design a program with something for everyone – a challenge given the diversity of our membership who study anatomy in all its forms, from the microbiome to whole organisms, and who work to advance anatomical science through research, education, and professional development.
Scientifically, our meetings have focused primarily on neuroscience, cell and developmental biology, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal biology, imaging, and vertebrate paleontology. We also have a strong contingent of members whose goals impact professional development, education, and science communication and we attempt to program for those members as well.
Q: What’s the current status of planning for the next Annual Meeting program?
A: WE ARE PLANNED! We have two great plenary speakers on the schedule as well as a keynote that I think everyone will enjoy (Ed Yong, 2021 Pulitzer Prize winner and author of “An Immense World”). This year’s speakers are diverse in background and in focus.
Q: This year is a bit different when it comes to the Annual Meeting – has that been a challenge? Or an opportunity? And in what ways?
A: It’s a challenge, especially for [AAA Meetings and Education Senior Director] Colby Shultz, who used to be able to build on a blueprint put together by EB.
But Colby has worked extra hard to guarantee a great site and support for the meeting. We want this year to be especially impactful for all the members. We had a very strong set of proposals sent in for scientific, professional development, and education platforms and we are really excited to review abstracts to fill out the program!
Q: What has been the best part of serving on the Program Committee and working on the Annual Meeting?
Joan: For me, it has been getting to know people that I might not have had the chance to spend a lot of time with because we are from different backgrounds and focus on very different parts of anatomy. It’s also been great to get to know the staff better and understand how critical they are to the membership’s success. Also, the staff’s insistence on the promotion of the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion in pursuit of advancing of the anatomical sciences has taught me some life lessons.
Paul: I have had fun learning how to communicate with the folks and integrate ideas between the education, professional development and scientific committee groups.
Q: Has there been anything about being on the Program Committee that has surprised you?
A: How challenging it is to create a program that has something of interest and value for all our members and the number of Zoom meetings/emails to coordinate the program!
Q: What would you like fellow AAA members to know about working on a committee?
A: That it is challenging, a lot of work, but worth it. It’s also a lot of fun. You get a chance to produce something for the membership that you can take pride in.