Call for Ignite ESA Proposals

Downtown Sacramento on a sunny day.

99th ESA Annual Meeting
Sacramento, California
August 10 – 15, 2014

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 21, 2013

Any proposals sent by email or after the deadline will NOT be considered.

All ESA Annual Meeting proposal and abstract deadlines are 5:00 PM Eastern so that technical support and ESA staff assistance will be immediately available when submitters need it. If you begin your submission very close to the deadline, you are choosing to take a risk and we will NOT make an exception if you don’t complete your submission in time. The form automatically closes at 5:00 EST / 2:00 PST whether you have completed your submission or not. 

About Ignite ESA Sessions

We invite proposals for Ignite ESA Sessions for the 99th ESA Annual Meeting. The meeting will be held August 10 – 15, 2014 in Sacramento, California at the Sacramento Convention Center.

Ignite ESA is intended to stimulate the exchange of new and exciting ideas in a short time period. Ignite ESA Sessions will be scheduled for 90 minutes and consist of between six and ten 5-minute talks presented in the Ignite style which address a common theme. Each Ignite talk will feature 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. Although there will be no time scheduled between individualpresentations for questions and answers, the remainder of the session time (typically at least 40 minutes) will be used for extended discussion.

Each session should be organized around a general theme that is related to the advancement of ecology, either conceptually or technologically. Ignite ESA Sessions are intended to complement the traditional scientific program. These sessions will provide an opportunity for ecologists to share information with their colleagues that would not fit into the usual session types. The more concise speaking slot and rapid slide transitions lend themselves to a more conversational and storytelling presentation style. Given 5 minutes to speak and brief visual aides, what would you share with other ecologists? What would you most like to learn from your colleagues?

Possible session themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Recent advances in traditional topics – what are the new ideas and findings in the field that are not yet well enough developed for a traditional paper session?
  • Points and counterpoints from the discipline – is there an idea you are passionate about that is being overlooked? Or overvalued?
  • Stumbling blocks and problems within the field – are there insights you could share with up and coming ecologists based on your own experiences?
  • How to guides and toolkits – have you learned how to use an emerging technology of interest to ecologists (software, hardware, social media) and can share a brief introduction?
  • Themes that spark new ideas among disciplines – what should ecologists be aware of from other disciplines?

The program committee will schedule these sessions concurrently with the other scientific oral sessions. Ignite ESA sessions will be scheduled in morning or afternoon timeslots on either side of the coffee break.

Potential timeslots are:

8:00 – 9:30 AM, Tuesday through Friday
10:00 – 11:30 AM, Tuesday through Friday
1:30 – 3:00 PM, Monday through Thursday
3:30 – 5:00 PM, Monday through Thursday

As with all session types, accepted sessions will be scheduled to minimize topic overlap and to avoid any direct conflicts for people participating in multiple sessions. For example, if you are speaking in an Ignite ESA session and a contributed oral session, your talks will not be scheduled at the same time. Session scheduling will be sent to all organizers by mid-late February.

Click here to see an example of an Ignite session from the format’s inaugural year. To see other examples, please browse the online program from the 2013 Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About the Ignite Format

The links in this section are highly recommended reading and viewing for anyone considering submitting an Ignite ESA session, as well as any speakers they invite to participate. Ignite talks will require different preparation than typical ESA presentations. Some differences to keep in mind:

  • A presenter will only have time to make 1 or 2 main points that are explained or supported by the slides. It may be best to show one data slide, and use the remaining slides to briefly introduce the idea and explain the rationale and consequences of the main point
  • The slides are not visible long enough to be a major focus of the presentation. The slides should support what you’re saying, not say what you’re supporting.
  • Slides should focus more on quick, powerful visual impressions than on details. If you’re including complex figures or more than a couple of simple bullet points then you’re saying too much on the slides.
  • Data intensive slides are very likely to give a speaker significant trouble pacing their slides.
  • The slides will advance every 15 seconds whether the speaker has said everything they meant to say on the current slide or not. Assume no more than three sentences for each slide (two is better). Practicing the timing is critical in order to avoid chasing the slides.
  • Assume your first and last slides (and therefore, 15 seconds) are mostly for introducing your topic and wrapping it up, respectively.
  • We’ll say it again: practice is even more important for the Ignite format than it is for traditional scientific presentations.
  • Don’t let these differences intimidate you! Just be sure to prepare for them. If you have a topic in mind, just laying the big idea out rapidly is very satisfying.

Please note that unlike the Ignite events featured on their website and described in these links, ESA will not be recording these sessions.

Some example of effective talks on various subjects that use the Ignite format:

Evaluation Process and Criteria

Proposals for Ignite ESA Sessions are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with peers s/he may invite to assess proposals. Proposals may be from any area of science related to ecology, but those that pertain to the overall theme, “From Oceans to Mountains: It’s All Ecology,” are especially encouraged. We also welcome proposals that explore connections with the social or natural sciences, or that are directed to ecological education at any level. The primary criteria for acceptance include scientific merit, probable interest by meeting attendees, a clearly written and compelling description, a list of 6-10 speakers with a majority of them confirmed, and a strong fit between this unique session style and the topic to be addressed. If less than 10 speakers are finalize for a session, the Program Chair may add Ignite speakers to fill the session time. Limits of space and time may make it impossible to accommodate all worthy submissions. The Program Chair has final authority for acceptance and scheduling for any proposed Ignite ESA session.

Session and presentation rules

The One Presentation Rule does not apply to Ignite ESA talks; i.e., speakers may speak in an Ignite session in addition to a traditional presentation elsewhere in the program. We ask that speakers not commit to more than one Ignite presentation, however.

In addition, organizers and moderators are not precluded from involvement in another session of any type. We do ask that organizers and moderators not propose involvement in more than one Ignite ESA session.

The moderator of a session may not serve as a speaker in the session. The organizer of a session may speak in the session or serve as its moderator. 

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

All submitters will be notified of acceptance decisions by January 16, 2014. After sessions are accepted and the scheduling for the meeting is underway, cancellations and schedule changes are very disruptive to meeting planning. Hence, session organizers should obtain firm commitments from as many of their invited speakers as possible before submitting their proposal.

If a proposal is accepted, the organizer(s) must submit a final summary description and confirmed speaker list for the session to the Program Coordinator by February 1. This summary will appear on the meeting website and should be written so as to stimulate interest and promote attendance by a general audience, and thus is different in focus from the description in the original proposal. This final summary must include a complete and current listing of organizers’ names, affiliations, and email addresses; a 250 word description of the session; a single-sentence (up to 50 words) description of the session; and a final, confirmed speaker list (name, affiliation, and email address).

Organizers will be informed of their session’s time and date in February. Sessions will be scheduled for a 1.5 hour timeslot.

The program committee will attempt to avoid any overt conflicts between sessions and will give organizers an opportunity to notify us of known scheduling conflicts; however, we are unable to honor special scheduling requests. Organizers should inform their invited speakers that scheduling on any day of the conference is possible when asking speakers to commit to the session. We cannot schedule or move a session to accommodate the availability of speakers.

It is the responsibility of the session organizers to see that each speaker submits an individual description of his/her talk through the Abstract Submission site by the February 27 deadline. The Ignite abstract is short – only 100 words of less. Speakers who fail to submit an abstract on time will be removed from the session. Please note that unlike the 2013 conference, the Ignite abstract deadline is the same as the contributed abstract deadline this year.

All organizers will be notified of the acceptance of their proposal by January 16, 2014 and the day and time of their session by February 13, 2014. If accepted, your session description will be posted on the annual meeting website and the summary sentence will appear in the printed program. The description and summary sentence should be written with particular attention to attracting attendees and submitted in the correct format through the proposal submission form.

Communication With Speakers

If a proposal is accepted as a session, it is very important that the organizer communicates with speakers between December and August about the acceptance status of the session, the confirmation status of speakers, abstract requirements and deadlines, session scheduling information, and expectations for participation in the conference. It is ultimately the organizer’s responsibility to make sure all of the abstracts for the session are received by the abstract deadline.

Please note that ESA is not able to provide any financial assistance, stipends, free or reduced registration, travel assistance, or paid lodging to symposium organizers or to individual symposium participants. All speakers are required to register for the conference. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to their speakers.

Cancellation Policy

For Session Organizers

Once an Ignite ESA session has been accepted and listed online, cancellation imposes a serious burden. Do not submit a proposal if you are uncertain that you will be able to fulfill your obligation to organize and conduct the session. Once a session is accepted by the Program Chair, cancellation by the session organizers will preclude the organizers from being allowed to submit any proposals for sessions for the 2015 ESA Annual Meeting.

For Speakers

Before submitting an abstract, authors should be confident that they will attend the meeting and make the presentation.

If circumstances prevent attendance for a scheduled presentation, the presenting author should attempt to find another person to make the presentation on their behalf. A coauthor is ideal, but the substitute speaker does not necessarily need to be a coauthor. If you have arranged for a replacement speaker after May 15, you do not need to notify ESA and we cannot update the program. Please notify the session organizer.

If cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify Jennifer Riem by email as soon as possible. Please let us know if you will not be able to present, even if you are cancelling on a date close to or during the Annual Meeting. If you are cancelling after May 1 and would like us to consider waiving the applicable penalties, please include a brief reason for the cancellation.

The deadline for cancellation without risk of penalty is May 1, 2014. For more information on ESA’s cancellation policy, continue reading through the next section.

Penalties and Fees for Cancellations/No-Shows

Late cancellations and failures to give scheduled presentations (no shows) are disruptive and leave costly gaps in the program that are distracting to all attendees. Therefore, ESA has adopted the following cancellation policy and fee schedule (all values are in US dollars):

ESA’s late cancellation and no show policy:

  • In all cases where cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify Jennifer Riem by email as soon as possible.
  • The deadline to cancel without penalty is May 1, 2014. After May 1, 2014 authors are charged a late cancellation fee.
  • After May 15, 2014, authors are charged a late cancellation fee and banned from presenting at the 2014 conference.
  • Presenting authors who do not notify ESA of cancellation and fail to present at the scheduled time (no shows) are at risk for the late cancellation fee and a 2 year presentation ban (2014-2015).
  • The late cancellation fee is $60.00 US Dollars for oral presentations and $40.00 US Dollars for poster presentations.

Exceptions: Cancellation fees and penalties may be waived for extenuating circumstances. Consideration will be made on a case by case basis. Please include a brief reason for the cancellation if you would like us to consider waiving the applicable penalties.Fees for cancellations will be processed and decisions regarding bans from future meetings will be made after the Annual Meeting.

Important Dates

November 21, 2013Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
January 16, 2013Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
February 13, 2014Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.
February 27, 2014Deadline for speakers to submit abstracts.

To Submit

Proposal Format

Please note that the information listed below must be entered on the website proposal submission form. It is provided here only to assist you in planning your submission. The website format may differ slightly from the format listed here. All information requested must be submitted.

 Components of an Ignite ESA Session Proposal

  • Title of the session
  • Principal organizer (Name, institution or affiliation, email) Note that this person is the point of contact for the session.
  • Co-organizers (Names, institutions or affiliations, email).
  • Moderator (Name, institution or affiliation, email). The moderator may not serve as a speaker in the session.
  • Description (< 400 words) of the session: The description should focus on the theme and structure of the session as a whole. What is the big picture?
  • Justification (< 250 words): The justification should describe why the topic is expected to be of interest to ESA attendees and why the topic would be a good fit for the Ignite format.
  • Summary sentence (50 word max.)
  • 6-10 Speakers (Names, affiliations, emails, and tentative titles or topic areas). No fewer than 6 and no more than 10 speakers should be listed at the proposal stage. Indicate which speakers are confirmed and which are tentative.
  • Is the session intended to be connected with another proposed session or business meeting? If so, which one?

When you submit your proposal on the website submission form, you will be automatically notified of receipt by an email sent to the address that you provide. If you do not receive such a notification, please contact Program Coordinator Jennifer Riem at to confirm that your proposal was received. Organizers of accepted proposals will be notified in February regarding the date and time for their sessions at the Annual Meeting. Organizers are responsible for notifying all participants in their session of the date, time, and place of the session.

You MUST submit your proposal using the website proposal submission form. You will be notified electronically concerning receipt, review, and acceptance of your proposal, using the return e-mail address that you provide. The notice of receipt will include a reference number that you will need to retain. If the return email address is incorrect, you will not be notified. If you do not hear from the Program Chair or the Program Coordinator regarding receipt of your proposal by December 5, 2013, please contact Jennifer Riem to confirm that your proposal was received. You may view your proposal by accessing the website and entering your proposal number. The website and proposal number will be provided to you when we acknowledge receipt of your proposal.

A list of accepted Ignite ESA sessions will be available on the ESA website when registration opens (typically in April). As a courtesy, organizers should plan to notify all speakers/scheduled participants of the date, time, and place of the session once the information is available in February.

Link To Submission Form


Dr. Hal Balbach
US Army Corps of Engineers
PO Box 9005 Champaign, IL 61826-9005
Phone: 217-373-6785

Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036 USA
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218