August is a big month for the SRS as it brings the first virtual SLEEP meeting. The APSS Program Committee chaired by Dr. Anne Germain has done a masterful and heroic job of converting the planned in-person SLEEP 2020 meeting into the virtual meeting that we will have the benefit of attending. Surely, we will miss the opportunities of catching up with friends and colleagues, but this new virtual format offers many compensating features. No longer will you be required to make decisions between sessions that are scheduled at the same time, nor will you be forced to run back and forth between sessions sometimes missing the beginning of a talk of great interest or not finding a seat. If you miss a talk, you can replay it later on your own schedule. You can also revisit a session or replay it with your trainees so you can discuss it together.
The virtual poster sessions also offer important benefits. Rather than having just an hour or two to navigate a hall with hundreds of posters while running into colleagues you are eager to talk to, you can visit any poster on your own schedule. You will see/hear a brief explanation of the poster by its author, and you will be given contact information to communicate questions or comments. All of the important features of APSS meetings will be available in SLEEP 2020: invited lectures by leading sleep and circadian researchers, planned symposia on important and interesting topics, meet the professor sessions, selected volunteered presentations, and other SRS opportunities, including Club Hypnos (but BYO drinks). Trainee Day has also taken a new shape and is currently underway allowing trainees to attend up to 28 sessions, rather than limiting them to four. Please register and attend SLEEP 2020 – a meeting that will keep giving after the official program comes to an end.
Mentioning Trainee Day brings me to call your attention to the recent approval by the SRS Board of a mission statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. This statement was created by the SRS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion chaired by Dr. Namni Goel, and will formally be presented later this month. Even excellent and worthy policy statements are just words on paper and without action they remain so. SLEEP 2020 is a great opportunity for all of us to take action and seek out URM and POC students/trainees with interests in sleep and circadian science. The APSS meeting is a great introduction to our field. You can also direct potential future sleep/circadian researchers to the SRS website to learn about the benefits membership in the SRS provides including seminars on career development, merit awards, trainee-mentor travel awards for learning new methods, GURU awards for advice on research proposals from past SRS presidents, career development awards, discounted fees for the APSS meeting and the small more intimate biannual Advances in Sleep and Circadian Sciences meeting. And, of course, the opportunity to interact with the membership of one of the most cordial societies representing special scientific interests.
I look forward to our virtual SLEEP 2020 meeting, and I hope to “see” you there.
Best wishes and sweet dreams,
Craig Heller, PhD