The recent AAPG Annual Convention and Exhibition in Houston was the largest AAPG gathering of the 21st century – in fact, with 8,446 attending, it was the annual meeting largest meeting in 22 years, and the largest ever for one held in Houston.Steve Levine, general chair for the highly successful ACE, took a moment to reflect shortly after the last light was turned off in the exhibits hall.
EXPLORER: In the eyes of you and the committee, was this a successful convention? Why?
LEVINE: I believe that before the convention had arrived, the committee and I felt that we had done the best job possible. We had an advantage of several team members that possessed previous experience from the successful 2006 convention in Houston, so they confronted their challenges quite well.
I was especially proud of the effort from those less experienced committee members, as they were extremely hard-working and delivered great results.
The AAPG convention committee and I were delighted with the outcome. Feedback from many of the convention attendees was highly positive. The quality and organization of the technical program (oral presentations and posters) is the foundation of the annual convention, and attendees indicated that the topics and quality were generally quite good.
The technical committee, led by committee general technical program chair Linda Sternbach and vice chair Carl Steffensen, worked tirelessly on the coordination of the technical program.
The incorporation of “Theme Chairs” for the first time in an annual convention enabled 14 additional industry experts to provide leadership for the abstract selection and planning of the 11 themes.
EXPLORER: Now that some time has passed, what is the general mood (about the meeting) for you and the committee?
LEVINE: I have spoken to many members of the convention leadership, and each has expressed how pleased they were with the outcome.
It is a wonderful feeling to be a member of such an outstanding team of volunteers. Each AAPG and SEPM committee chair or member, SEPM and Division vice chair and theme chair should be very proud of their contribution and dedication to make this convention a success.
EXPLORER: What innovations were particularly successful in Houston?
LEVINE: The introduction of the e-poster program – a novel idea from Poster Committee chair Tom Bulling that brought poster presentations in the form of brief voice-added Powerpoint displays to compliment the poster program.
The AAPG staff did a great job of implementing this program.
I am confident that e-posters will become increasingly popular with tech savvy AAPG members in future conventions.
EXPLORER: What talks/forums/events were especially noteworthy? Why?
LEVINE: There were many that were notable – I attended the Teacher Program session coordinated by Alison Henning, where more than 50 K-12 earth science teachers had a private session to ask questions provided either by their students or themselves with the All Convention Luncheon speakers – astronauts Harrison Schmitt, Jim Reilly and Scott Carpenter.
It was a special moment that I wished all of the attendees could have witnessed.
EXPLORER: Were there any surprises – both pleasant or otherwise – that made this meeting especially memorable?
LEVINE: We were pleasantly surprised to see such the large number of attendees for each day – including the final day on Wednesday. I would have to attribute this to the combination of topical and timely technical sessions, eight diverse forums and panel discussions, and the added benefit of oil prices above $100/bbl. that enabled additional geoscientists to attend.
We overcame several adversities:
♦ General Technical Chair Linda Sternbach and Oral Presentation Chair Andrea Reynolds were prepared to juggle speakers and session chairs had the government shutdown not been averted only 48 hours before the convention.
♦ A fire alarm and evacuation of the George R. Brown Convention Center on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. interrupted the last of the afternoon speakers – but many attendees politely came back 20 minutes later to listen to the conclusions.
The Hilton Americas Hotel lobby bar certainly benefitted from the interruption from those displaced from the exhibit hall.
♦ We needed to make late changes in the All-Convention Luncheon speakers program as a result of two of the astronaut speakers having critical duties that kept them from attending the meeting as planned – Drew Feustel was quarantined preparing for his Endeavour space shuttle flight launch, and Kathy Sullivan was preparing for a Congressional conformation vote prior to her appointment as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce. This made life quite interesting, to say the least.
We were delighted to add Mercury astronaut Scott Carpenter to our roster, however, complimenting speakers Harrison “Jack” Schmitt and Jim Reilly and making for a wonderful luncheon.