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PAA 2021 Recap and Reflections

By PAA Web posted 05-24-2021 13:21


by Robert A. Hummer & Marcy Carlson, Program Co-Chairs 

We are very pleased (and relieved) to report that PAA 2021 was a resounding success! Of course, when we were elected to serve as President and Vice-President of PAA, respectively, we never envisioned we would be organizing a virtual annual meeting…! But once the PAA Board of Directors made the smart decision to meet virtually instead of in-person, and did so with enough time available for us to plan ahead, we did our best to work with the PAA staff to put together the most scientifically engaging and well-organized meeting possible. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of the staff and many volunteer members of the association, the meeting turned out better than we could have imagined—given the context—for which we are very thankful.

To recap just a few statistics and highlights:

  • Registration for PAA 2021 was 2,672, which was higher than we expected and just short of PAA’s 2016 (DC) all-time record of 2,733.
  • Our Program Committee organized more than 280 paper, invited, and flash sessions. Attendance at sessions averaged about 50 people, which is a tremendous testament to the excitement of the sessions and the interest that PAA members took in attending them. A few sessions even drew more than 100 attendees.
  • We organized 7 poster sessions, which included nearly 800 individual posters. Our poster judges selected five poster winners from each session, and our poster discussants “visited” as many posters as they could during the course of the meeting. The membership was also very active visiting posters; some posters even received more than 100 visits!
  • As always at PAA, the Presidential Address and Awards Ceremony drew the largest number of attendees. We were all treated to Past-President Eileen Crimmins’ timely address and to the presentation of awards to some incredibly deserving individuals.
  • The PAA Memorial Service Committee, which included Dudley Poston, Kathi Tillman, and Jennie Brand, organized two very special evenings of remembrance for 37 demographers who passed away over the past two years.

The success of PAA 2021 is due in large part to PAA’s small but amazing staff, who worked extremely hard over the past year to make it all happen. We are not exaggerating to note that the staff had to basically re-imagine how PAA 2021 would work. With tremendous dedication, incredibly hard work, and late nights, they got it done. Thank you to Danielle Staudt, Bobbie Westmoreland, Betsy Alafoginis and Francesca Morton! Second, we owe immense thank-you’s to the many PAA members who served on the Program Committee, organized sessions, served as chairs or discussants, served as poster judges or poster discussants, and sent out tweets and messages to publicize PAA. All of your contributions are what helps make PAA the amazing association that it is. Finally, the previous co-organizers, Eileen Crimmins and Sara Curran, and the PAA Board of Directors provided us with much advice and support over the past year in helping to make our recent meeting a success.

Please note that all of the oral and flash sessions were recorded, and these videos are now posted on the conference platform and will stay up until October. Also, all posters are still online in the poster galleries. We encourage those who had registered for the meetings to go back and check out the sessions you had to miss, or to visit the posters you didn’t have time to see during the meeting! Also, please watch your email for a post-meeting survey that will be coming out soon, and we welcome your feedback.

It’s now time to turn to PAA 2022! Co-Chairs Sonalde Desai and Jennifer Van Hook are already hard at work with the PAA staff to plan the best PAA ever. We look forward to meeting again in-person! It will have been three full years without getting together, so it is easy to say that IT IS TIME. Please mark your calendars for April 6-9, 2022, in Atlanta, Georgia. The Call for Papers will be out soon!