Call for Ignite ESA Proposals

100th ESA Annual Meeting
Baltimore, Maryland
August 9 – 14, 2015

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 20, 2014

Proposals that are incomplete or received 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 100th ESA Annual Meeting, “Ecological Science at the Frontier: Celebrating ESA’s Centennial.” 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 individual presentations for questions and answers, the remainder of the session time (typically at least 30 minutes) will be used for extended discussion. Ignite sessions at ESA are not recorded.

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.

Ignite sessions may be scheduled for the follow timeslots:

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 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento.

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 Ignite sessions.

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

Proposal Format

  • Session title
  • Name and contact information (name, affiliation, email) for the lead organizer and any co-organizers
  • Moderator (name, institution, email). The moderator may not serve as a speaker in the session.
  • Session description (< 250 words) of the session. The description should focus on the theme and structure of the session as a whole. What is the big picture? This will appear online only.
  • Session 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. This will only be used for proposal review.
  • Summary sentence (50 word max.). This will appear in the print program only.
  • 6-10 confirmed speakers (names, institutions, emails, and tentative talk titles).
  • Is the session intended to be linked to another scientific session? If so, which one, and how?
  • Is the session intended to be linked to a business meeting or mixer? If so, which one, and how?

Review 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, “Ecological Science at the Frontier: Celebrating ESA’s Centennial,” 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 confirmed speakers, and a strong fit between this unique session style and the topic to be addressed. 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.

Other Details To Consider

In the interest of broadening participation, an individual is allowed to be the lead organizer for only one Ignite session.

The moderator of an Ignite session must be someone who is not a speaker in that symposium (they may speak in another session). An organizer of an Ignite session may serve as its moderator or one of its speakers, but not both.

Speakers who commit to speaking in an Ignite sessions should be aware that Ignite sessions are exempt from the one presentation rule. Anyone who is the presenter in the session may also present in another scientific session (symposium, organized oral, organized poster, contributed talk, contributed poster). The speaker may not however give more than one Ignite presentation.

If Your Proposal Is Accepted

After acceptance decisions have been made and the scheduling for the meeting is underway, cancellations and schedule changes are very disruptive to meeting planning. It is therefore very important that symposium organizers obtain firm commitments from their invited speakers before submitting their proposal.

If a proposal is accepted, the organizer will be required to submit an up to date version of the session details and confirmed speaker list in January.

Organizers will be informed of their session’s time and date in mid February. Symposia may be scheduled for any oral session timeslot between Monday afternoon and Friday morning. 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 (strictly defined as conflicts between accepted sessions).

Communication With Speakers

If a proposal is accepted as a session, it is very important that the organizer communicates with speakers between January 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. Here are a few details that all speakers should know up front. Miscommunication about them can disrupt session planning later in the process.

We are unable to honor scheduling requests. When asking speakers to commit to the session, organizers should inform them that the session could be scheduled any day Monday through Friday. We cannot schedule or move a session to accommodate the availability of speakers.

Speakers who fail to submit an abstract on time will be removed from the session. It is the responsibility of the session organizer to make sure each speaker submits an abstract for his/her talk using the unique link that will be emailed to each speaker in January. And this starts with making sure all of your speakers are aware of the deadline early on.

All speakers are required to register for the conference. Registration will not be waived or reduced for any speaker. We greatly appreciate the contributions of invited speakers, but due to the number of organized sessions, we typically invite over 800 speakers each year. ESA is not able to provide any financial assistance, stipends, free or reduced registration, travel assistance, or paid lodging to session organizers or to individual symposium participants. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to their speakers.


For Session Organizers

Once a Symposium 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 2016 ESA Annual Meeting.

For Presenters

Instructions for how to cancel are included in all notification emails sent to presenters. Presenters should reply to any of those emails to cancel.

Late Cancellations And No Shows

The deadline for cancellation without risk of penalty is May 1. Cancellations after May 1 (late cancellations) and failures to give scheduled presentations without any notice (no shows) are disruptive and leave gaps in the program that are a source of frustration for attendees. Therefore, ESA enforces the following penalties for avoidable situations which result in gaps in the meeting program.

Before submitting an abstract, presenters should be reasonably confident that they will attend the meeting and make the presentation as scheduled. Presenters in uncertain funding situations should cancel by May 1 or be prepared to pay the late cancellation fee.

Late Cancellations (after May 1)

The late cancellation fee is $50 USD for all presentation types (invited and contributed, posters and talks). It applies only to the presenting author, not to any coauthors.

No Shows

The no show penalty is a one year presentation ban, regardless of presentation type (posters and talks). Any abstract with the penalized author listed as the presenting author will not be accepted for the following year’s conference. This penalty applies only to the presenting author, not to any coauthors. The ban is for presenting a formal talk or poster only. The presenting author can still organize a session, be listed as a coauthor, and attend the conference.

Extenuating circumstances

We realize that sometimes unforeseen events outside of a presenter’s control prevent them from presenting as scheduled. For example, a flight cancellation, medical condition, or family emergency.  A presenter in such a situation should reply to any of the notification emails sent to presenters. Messages and notes passed in person on the meeting site are highly unreliable! Email is by far the best method for letting us know what has happened. We may not be able to respond during the conference but we will save all such messages for processing after the conference.

The late cancellation and no show penalties will not be applied to presenters with understandable and unavoidable reasons for not attending the conference (medical issues, family emergencies, unforeseen travel problems, difficulty acquiring a visa for travel to the US, and similar situations outside of a presenter’s control). Late cancellations due to a presenter’s inability to secure funding to attend, starting a new job, or other scheduling conflicts are considered avoidable.

If a cancellation is unavoidable, the author should notify ESA 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 when you contact us.  We realize that in the cases of no shows, sometimes a presenter’s immediate problems cannot be communicated to ESA staff until after the scheduled presentation time has passed. We will be lenient for such situations if we receive some sort of explanation from the presenter, even if the message is sent after the presentation would have occurred. For other cases, where there is not a compelling reason and no notice was received, the no show penalty will be enforced.

Replacement speakers

A replacement speaker is allowed (and encouraged) if your plans change close to the conference dates. 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 because we cannot update the program. However, please notify session organizers if applicable.

Important Dates

November 20, 2014 Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.
January 15, 2015 Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.
February 12, 2015 Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.
February 26, 2015 Deadline for speakers to submit abstracts.

To Submit

You must submit your proposal using the online submission form. Proposals sent by email will not be considered. When you submit your proposal, 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. You will be able to return to the proposal to edit it until the submission deadline has passed. Information on how to do so will be included in the automated email.

Link To Submission Form


Dr. Carol Brewer
Prairie Ecotone Research Group, LLC
PO Box 1135
Berthoud CO 80513

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