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A special feature of the upcoming 2015 AAG annual meeting is the one-day Symposium on Physical Geography, scheduled for Thursday, April 23. The overall intent of the symposium is to raise the visibility of physical geography research at the AAG annual meeting, and provide additional networking opportunities to facilitate and enhance dialog among physical geographers on emerging developments, challenges, and approaches related to physical geography.

The symposium is also an experiment with alternative formats for physical geography sessions at future AAG annual meetings. Over the years there have been numerous informal conversations among members of the physical geography community regarding potential changes to the oral and poster sessions of the AAG annual meeting. Arguments have often been made for larger poster sessions and fewer oral sessions, under the expectation that these format changes would lead to increased session attendance and hence improved visibility within the discipline of the research efforts of individual physical geographers and enhanced popularity of the AAG annual meeting among physical geographers. Reference is often made to the formats of popular meetings of other geophysical-related scientific organizations, which typically include a small number of themed oral sessions that are selected by an organizing committee from proposals by members, with the majority of the attendees’ research contributions displayed in large poster sessions. Many of these arguments were raised again at the special session, Conversation on the Future of Physical Geography, held at the 2014 AAG annual meeting in Tampa. With these recommendations in mind, AAG past presidents Carol Harden, Richard Marston and Julie Winkler organized the one-day symposium as a modest, but manageable, effort to explore the potential for alternative session formats and implications for other components of the AAG annual meeting.

The Symposium on Physical Geography will feature two morning sessions of invited presentations around the theme, Environmental Reconstruction–A Nexus of Biogeography, Climatology and Geomorphology. This integrative research theme was selected as it cuts across the many facets of physical geography and encompasses the study of past climates, landscapes and biological systems, along with the reclamation of altered environments. The afternoon will be devoted to an extended poster session in a new mode, with up to 100 posters on display during the entire afternoon. Poster presentations are being solicited on all aspects of physical geography, including environmental reconstruction, and the posters will be grouped by theme and/or specialty group. Presenters will post the times next to their poster when they will be available for discussion with viewers, although they are encouraged to stand by their poster during at least a portion of the period from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The symposium will conclude with a happy hour from 4:30-7:30 p.m.

The symposium will be followed by a second Conversation on the Future of Physical Geography, scheduled for Friday, April 24, 11:45 a.m. At this time, attendees will have an opportunity to reflect on the symposium (both its strengths and weaknesses), consider whether this type of structure warrants further experimentation, and, if so, recommend strategies for selecting themes and symposia organizers for a 2016 Symposium on Physical Geography. The long-term goal is to develop meeting formats that support the careers of physical geographers and enhance physical geography within the AAG.

Physical geographers at all stages of their careers are strongly encouraged to submit an abstract for the Thursday afternoon poster session. The deadline for abstracts is November 5, 2014. Please indicate as a Special Request on the online abstract submission form your interest in being part of the Symposium on Physical Geography poster session, and email a copy of your abstract confirmation to Professor Carol Harden (charden [at] utk [dot] edu). Specialty groups are urged to co-sponsor the poster session, and to also use the poster session for some of their own activities such as student poster awards.

Updates on the Symposium on Physical Geography will be posted on the AAG website

and also communicated via the AAG Geogram. Please contact Carol Harden (charden [at] utk [dot] edu), Richard Marston (rmarston [at] k-state [dot] edu), or Julie Winkler (winkler [at] msu [dot] edu) with questions or suggestions for the Symposium on Physical Geography. We hope to see you in Chicago!