The organizers of the Fourth International Barcode of Life Conference issued calls for abstracts and applications for travel bursaries at the beginning of April 2011 and due to the high number of responses the deadlines were extended into July. By the time the last submissions arrived through the online system, the response totaled more than double those of previous barcode conferences. We received:
- 490 abstracts from 58 countries, and
- 225 applications for travel bursaries from 38 countries
The focus shifted immediately to the Program Committee which has responsibility for creating the scientific program for the conference and selecting recipients of travel support provided by the conference budget. The committee recruited about 50 volunteer session organizers that includes:
- Members of CBOL’s Executive Committee;
- Members of the Local Organizing Committee in Australia;
- Leading barcode researchers, especially in Australia;
- Members of CBOL’s Implementation Board, made up of leaders of CBOL Working Groups, barcoding campaigns, committees, and non-CBOL organizations such as iBOL, BOLD, and GenBank; and
- Leads and co-Leads of iBOL’s Working Groups.
CBOL created online systems that would make the enormous reviewing job easier for the Program Committee. A subcommittee immediately started reviewing applications for travel bursaries using the following criteria:
- Past involvement in barcoding projects through CBOL, iBOL and other projects;
- Past productivity in generating barcode data and publications;
- Plans for future involvement in barcoding projects; and
- The quality of abstracts submitted to the Adelaide Conference.
Fifteen applicants from 15 different countries have been selected for support in a first round of awards. The Program Committee has selected an additional 30 alternates for a waiting list. Fifteen of these alternates have been recommended to other funding sources that are considering their applications now. The Conference organizers continue to try to raise funds for travel bursaries and we hope to make a second round of travel awards in September.
Reviewing the abstracts is a more complicated task. Back in the spring, the Program Committee decided that the Conference should include a variety of session formats:
- A few plenary sessions with presentations of interest to the entire barcoding community;
- A half-day session with presentations of interest to different taxonomic communities (plants, vertebrates, invertebrates, and microbes, including fungi, protists and microalgae);
- Many smaller meetings in which specialists could exchange information and plan collaborative activities. These more technical sessions could focus on smaller taxonomic groups (e.g., fish, birds, insects) or thematic issues (e.g., informatics, environmental barcoding, or lab procedures).
For the past six weeks, session organizers and members of the Program Community have been reviewing abstracts for quality and relevance, and assigning them to the most appropriate session. At the outset of the process, session organizers were given complete freedom to decide the best use of their sessions. Some want to include as many oral presentations as possible, while others are assigning more abstracts to poster presentations so their meeting time can be used for discussion and planning.
The process of developing the agenda is almost finished. A Provisional Agenda will be posted on theConference website around 1 September. The Program Committee and session organizers hope you’ll find the agenda an exciting and innovative plan and they appreciate your patience as they complete their work.