2011 AAPG ACE
Thanks to the many volunteers, including AAPG and SEPM committee leadership, along with the AAPG staff, the 2011 AAPG Annual Convention in Houston was a tremendous success. Total attendance was 8,448, slightly eclipsing the 2006 Houston Convention for the largest attendance since 1990.
Visiting with the convention attendees, I found that they had favorable reviews of both the organization and facilities. The quality of the technical program (oral presentations and posters) is the primary criteria for which annual conventions are judged. General Technical Program Chair Linda Sternbach and Vice Chair Carl Steffensen were committed to making the technical program well organized and relevant to the participants. Theme chairs were incorporated into the technical program for the first time in an annual convention, and these 14 additional industry experts provided insight and leadership for the abstract selection and planning of the 11 themes.
Poster Chair Tom Bulling encouraged the development of an e-poster lounge whereby poster presentations in the form of brief voice-added PowerPoint displays could compliment the usual poster program. Tom and the AAPG staff co-developed the e-poster layout and future conventions will likely see this concept expand further.
The sponsorship committee, comprised of Jim Cearley and Evelyn Medvin, were extremely successful and garnered $668,500 in sponsorship contributions.
The Teacher’s Day Program led by Committee Chair Alison Henning was conducted on Monday. Therefore K-12 teachers could attend the teacher training in the morning, attend the All-Convention luncheon and later roam the presentations, posters, or exhibit halls with volunteer mentors. In addition, they had a private session to ask questions provided either by their students or themselves with the All Convention speakers - astronauts Harrison Schmitt, Jim Reilly, and Scott Carpenter.
Seven field trips and 16 short courses were coordinated by the AAPG and SEPM before and after the convention.
The large number of attendees for each day, including the final day Wednesday, was an amazing sight. The combination of topical and timely technical sessions, eight diverse forums and panel discussions, and oil prices above $100/bbl. likely attracted the high attendance. Attendance for the opening ceremony, All-Convention, SEPM, and Division luncheons attracted large crowds as well.
The convention leadership dealt with several surprises as General Technical Chair Linda Sternbach and Oral Presentation Chair Andrea Reynolds can attest. A government shutdown was averted only 48 hours before the convention that involved many USGS members. A fire alarm and evacuation of the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday at 4:30PM interrupted the last of the afternoon speakers, but many attendees politely came back twenty minutes later to listen to the conclusions. The pullout of two astronaut speakers due to critical duties – Drew Feustel preparing for the space shuttle flight Endeavour launch and Kathy Sullivan preparing for a congressional confirmation vote prior to her appointment as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce - made life quite interesting. We were delighted to add Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter as a late addition to compliment speakers Harrison “Jack” Schmitt (Apollo 17) and Jim Reilly (3 shuttle flights) to make for a wonderful luncheon.
I could not be prouder of the committee leadership of the AAPG and SEPM that together made this event a success. I look forward to seeing everyone in Long Beach, California next year!