Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the articles contained in the Academy News are those of the identified authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Academy.
Source: Andrew M. Baker, MD, 2016 Annual Meeting Program Chair
It’s a cold day in early December as I write this—and by the time you read this, we will be into the New Year—but I’m already excited about the AAFS 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting. The flights are booked, my registration is submitted, and the hotel room is reserved. Even though this will be my 19th AAFS meeting, I still remain dazzled (perhaps even a bit overwhelmed) by the options. That’s the real beauty of the AAFS Annual Meeting—you can branch out, liaise with colleagues from disciplines peripheral to your own, take in a Workshop or a Scientific Session on a topic wholly new to you, or brainstorm with peers in another section on a future project or presentation.
The AAFS 2016 Annual Scientific Meeting is now just around the corner. Are you registered and ready? It’s not too late, but the pre-registration deadline of January 27 is rapidly approaching. That is the last date you can sign up for Workshops, Breakfasts, Luncheons, and other Special Sessions that require pre-registration. And while you can wait to register for the meeting itself at the door, you will save considerable money (and time!) by registering in advance. How do you register? You can easily go online and take care of the whole process at www.aafs.org. Or you can scan and email your registration form to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re old school, you can still mail your registration form (with payment) to the AAFS. While you’re online, download the meeting Program and Proceedings (around the first of February) from the AAFS website. An especially handy tool you can download to your mobile device is the “Guidebook” app.
As you plan your registration and meeting week, keep this in mind: there are 24 workshops, multiple interdisciplinary symposia, and special sessions to choose from. All should plan to attend the special Evening Session (Tuesday) to learn about the AAFS becoming a Standards Development Organization (SDO). And make sure you are at Wednesday’s Academy-wide Plenary Session, designed with President Weedn’s vision and the meeting’s theme in mind, Transformation: Embracing Change. But here’s the thing—all that is just in the first three days. Then we dive into the Scientific Sessions, where your fellow members will showcase new developments and findings in more than 880 platform and poster presentations scattered among 11 sections. Some will be in multidisciplinary scientific sessions, including collaborations between Toxicology & Pathology/Biology and Jurisprudence & Engineering Sciences. Outside of the social networking and chance to see old friends, the overwhelming variety of scientific presentation at the AAFS is what has kept me coming back to the meetings for so many years. I encourage you to branch out, attend sessions in a variety of disciplines, and come away inspired for some collaborative and cross-discipline research of your own.
While you move through the week at the meeting, please make it a priority to attend your section’s business meeting and the subsequent AAFS Annual Business Meeting on Wednesday afternoon. These meetings are essential for keeping your section and the AAFS running and will allow your voice to be heard on matters ranging from section finances to choosing the future leadership of the organization.
Many of you are aware of the National Institute of Standards of Technology (NIST) development of the Organization of Scientific Area Committees (OSAC) for the forensic sciences. A large number of AAFS members are active at all levels of the OSAC. On either Monday or Tuesday during the AAFS 2016 Annual Meeting, each of the five Scientific Area Committees (SACs) within the OSAC will be holding a public meeting. The meeting times are listed in the calendar of events. You can read more about the OSAC by following the links at http://www.nist.gov/forensics. The extensive involvement of the AAFS in the OSAC enterprise, and the valuable input from AAFS members, remains vital to the success of standards development in the forensic sciences. Seriously consider attending the SAC meeting(s) relevant to your discipline if you can.
At the meeting, please take the time to show a smile, extend a handshake, or give a pat on the back to the intrepid AAFS staff. Though they make running a meeting of this magnitude appear easy, and they are always quick to provide answers and solutions, the meeting is the culmination of 12 months of hard work on their part. After a couple of days to catch their breath at the end of the Las Vegas meeting, rest assured they will be hard at work putting together the 2017 meeting.
Finally, plan to have fun in Las Vegas. While it may be true that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, what happens at the AAFS meeting might be forever memorialized in the next AAFS newsletter! The spirit of camaraderie the meeting engenders is a big part of the glue that holds the AAFS together and is certainly a major reason I am a proud and happy AAFS member. Your Program Co-Chair, Julie Howe, and I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.