07 July 2008

Thinking about the American Malacological Society meeting

The 74th Annual Meeting of the American Malacological Society was at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois last week. For various speculative reasons, the meeting was less well attended, with only 100 or so malacologists, than some of the recent meetings that had attracted as many as 150 attendees.

AMStshirt
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.

Less people meant fewer presentations; in fact, on Wednesday, the last day of the meeting, there was only one set of talks. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because when there are too many simultaneous talks, one is often forced to choose between 2 or more talks that one may be interested in. On the other hand, the land snail ID session, the poster session and the traditional AMS auction all took place on Tuesday night. I didn’t think there was enough time to look at specimens, to read the posters and chat with the presenters and to go thru the books and reprints that were on sale. Moreover, all of those activities were interrupted with frequent trips to the beer stand for refills (and to the men’s room for obvious reasons). I have been told that the cramming of those activities into short time slots in rented rooms were out of financial necessity.

There were many good and interesting talks and posters. In retrospect, however, I am not sure what the terrestrial gastropod workshop and the ID session had intended to accomplish and what was actually achieved. It seemed to me that the majority of those in attendance were already more or less experienced malacologists. The abstracts of all presentations are available here.

On Thursday we also had a fun field trip. I will write about that in another post.

Besides providing venues for presenting one’s latest research and learning about what others have been up to, these meetings are also great opportunities for renewing one’s friendships, for making new friends and for casual exchanges of scientific ideas. I would recommend the AMS meetings to everyone interested in studying mollusks. While in Carbondale, we were already making plans not just for next year’s meeting in Ithaca, New York, but even for the one in 2010 that may take place in Thailand jointly with the World Congress of Malacology.

Photos from the meeting are at bella chiocciola.

AMSgroup
Getting ready for the group photo.


5 comments:

Frank Anderson said...

Thanks for the AMS plug! Yes, anyone interested in mollusks should consider coming to the AMS meeting -- (s)he will quite likely meet someone who can help him/her with her/his research, or at least several people that share an interest in mollusks!

And allow me to address a few points...

On the other hand, the land snail ID session, the poster session and the traditional AMS auction all took place on Tuesday night.

Yes, this was a bit of a conundrum. The problem is that we really only had three nights to work with (Sunday didn't really count, with people rolling in to register), and on one of those nights we had to do the banquet. I really wanted to get people out into the hills south of Carbondale for a winery visit. If we'd foregone that, we could've done the land snail ID session and poster session that night (Monday) and the auction the next night (Tuesday). In retrospect, that might have been better in some ways, but it honestly never crossed my mind, because I really wanted to go to the winery!

Finances were an issue for the reason you pointed out -- we expected about 140 people and got 100, which limited our flexibility. But that didn't really factor into this decision -- it would've been cheaper to rent the rooms in the Student Center Monday night than to haul everyone out to the winery.

In retrospect, however, I am not sure what the terrestrial gastropod workshop and the ID session had intended to accomplish and what was actually achieved. It seemed to me that the majority of those in attendance were already more or less experienced malacologists.

We'd have to talk with the organizers, but I think the intention was to scale up a land snail workshop that was hosted by Ron Caldwell a few years ago in Tennessee. Lots of agency folks attended that event, and we were hoping for more of the same. Alas, I don't think it quite turned out that way, but hopefully those who attended learned something!

So if we meet in Thailand, will you go?

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

Andy:
The winery was fun. I am glad we went.

I am also glad I rode in your car to the field trip. You made me want to go to Thailand. So, yes, I will seriously consider going & even staying for a few extra days afterwards for sightseeing & fieldwork.

xoggoth said...

Hey, you snaily people actually look pretty normal!

AYDIN ÖRSTAN said...

It looks like that from a distance.

Anonymous said...

I talked with several agency types and they had no funds to travel at all. And it is very much work season for the Fish and wildlife people - state and federal. I don't know how to accommodate them but even more local meets are pretty effective. I had no time at all to attend auction. Some people got a great deal out of the identification sessions- many of them are just beginners and appreciated the considerable expertise available. Yes it was chaos but lots of people made some progress. The session could just have easily happened later at the dorm and without the overlap with posters and auction. Why not auction after banquet?