2015 AAAS Annual Meeting (12-16 February 2015) - Call for Proposals

Call for Symposium Proposals

Proposal Deadline Passed

2015 Theme: Innovations, Information, and Imaging

Science and technology are being transformed by new ways to collect and use information. Progress in all fields is increasingly driven by the ability to organize, visualize, and analyze data. Advances in information and imaging technologies are generating novel applications in fields such as biochemistry, computer science, particle physics, genomics, and oceanography, and creating ways to interpret data across disciplines. This transformation makes scientific information more open, available, and accessible globally. The escalating amount of data, and advances in data analysis, are changing the ways we discover answers to scientific and societal problems. Thoughtful consideration of how information is used for societal benefit, evaluated for potential risks, and communicated beyond the scientific community will allow this revolution to reach its full potential.

Proposal Submission

The AAAS Annual Meeting is the most important general science venue for a growing segment of scientists and engineers who are interested in the latest advances as well as multidisciplinary topics and the influence of science and technology on how we live today. Thousands of leading scientists, engineers, educators, and policy-makers interact with one another and with hundreds of members from national and international media. In fact, the growing number of international attendees attests to the growing international nature of this gathering. Approximately 160 sessions spread across a dozen tracks are typically presented at the Annual Meeting.

Symposium proposals for the 2015 meeting, which will be held 12-16 February in San Jose, CA, are being solicited as of 31 January 2014. The deadline for submission is Monday, 28 April 2014 at 11:59 p.m. PT. Decisions will be announced in early July after the completion of external review and final selection by the AAAS Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee. Symposium proposal organizers are encouraged to be creative and to focus on the uniqueness and interdisciplinary nature of the Annual Meeting.

The AAAS Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee is particularly interested in proposals that highlight the theme. However, proposals that are not directly related to the theme will be considered if they involve groundbreaking areas of research, new and exciting developments, or cross-cutting activities in support of science, technology, and education. Successful proposals are characterized by interesting, topical subjects that are thoughtfully developed and include capable and articulate speakers from a broad range of institutions who represent the diversity of science and society. Proposals that cover policy are expected to primarily focus on the cutting-edge aspects of the scientific research driving policy in that particular subject, rather than focusing wholly on the issues beyond the science.

About AAAS

AAAS is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine and Science Cell Signaling. Founded in 1848, AAAS includes some 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world, with an estimated total readership of one million. The non-profit AAAS (www.aaas.org) is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy; international programs; science education; and more.

Instructions for Submitting Symposium Proposals

All proposals MUST be submitted (through this website) by Monday, 28 April 2014

The deadline for proposal submission has been extended to Monday, 28 April 2014. Proposals will not be accepted after the deadline. All proposals will be peer-reviewed. Decisions will be announced in July. To receive notifications, please ensure that the following e-mail addresses will not be blocked: meetings@aaas.org, tlohwate@aaas.org, cjones@aaas.org, nmaylett@aaas.org.

Follow these instructions carefully. The information you provide will be used by the reviewers to evaluate and score your proposal. Incomplete proposals will be eliminated from consideration.

For additional guidance, the Program Committee underscores that a successful symposium proposal is characterized by interesting and timely topics that are thoughtfully developed and include capable and articulate speakers who represent the diversity of science and society, including disciplinary field, gender, ethnicity, and geographic location.

SCHEDULING NOTE: When selecting speakers, please ensure that they are available to participate at any time between Friday, 13 February and the morning of Monday, 16 February 2015. Once the schedule for sessions is announced in the fall of 2014, it will be considered final.

LANGUAGE AND STYLE: Meeting attendees come from more than 50 countries. For language choice, use American English spelling and translations. For style, use The Chicago Manual of Style. For example, use a comma before "and" in a series of three or more, and spell out all abbreviations and acronyms. Do not use "ALL CAPS" for the title of a symposium or the title of a speaker presentation. A correct example:

Rethinking the Science, Biology, and Importance of Stem Cells in Regenerative Medicine

AAAS reserves the right to edit all submissions for publication.

TRAVEL SUPPORT: Organizers, speakers, and others participate in the program at their own expense or use funding secured by an organizer from a source that has been vetted by AAAS Meetings to avoid conflicts of interest. As a nonprofit organization, AAAS does not have the financial resources to fund travel expenses for the more than 1,000 program participants at each yearís meeting. However, one of the 24 disciplinary sections of AAAS may choose to authorize travel support for speakers, organizers, and discussants from their modest budgets. Funding is limited and typically provides partial support. Co-organizers and moderators are not eligible to apply for travel support unless they are acting as a moderator in place of an organizer who cannot attend the meeting.


1. Set up Proposal


Title must include no more than 85 characters, including spaces. When preparing a proposal and the title of the symposium, organizers are encouraged to be creative and to focus on the interdisciplinary nature of the AAAS Annual Meeting. Please avoid jargon.


Please enter a valid e-mail address where messages can be received and accessed year-long. The submitter will immediately receive an e-mail confirming the initiation of a session proposal.


Specify the total time requested for your symposium. Keep in mind that speakers may travel far and have busy schedules; allow them enough time to make substantive presentations and to take questions from the audience.

There are three session types: 90-minute format; standard 180-minute format; and alternate 180-minute format. The Program Committee reserves the right to accept a proposal contingent on altering the time requested.

  • 90-Minute Format: See Section 2.
  • Standard 180-Minute Format: See Section 2.
  • Alternate 180-Minute Format: You must enter 4 speakers only and 1 moderator, who also can be an organizer, and allow a minimum of 1 hour for interaction with attendees in a breakout session format. During the interactive part, the moderator and speakers can serve as facilitators. The room will be set with a mix of theater and round-table seating.


Proposals for 180-minute symposia must present compelling reasons as to why the additional time is needed.


Please select the Primary Subject Category that best describes the overall nature of the symposium. This information is used by the Program Committee to help generate broader symposium tracks or sub-themes. Please select Secondary Subject Categories within which the symposium falls. This information is used to develop the cross-cutting General Subject Index contained in the Program Book.


If applicable, indicate the primary section affiliation of the session organizer.


Indicate if your proposal has been discussed with an AAAS Section. Consultation is not required, however, sections can provide input to help strengthen a proposal, especially if an organizer is submitting for the first time. Consultation does not imply support or endorsement of a proposal. A list of sections and contacts are available at http://www.aaas.org/page/sections/.

Please check the section(s) that are related to your proposalís disciplinary areas. You must indicate at least one section, but you may indicate more than one. After you have confirmed proposal submission, a link to your proposal will be sent to section officers for informational and review purposes.


Provide a clear, succinct synopsis of your proposed symposium (up to1,500 characters, including spaces) as it would appear in the Program Book. Avoid the use of report or book references, abbreviations, or technical jargon. Do not repeat the meeting's theme title in a symposium title or synopsis. Past Annual Meeting programs are archived at http://meetings.aaas.org/ and can be a useful source of information.

Describe the subject, highlighting the scientific issues, innovations, or research to be addressed. Do not name or reference speakers or the titles of their presentations in the synopsis. Speakers are listed separately along with their presentation titles and descriptions (see Step 2).


Describe how the proposed symposium relates to the theme (up to 500 characters, including spaces). Almost any topic in science and technology can be related to the theme, and submitters are encouraged to extend their reach by thinking internationally. However, the Committee will consider proposals that are not directly related to the theme if they involve ground-breaking areas of research, new and exciting developments, or cross-cutting activities in support of science, technology, and education.


AAAS requires clear disclosures from all presenters at its Annual Meeting regarding any affiliations, funding sources, or financial holdings that might raise questions of bias or be perceived to have potentially influenced presentation content. You will be asked to confirm that there are no known conflicts of interest for your speakers or list conflicts of interest. Speakers will also be asked to provide this information at a later date.


The AAAS Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee is particularly interested in symposium proposals that include representation of women, international scientists, and underrepresented minorities. Organizers are strongly encouraged to include such participants as this is a consideration in the selection of symposia by the Program Committee. After proposal selection, if your proposal is conditionally accepted to be included in the Annual Meeting program, the Program Committee may suggest ways to modify the composition of the session to ensure greater diversity among symposium participants.

2. Add/Edit People


Please note: If the organizer or co-organizer will also be participating in the session, each separate role must be entered into the system (e.g., organizer and moderator).

Symposium Organizer

A symposium may only have one organizer. The organizer is the primary person responsible for shaping of the symposium topic, coordination, and recruitment of participants. The organizer serves as the primary contact for all communications with AAAS Meetings. It is the responsibility of the organizer to submit the proposal to AAAS and ensure that participants, including the co-organizer(s), receive all information relevant to their inclusion in the proposal and in the Meeting if the proposal is accepted. After proposal acceptance, as necessary, the organizer may suggest addition, removal, or replacement of participants. However, the organizer is responsible for providing, in a timely manner, information regarding new participants and reason for the change to AAAS for final approval.


A 90-minute symposium is limited to no more or less than three (3) speakers, a standard 180-minute symposium is limited to a minimum of four (4) and a maximum of six (6) speakers, and an alternate 180-Minute symposium must have four (4) speakers only and one (1) moderator, who also can be an organizer. Allow speakers enough time to make substantive presentations and to take questions from the audience. If your symposium addresses a subject for which there are differing scientific opinions, include speakers with different perspectives. Speakers must not all be from the same institution.

Optional Roles

Symposium Co-Organizer (optional)

Co-organizers assist the organizer with lining up speakers and ensuring that deadlines are met by symposium participants. There is a maximum of two (2) co-organizers.

Moderator (optional)

A maximum of one (1) moderator. This role is filled by the symposium organizer or co-organizer unless one of them cannot attend the meeting. The moderator provides a brief overview, introduces each speaker, and facilitates a general discussion by the audience and speakers through a Q&A session. Moderators do not make presentations, submit abstracts, or have a formal speaking role.

Discussant (optional)

A maximum of one (1) discussant for a 90-minute session and two (2) for a 180-minute standard format session. Discussants provide a brief review of, or counterpoint to, the main topics or issues covered by the panel. They do not make presentations, submit abstracts, or have a formal speaking role. There are no discussants in the 180-minute alternate format; the moderator and speakers serve as facilitators.


You will be required to enter the following information for each individual:

  • Name (confirm correct spelling)
  • Job Title
  • Affiliation (primary institution; confirm correct spelling)
  • E-mail address (confirm address where messages can be received year-long)
  • City
  • State or Province (if applicable)
  • Country
  • Status (confirmed or invited)
  • Complete mailing address
  • Fax Number (optional)
  • Telephone number
Without correct contact information, AAAS will be unable to:
  • Confirm participation.
  • Communicate with speakers who apply for travel assistance.
  • Send information to speakers about Newsroom Operations, including invitations to participate in news briefings and interviews.

For each speaker include a firm presentation title (up to 85 characters, including spaces); for example, Domains of Learning and Memory that Are Enhanced with Sleep in Adults. Also, describe the proposed content or perspective of the presentation in a few sentences (up to 500 characters, including spaces). This is crucial to the reviewers' understanding of why you are proposing a particular speaker.

Please do not submit CVs, provide biographical information, or submit abstracts. A request to submit an abstract will be made AFTER the Program Committee has made its program selections. While recognizing that some changes will occur, the committee reserves the right to reconsider symposia if speaker substitutions after acceptance shift in symposium's focus away from the original proposal's.

Status: Invited or Confirmed. Invited means that you have contacted the speaker, and your invitation is under consideration. Confirmed means that the speaker has responded to your invitation and confirmed that he or she is both available over the dates of the meeting and will participate if the proposal is accepted. After the program is final, AAAS will send notifications to all panelists, whether invited or confirmed, to verify their status and request final confirmation.

3. Enter Keywords

Select up to five (5) keywords that best describe your proposal.

4. Sections

Select up to four (4) sections that are related to your propsals disciplinary areas.

5. Confirmation

Once you have entered all the required information for the people in your session (including a presentation descriptionfor each speaker), proceed to the Confirmation step. Review all the information you have submitted. If you need to make corrections to any information, just click on the appropriate step link in the left frame. Otherwise, click the "Submit" button at the bottom of the page. To log out, simply close your browser window. If you run into any problems, please e-mail your questions or comments using the hyperlink to Technical Support that appears in the Symposium Control Panel.

Additional Note: Once a proposal has been accepted into the program, any change to the session topic, number of speakers, or participants must be approved by AAAS.


The following are the scoring considerations used by reviewers. Organizers should carefully follow the instructions for submitting their proposals, which will be scored for completeness and clarity. Incomplete proposals will not enter review.

1. Evaluate the proposal in general: Is information adequate for evaluation? Does the proposal clearly describe the session? Is it well organized and coherent? More important, is the proposal complete?

2. Evaluate the topic: Is the topic timely? Is it suitable for an AAAS Annual Meeting? Is the topic too narrow for a multidisciplinary audience? The AAAS Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee is particularly interested in proposals that highlight the theme. However, proposals that are not directly related to the theme will be considered if they involve ground-breaking areas of research, new and exciting developments, or cross-cutting activities in support of science, technology, and education.

3. Evaluate the content: Does the proposal cover ground-breaking areas of research, new and exciting developments, or cross-cutting activities in support of science, technology, or education? Does it present new or innovative ideas to attendees? Is it a policy-related proposal that presents the science underlying policy or addresses issues of significant importance to research, funding, or collaboration? Consider overall merit and the importance of including the proposed session in the program as well as whether the content is too specialized for an AAAS multidisciplinary audience.

4. Evaluate the participants: Are they of a caliber to speak authoritatively on their topic? Is the panel composed of diverse organizations and institutions? Are the presentations integrated and coherent as a group? Does the panel present a balanced perspective?

5. Finally, and most important, we want you to make an overall judgment as to the relative merit of each proposal, expressed as a rank ordering of all the proposals that you review, with 1 the best, 2 the second best, and so on. This rank should be based on the previous four criteria, but it need not be from a mechanical arithmetic average of your communicated scores. Different criteria may figure more or less strongly in your judgment of each proposal, based on the particular nature of that proposal, and this can be reflected in your overall rankings.

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