As many of us spent time together at our annual meeting in July, a common topic was, “What was your first meeting?” Mine was 1989 in Chicago—and this year it was a pleasant memory to be in Chicago again 25 years later. During those 25 years I have averaged four or five conferences a year, but CRS has always been my “home conference,” and I have attended 22 of the last 25 years of annual meetings.
We have all seen changes over those 25 years. This year, for example, you registered for the meeting online; you used email, Twitter, or LinkedIn, to set up meetings with colleagues ahead of time; maybe you even used Uber for your ride in from the airport. Those and other tools have enriched our lives but also changed how we think about, design, benefit from, and enjoy annual meetings.
My personal memories of the meeting this year included some spectacular plenary lectures (who knew about WikiPearl™ foods?), great sessions on protein delivery, learning more about pharmacokinetics in dogs, and listening in on a great Women in Science lunch session. But, as always, the connections and reconnections—whether at Kitty O’Sheas in the Hilton, over incredible tapas at Mercat a la Planxa just next door, or an enjoyable trip down memory lane at the Tuesday President’s Banquet where all in attendance tested their knowledge of CRS history—are at the heart of the CRS Annual Meeting.
So my first request to you is to help think about making ours the best annual meeting. You likely noticed that attendance was down—a trend throughout most industries as an effect of the global economy over the last six years but also a reflection of how we now all obtain data and collaborate. The request is a simple one: provide feedback. As someone eloquently said to me at the meeting, “Help design a conference you wouldn’t miss!”
As I mentioned, I have attended 22 CRS Annual Meetings. For 20 of those, a primary purpose of attending for me was being an exhibitor. Our exhibitors are primarily from the industrial sector, an important part of CRS both today and historically. Everyone attends the CRS Annual Meeting for great science; our industrial attendees are also thinking about products and customers (as are many academic attendees). So my second request is this: because the Board has a priority this year of increasing industrial relevance, provide ideas on how we can do this for you.
CRS is a year-round organization, but our signature event remains our annual meeting. There are many people to thank and acknowledge, and here is a partial list. Past presidents Sandy Florence and Diane Burgess were acknowledged for years of scientific leadership and service, Sandy through the CRS Foundation’s 2014 postdoctoral fellowship in his honor and Diane as the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award. Ian Tucker completed his term as president in Chicago; he has provided many years of leadership, culminating in his very successful tenure and setting up CRS for years of future success. Many, many volunteers make CRS work throughout the year and produce a successful annual meeting, in particular the Annual Meeting Program Committee, chaired for Chicago by Ick Chan Kwon and cochaired by Justin Hanes. Also, you may know them as Susan or Linda or Megan or Sue or Amy, but a hearty thank you to our headquarters staff who work tirelessly throughout the year, especially around the annual meeting.
If you have any concerns on the future of CRS, just attend a student event, which I got to enjoy on Monday night in Chicago. Then you will be quite comfortable with the next generation of CRS leaders!
With a great Board I look forward to this coming year. In this note you see two of our major objectives: building on years of successful annual meetings to make future annual meetings even better, and reaching out to and increasing relevance for the industry of delivery science.
As we look forward to a wonderful meeting next July in Edinburgh, I am starting a collection of relevant jokes and close with one here:
Question: When you see people playing the bagpipes, why are they always marching?
Answer: They are trying to get away from the noise.