I am honored and humbled to take on the presidential position for our society. John and his predecessors leave large shoes to fill even in the best of times. This is not the best of times! Nevertheless, I take up the challenge, along with the board and along with all of you to make Lemonade – or Margaritas – from the lemons handed to us by the continuing dire pandemic.
With great sadness, we cancelled our 2020 meeting. This was the only path not only because we need to comply with science and the law, but because we care about the health and well being of you all. The wonderful face to face interactions, discussions and debates that occur in close proximity do not lend themselves to science-based health considerations. The meeting did move forward with amazing, last minute efforts by Marietta and her team at New Beginnings, the meeting committee members (Michael Dame (Program Chair) with Raj Deepika Chauhan (PB Program Chair), Mae Ciancio (IVACS Program Chair), Brett Hale (PB Student Co-chair), Cristofer Calvo (IVACS Student Co-chair), Albert Kausch (Education Chair), Savannah St. Clair (Local Organizing Committee Co-Chair), Cecilia Zapata (Local Organizing Committee Co-Chair), David Songstad (Local Organizing Committee Member)) and, our associated societies for this World Congress – the Japanese Society of Alternatives to Animal Experiments (Prof. Yasuyuki Sakai, President) and the Japanese Tissue Culture Association (Prof. Isao Asaka, President). So many of the speakers and especially our Keynote speaker – Professor Alysson Moutri – were amazingly flexible in putting together a very strong, pre-recorded program.
We had 352 registrants for the meeting. While this number is less than previous years, given the short notice and general disruption of peoples’ families, education, careers and lives, I consider it a positive showing. Amazingly, a higher percentage of registrants responded to the survey than in previous years where a door prize was up for grabs! Thank you! While still reviewing, responses were generally positive with many appreciative of the chance to see more sessions than in a standard meeting due to concurrent sessions within and between sections. Some presentations had over 300 views! Suggested improvements include increased interactivity (Q&A in particular) and technical improvements. While many liked not having to travel to a meeting, others felt that the travel allowed them to better separate from day to day concerns and focus and engage more. We will further analyze the feedback and look at options to improve. Even with the hope that 2021 will allow for an on-site meeting, we will consider the possibility of multiple types of meeting experiences.
While the meeting was not held real time, there were multiple committee zoom conferences as well as the Board meeting. I want to thank all the committee chairs for putting these together. I would also like to thank all outgoing Board Members and committee members for your wonderful service! Welcome to the incoming Board and committee members! I was especially impressed with the turn out for the student meeting. I believe we had more students in that meeting than in a typical face to face meeting! I also am pleased to see how the 2021 meeting committees have come together in IVACS and Plant to deliver an already very well defined, exciting program. I am pleased to see the efforts made and the challenges accepted for student co-conveners.
While during this time, there are many encouraging signs, I worry not only about the health of each of you, but also the health of our society. The members of the SIVB have so much to offer the broader society – and we do. However, we need to make sure we are engaging and encouraging each other to continue the SIVB. With the face to face meeting, we have better chance to engage and encourage. Through this we build and secure our membership. Please renew your membership – whether you participated in the virtual meeting or not. Reach out to colleagues and encourage them to become members. Reach out to former members and encourage renewal. We need all members to be active. Consider different initiatives and volunteer. Consider different ways to support the society financially – even just log in to smiles.amazon and choose SIVB. Refer to previous In Vitro Reports and/or talk to your financial advisors to see how to support from your 401K even. Save on taxes and support your society! Consider submitting an essay to In Vitro Reports describing what the SIVB means to you and then share on a blog and/or other social media platforms.
The hope is that 2021 will be a year where we can have a live meeting – maybe including some virtual elements. The board will continue to monitor the situation and respond accordingly to protect the health and well-being of our members. Meanwhile, get involved! We need you!
Allan Wenck, JD, PhD