Ignite-style Session Proposals

2017 ESA Annual Meeting
Portland, Oregon
August 6 – 11, 2017

Deadline: 5:00 PM Eastern (2:00 PM Pacific)
Thursday, November 17, 2016

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-style Sessions

We invite proposals for Ignite-style sessions for the 2017 ESA Annual Meeting. Ignite-style sessions are intended to stimulate the exchange of new and exciting ideas in a short time period. Ignite-style sessions will be scheduled for 90 minutes. These sessions consist of between six and ten 5-minute talks presented in the Ignite style and organized to address a common theme. Each Ignite-style 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-style 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-style 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, 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?

Click here to see an example of an Ignite-style session from last year’s meeting program. To see other examples, please browse the online program from the 2016 Annual Meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

What Is Ignite-style?

The links in this section are highly recommended reading and viewing for anyone considering submitting an Ignite-style session, as well as any speakers they invite to participate. Ignite-style 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-style 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 Ignite-style sessions.

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

Proposal Format

  • Session title.
  • A lead organizer (Required; name, institution, and email).
  • Co-organizers (Optional; name, institution, and email for each).
  • Moderator (Name, institution, email). The moderator may not serve as a speaker in this session. The organizer or a co-organizer may serve as moderator.
  • 6-10 Speakers (name, institution, email, and tentative talk title for each). Only speakers who have been contacted and have committed to the session should be listed.
  • Session description (< 250 words) of the session. The description should focus on the theme and structure of the session as a whole. The description should avoid overly specialized language. Any ecologist attending the meeting should be able to understand it. It will appear in the online program and be read by attendees deciding whether or not to attend the session.
  • 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 style. It should not simply repeat the description. The justification will only be used for proposal review – it does not appear in the final program.
  • Summary sentence (50 word max.). This is a very short version of the session description. It will appear in the print program.
  • 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-style sessions are reviewed and selected by the Program Chair in consultation with peers s/he may invite to assess proposals. 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.

Proposals may be from any area of science related to ecology, but those that pertain to the overall theme, “Linking Biodiversity, Material Cycling and Ecosystem Services in a Changing World” 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.  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-style session.

Session and presentation rules

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

An organizer of an Ignite-style session may serve as its moderator or one of its speakers, but not both.

Speakers who commit to speaking in an Ignite-style sessions should be aware that Ignite-style sessions are exempt from the one presentation rule. Anyone who is the presenter in an Ignite-style session may also present in another scientific session. Each speaker may not give more than one Ignite-style presentation, however.

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 session 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.

Session scheduling

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

Ignite-style 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-style 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.

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 early on 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 early February. It is important to make sure all of your speakers are aware of the abstract submission 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, waived or reduced registration, travel assistance, or paid lodging to speakers. Organizers are responsible for making this clear to their speakers early on when it is easier to replace speakers.


For session organizers

Once an Ignite-style 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 organizer may preclude the acceptance of any sessions proposed by the organizer for the 2018 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. More information about cancelling a presentation, including penalties, is explained in the cancellation policy.

Important Dates

November 17, 2016

 –Deadline for submitting a proposal to ESA.

January 12, 2017

 –Notification of acceptance sent to organizer.

January 26, 2017

  –Deadline to submit session revisions and confirmed speaker lists.

February 9, 2017

 –Notification of scheduling (session date and time) sent to organizer.

February 23, 2017

 –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 jennifer@esa.org 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.

Submission Forms


Dr. Christopher Swan
Program Chair
Geography & Environmental Systems
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Baltimore, MD 21250
Phone: (410) 455-3957
E-mail: Chris.Swan@umbc.edu

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