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Call for Ignite ESA Session Proposals

98th ESA Annual Meeting
Minneapolis, Minnesota
August 4 - 9, 2013

Call Open: late September - November 29, 2012

We invite proposals for a new session type, Ignite ESA, which will debut during the 98th ESA Annual Meeting to be held August 4-9, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Ignite ESA is a new type of session intended to stimulate the exchange of new and exciting ideas in a short time period. Ignite ESA Sessions will be scheduled for 1 hour and consist of up to 10 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 during the session for questions and answers, there will be a designated space nearby where presenters and attendees will be encouraged to gather for extended discussion immediately after each session.

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 quick slide transitions lend themselves to a more conversational and storytelling presentation style. Given 5 minutes to speak and brief visual aids, 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 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.

The program committee will schedule these sessions at prominent times (during the daytime on weekdays, ideally in the morning) to promote attendance. We are waiting to gauge community interest in the session type before determining the exact scheduling slots. 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.

Proposals must be submitted on or before November 29, 2012, using the online submission site at

  1. About The Ignite Format
  2. Evaluation Process and Criteria
  3. Submission Procedure
  4. One Presentation and Organizer Limit Rules
  5. If Your Proposal is Accepted
  6. Cancellation Policy
  7. Application Format
  8. Critical Dates and Deadlines
  9. Submit Proposal Here


A. 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.
  • The slides will advance every 15 seconds whether the speaker has said everything they meant to say on the current slide or not. 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.


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

The Ignite website
How and why to give an Ignite talk
How to give a successful Ignite talk
How to give a great Ignite talk

Some example of effective talks on various subjects that use the Ignite format:
On being a refugee
Why is math cool?
The 22 minute meeting
How to buy a new car
Social hacking with spatial data

B. 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, “Sustainable Pathways: Learning From the Past and Shaping the Future,” 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 8-10 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.

C. Submission Procedure
All proposals MUST follow the format of the online proposal submission form. Incomplete or inaccurate information provided on these forms may result in the proposal not being accepted. Information requested includes complete contact information for all co-organizers; a description (250 word maximum); a summary sentence (<50 words); a session justification; and a list of 8-10 speakers with their topics/titles. The session 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.

All sessions must have a lead organizer who serves as the primary contact and a moderator who will run the session. ESA will provide instructions and support for organizers moderators. Previous experience with Ignite presentations is not necessary, only a willingness to learn about the format in advance and manage the session in Minneapolis if it is accepted. The lead organizer should be readily available by email and phone in the months leading up to the meeting and is expected to be present at the meeting. A secondary contact is also required.

All speakers will be required to submit a short description (less than 100 words) of their presentation by the February 21, 2013 abstract submission deadline. The organizer is responsible for ensuring that all of the descriptions are received by this date.

D. One Presentation and Organizer Limit Rules
Note that the One Presentation Rule does not apply to Ignite ESA sessions. Presenters in these sessions are not precluded from also being the presenting author of a poster or contributed oral, organized oral, or symposium talk. We do 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 unless they are already experienced with this format.

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.

E. If Your Proposal Is Accepted
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 in January. 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 and their affiliations, addresses, telephone and fax numbers, 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.

Organizers will be informed of their session’s time and date by February. Sessions will be scheduled for a 1 hour timeslot. The program committee considers these sessions models of the new session format and will schedule them at prominent times (during the daytime on weekdays, ideally in the morning) to promote interest and attendance. We are waiting to gauge community interest in the session type before determining the exact scheduling slots available.

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 21 deadline. Speakers who fail to submit an abstract on time will be removed from the session.

All organizers will be notified of the acceptance of their proposal by January 17, 2013 and the day and time of their session by February 14, 2013. 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.

F. Cancellation Policy
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 2014 ESA Annual Meeting.

G. Application 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 (< 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?
  • 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.)
  • 8-10 Speakers (Names, affiliations, emails, and tentative titles or topic areas). No less than 8 and no more than 10 speakers should be listed at the proposal stage. Indicate which speakers are confirmed and which are tentative. Organizers of accepted sessions will be encouraged to fill all 10 speaker slots in advance of the Feb. 21 abstract deadline.
  • Is the session intended to be connected with another proposed session? If so, which one?
  • Is the session linked to a business meeting or mixer of any ESA Section, Chapter, or other group? 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 6, 2012, 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 late 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.
H. Critical Dates and Deadlines
November 29, 2012: Deadline to submit Ignite ESA session proposals.
December 6, 2012: Contact Jennifer Riem if you have not received confirmation of your submission.
January 17, 2013: Notification of proposal acceptance sent to organizers.
February 14, 2013: Notification of date, time, and location of Ignite ESA sessions sent to organizers.
Late April, 2013 List of Ignite ESA sessions posted to ESA meeting site. Organizers should check time and location of their session and notify their scheduled participants.
For further information, consult the ESA web page ( or contact the Program Chair, Debra Peters or the Program Coordinator, Jennifer Riem.


Dr. Debra P. C. Peters
USDA ARS, Jornada Experimental Range
Jornada Basin Long Term Ecological Research Program
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, NM USA 88003
Phone: 575-646-2777
Fax: 575-646-5889
Jennifer Riem
Program Coordinator
Ecological Society of America
1990 M Street, NW, Suite 700
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: (202) 833-8773 x 218
Fax: (202) 833-8775