As in 2020, our annual conference must again be virtual. While biomedical scientists have made great progress against the SARS-COV-2 pandemic, the distribution of vaccines worldwide is very uneven. Moreover, travel budgets at most organizations have been eliminated. The Fall of 2021 is therefore still too soon to return to an in-person annual conference. As we did last year, TDWG 2021 will be composed of webinar-style symposia, presentations, panel discussions, and virtual posters. We are again separating working sessions from the virtual conference, but in response to feedback from last year's conference, we will hold working sessions after the main conference. The main conference will be held over the week of October 18-22, and working sessions will be scheduled for the following month. The theme for this year's meeting will be:
Connecting the world of biodiversity data: standards uniting people, processes, and tools
The 2021 meeting will be hosted "virtually" by the University of Florida, Gainesville and its Florida Museum of Natural History, with Dr. Pam Soltis, Director of the University of Florida Biodiversity Institute, and Research PI for iDigBio, leading the hosting effort. Among the lessons learned from last year's conference is that virtual events still require a lot of work, so this year we will be using the University of Florida Conference Services group to help organize and manage TDWG 2021. We will have a modest registration fee for this virtual event (discounted for students and participants from lower middle-income countries). Abstracts for all contributions (oral presentations and virtual posters) will be published in our open access journal, Biodiversity Information Science and Standards. Unlike last year, publication costs will not be passed to authors, but defrayed by registration fees and conference sponsorships.
In the virtual conference week, we expect to have 3 or 4 sessions per day, with each session lasting 90-120 minutes, and with at least a 30 minute break between sessions. The time zone differences across our global community makes it unavoidable that some people will be have to participate in some sessions well outside their normal working hours. Still others might find that a highly relevant session has been scheduled in the middle of their night. To mitigate these scheduling difficulties, we will post the recorded presentations as quickly as we can.
The call for organized session proposals (symposia, panel discussions, etc.) was distributed 18 March.