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Message from the President (#136)

The Present and Future of the Goldschmidt Conference

head_mgoldhaber.jpg: Marty Goldhaber (2008-09 GS President)
Marty Goldhaber
GS President (2008-09)

As I write this, we are only weeks away from the start of the 2008 Goldschmidt conference in Vancouver Canada. The program is now solidly in place. Based on the exceptional breadth and high quality of the scientific program, the substantial numbers of registrants, and the exciting social events on the schedule, it's shaping up to be one of the best ever. This meeting will continue the long-term systematic growth in size and scope of the North American and European Goldschmidt conferences. This growth is gratifying. The success of each meeting is due in large part to the dedication and hard work of a group of scientists who put the meeting together. The continued growth and impact of the Goldschmidt is also a reflection both of the international impact of the conference and the vitality of the field of geochemistry. Innovative science is present in every session. Meeting participants realize that the key colleagues in their field are more likely than not to be present. The emphasis on student involvement always keeps the energy level high. A number of exhibitors find this meeting a great way to communicate with leaders in the field of geochemistry. Our ventures to meeting sites in Australia and Japan have yielded a positive impact in the form of increased scientific contributions to the meeting from these nations. The North American conference is also profiting from a new memorandum of understanding with the Mineralogical Society of America that recognizes MSA as an official sponsor. Overall, both the present and future of the Goldschmidt conference looks bright.

With the growing success of the Goldschmidt Conference come some challenges. The increasing size is one of these. The number of participants and associated space requirements for oral and poster sessions, the space requirements for exhibitors, and the realities of feeding and housing so many participants, makes the meeting a tight fit for the university campus venues that have hosted many of the previous meetings. The complexity of the meeting means that, although we have had extremely competent and experienced commercial help in many aspects of the planning process, the workload on the local meeting committee is still very high. We also face a situation in which a new group of volunteers organizes each meeting. We suffer from inadequate continuity between meetings, so that we tend to solve many of the same problems each time. For these reasons, the Geochemical Society is now considering instituting an expanded role for a professional meeting organizer. Having a professional organizer would relieve the local committee of dealing with many of the non-science meeting details and allow more focus on program. Part of this meeting-planning role might be to help select a suitable venue and deal with many of the on site logistical details. Because the Goldschmidt Conference is such a key function of our Society, I intend to make easing the meeting planning burdens on scientists one of the focuses of my presidency. If you have your own suggestions as to how we can better plan future Goldschmidt Conferences, please let us know by sending them to our Business Manager, Seth Davis, at seth.davis@geochemsoc.org.