Recently the SPD has alternated between "stand-alone" meetings and "affiliated" meetings (with either the AAS or AGU). Personally, I prefer the affiliated meetings over the stand-alone meetings. However, whenever I try to list my reasons, I can always hear possible objections:
PRO: Affiliated CON: Affiliated At affiliated meetings, our (solar) work attracts a wider audience of potential new students and collaborators... ...but these people may also be attracted to other fields that are competing for their attention. Solar physicists benefit by attending affiliated meetings, because we can see what is going on in related fields (such as the solar-stellar connection [AAS] or space physics [AGU])... ...but this may decrease attendance at SPD-specific sessions! More journalists actually show up at the press rooms of large AAS and AGU meetings... ...but solar physics stories must compete with other stories for the attention of the journalists.
I believe that the PROs outweigh the CONs, but I welcome debate on these issues. Perhaps our current 3-year rotation (two affiliated meetings and one stand-alone meeting) is a good balance.
At what kinds of location?
I greatly prefer meetings at or near academic/research institutions, rather than at resort locations. Many of us have limited travel budgets - both for ourselves and for students and postdocs - and resorts tend to be the most expensive destinations.
One of the main reasons for holding meetings near academic institutions, I've always thought, was so that the local graduate student population can attend easily. In an ideal world, meetings could "rotate through" all of the major universities and research institutes. This approach could attract more early-career students (who have not yet selected a research concentration) and possibly even a few mid-career students who are looking to switch thesis topics!
I know we all travel a lot, and many people prefer the variety and recreational amenities of resort locations. I just think that leaning a bit more towards the "practical side" could be better off for the field in the long run.
On what continent?
For similar practical reasons as above, I believe the continental U.S. and Hawaii should take precedence over possible trips to Europe or Asia. I'd advise skipping the AGU "affiliation" when their Spring Meeting coincides with that of the EGS.
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