Message from the Chair: Fall 2021 Meeting

Dear Members of the DPS Community:

I am excited to announce that we will hold the second virtual DPS meeting on Oct 3-8, 2021. I thoroughly enjoyed last year’s meeting, and we’re taking the lessons and experience we’ve gained to refine and hone this year’s conference. We will bring all the coolest and most cutting-edge planetary science to you wherever you are, and we’ll be bringing even more opportunities for scientific discussions and opportunities to connect with your colleagues. Also, we’ll augment this year’s annual meeting with asynchronously scheduled professional development workshops intended to smooth career transitions and foster new opportunities.

As you can imagine, the decision to go virtual was complex, and we arrived at it after lengthy consideration of the best available information we had at the time of the decision deadline (which was April 22, 2021) and our parent society’s strong recommendation to go virtual. You can find a set of charts documenting our decision-making process and constraints here. In charting this course, our guiding principle has been to think about the values that we hope to achieve with the meeting, and how best to express them in a time of continued uncertainty and worldwide crisis. While the virtual format is different, my heart is lifted by the strength and creativity of our community as we forge this new path to sharing our science and supporting each other.

We greatly appreciate the feedback we received on last year’s meeting through our exit survey. The results revealed unsurprisingly that our community is adaptable and adopts new technology readily. The vast majority saw strengths in the virtual format. We are also beginning to explore with AAS the possibilities for a financially viable hybrid meeting model that makes content equally available to those attending in-person and remotely, for future DPS meetings.

Some truly great things came out of our first virtual meeting: we had more than triple the number of students attending, and we had participants from a much wider array of countries than ever before. By going virtual, we will be saving the carbon equivalent to 3 million airmiles. Moreover, here are a few of the comments we received:

This was probably the most accessible DPS ever.

As a hard-of-hearing person, the transcripts of talks & ability to rewind/pause talks were revolutionary for me.

This is the most science I have ever gotten out of DPS. Is this how non-disabled people feel after a meeting?

I have never asked a question at a conference before. I found the Slack system to be quite liberating and I felt like there was no stopping me.

Also new in the last year is a fund ( to support underrepresented communities in planetary science to attend the DPS meeting and the annual meeting of the National Society of Black Physicists. The fund has been seeded by an initial contribution from DPS, and it has been great to see that it’s already been matched by our members and partners. The DPS will continue to grow the fund, and we thank you for your continued support of it as well as the Niebur ( and Hartmann ( funds.

As travel in the United States slowly begins to resume, I hope that the first trips our members make will include long-delayed visits with their loved ones. If we can better support our members dealing with the COVID crisis either domestically or abroad, please reach out to [email protected]. Meanwhile, stay safe, and please come join us and support your community on October 3-8, 2021 at the 2nd DPS virtual meeting!


Updated 2 June 2021