What a year it has been! Before writing this message, I re-read the AAAR President’s message by Andrea Ferro in last year’s spring edition of AAAR Particulars. When she wrote it in February 2020, we were optimistically preparing for a normal meeting in Raleigh, NC. We did not know at the time that a few weeks later we would be frantically changing our plans, rebuilding the meeting program from scratch, and negotiating with the Raleigh Convention Center and hotels to avoid financial losses. I already mentioned this in my previous message, but I am happy to say it again: the efforts of the 2020 Conference Chair Matti Maricq, the former AAAR President Andrea Ferro, the excellent team at Virtual Inc., and a number of really dedicated AAAR members were truly heroic and led to the first and very successful AAAR virtual conference. While some things could have been done better if we were not rushing against time, with lessons learned in 2020, we are now much better prepared to handle anything that 2021 may have in store for us. With that in mind, I am excited to share some news about the Association from a Board of Directors meeting in early February. First, I am pleased to report that the Association remains as strong as ever. The second, third, fourth, and beyond are detailed below:
2021 Annual Conference Update
Chris Hogan, the 2021 Conference Chair, has been hard at work preparing for the 39th AAAR Annual Conference located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on October 18 – 22, 2021. I am very excited about the new conference format he is planning. The conference will kick off with a Monday night plenary and end with a Thursday night plenary, thus eliminating the dreaded Friday morning sessions. Chris has excellent special symposia and plenary speakers already lined up, so please take a look. We are currently planning for an in-person conference, but we will closely watch the developing situation and decide in early Summer whether the conference will be in-person or switched to a virtual format. Unlike 2020, we are better prepared to handle various scenarios and will be able to provide you with a great conference even if we have to do it remotely again.
Association Financial Status
The Association was projected to have financial losses in 2020, but due to the impressive dedication of our sponsors and unwavering loyalty of AAAR members, we have been able to break even and remained steady at 190% of our one-year operating budget. This places us in a strong position – we have enough funds in our reserves to run the 2021 meeting without having to increase the conference registration fees, and without curtailing popular strategic projects such as travel grants for students and international professionals and Fine Particle Art and Video Competition. Although we are projecting some losses in 2021 because we anticipate reduced attendance at the annual meeting, we hope to minimize them by actively recruiting new sponsors for the meeting and encouraging as many people as possible to attend.
Endowments and Awards
All of the AAAR endowments are doing really well. I am very pleased that the Susanne V. Hering Award fund has gathered around $30k thanks to the generosity of AAAR members. The Board of Directors voted unanimously to add $25k to the fund from the AAAR strategic reserves in order to make this fund a true endowment (this matching process is similar to what we did for other endowment funds in the past). This will make it possible to award the first Susanne V. Hering Award during the 2021 meeting!
The purpose of this new award is to recognize accomplishments and encourage further research in the field of aerosol science with special emphasis on work that has had a significant impact on public health, the built environment, or the global ecosystem. If you would also like to contribute to one of the AAAR endowments, please visit the AAAR donations page.
We decided to invest in highlighting the important role AAAR members are playing in our society. This will be done in two intertwined ways. Firstly, the Virtual Inc. team will work with us on creating podcasts, expanding social media support, and developing informational materials that bring AAAR to the attention of various stakeholders, including new sponsors, members of the press, and people who currently are not aware of AAAR (but should be). You may have seen the seed of this activity during the AAAR COVID Press Conference that included Shelly Miller, Linsey Marr, Jose Luis-Jimenez, and 20+ media participants including Forbes and The New York Times. Secondly, we will recruit Social Media Ambassadors, who will be students or postdocs selected at least a month in advance of the conference to promote the conference beforehand and during the conference. In return, they will be able to register for the conference for free. Please be on the lookout for applications for Social Media Ambassadors later in the year.
New in 2021
Starting this year, the Association’s journal Aerosol Science and Technology (AS&T) has a new Editor-in-Chief, Jonathan Reid. I strongly encourage the association members to submit high-quality research articles, letters, and reviews to AS&T focusing on theoretical, numerical, and experimental investigations of aerosols. All AAAR members have free access to this journal as a benefit of their membership. The journal will continue awarding the AS&T Outstanding Publication Award at the annual meetings. Also new this year is the launch of the AAAR Lecture Series and accompanied Journal Club highlighting recent papers published in the AS&T journal. This activity will be led by AAAR Student Chapters. Stay tuned for the announcements!
I hope that the coming season will bring much-needed relief from the fatigue associated with the pandemic. I am looking forward to the coming summer and working with all of you on further improving our Association!
President, AAAR Board of Directors