This year’s annual meeting will be held 10-14 June 2013 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Thessaloniki is Greece’s second largest city, with over a million inhabitants in the metropolitan area, has a long history, dating back to 315 BC, when it was founded by Cassander of Macedon. The city is home to numerous notable sites, including a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2013, National Geographic selected Thessaloniki as one of its top tourist destinations worldwide. The meeting at the Conference Center of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall site located at 25 Martiou Street, where Maritou meets the waterfront, immediately next to the Posidonio Athletic Centre. This center, opened in 2000, has two main buildings: BioEM2013 will be in M2, a contemporary style building designed by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. With a superb view to the sea, M2’s three levels are joined in a foyer whose sophisticated aesthetics fill the space with natural light.
In addition to a wide range of plenary, platform, and poster presentations, this year’s meeting features the presentation of the highest award of The Bioelectromagnetics Society to past president Frank Prato of the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
Then, during the Annual Business Meeting on Thursday, June 13, 2013, there will be two sets of changes to the governing documents for The Bioelectromagnetics Society for members to consider and vote upon. The first of these was proposed by the BEMS Board and the second was proposed by members of BEMS. Proposed changes to the bylaws voted on during the meeting, and changes to the constitution will be voted on electronically after the Annual Business Meeting.
The first proposed changes would lead to a smaller Board, with every member having a defined role, and the two-tier system of officers and others removed. Proponents of these changes claim that this would be more conducive to the modern requirements of running our Society.
Specifically the first proposal would:
- Unify the periods of office of President, Treasurer & Secretary to each be 3-years in total, each with one-year “-elect” overlap (as currently with Treasurer-elect & Vice President), with the elections to the posts staggered. The President would then serve for two years and the Past-president role would vanish. The Treasurer would serve one year as Treasurer-elect and then two as Treasurer rather than one year as Treasurer-elect and then three years as Treasurer, as it is now. If approved, it would mean that we would elect a new President every other year, with the Treasurer & Secretary both being elected in the intermediate year.
- Remove the formal distinction between officers and the rest of the Board. If approved this would mean that everyone on the Board would be a Director and no one would be identified separately as an officer. Proponents of this proposal claim that this would help with Board unity and also encourage Board members to participate in the day-to-day running of the organization. It would also remove any differentiation in support to attend meetings.
- Reduce “other” Board member/Director numbers to three, one to be elected each year. This change would help to focus and sharpen the Board while retaining the current 3-year election cycle.
The first proposal would result in a Board of eight or nine people, which the proposers claim is a more appropriate size for our Society and more suited to focused decision-making. Two or three people new people would be elected onto the Board each year. This transition would take place over the natural three year election cycle so that no one currently elected would see a change to their term in office. The President elected this year would be the last to become Past President, and the President elected in 2014 would be the first to serve as President for two years. The proposed transition would be complete by 2016.
The second proposal makes explicit the composition and role of the Technical Program Committee by specifying that the Board appoint the Technical Program Committe Chair and appoint experts in their respective fields to review all submissions for the Annual Scientific Meeting, specifying that the majority of these experts not be BEMS or EBEA members.
This proposal was made by a BEMS member not current on the Board, and endorsed by ten other current BEMS members. The proposer noted that “ When I received the announcement of the Board’s amendments I realized that the previous Board positions for Engineering/Physical Sciences and Biological/Medical science were being eliminated. These 9 Board members played an important role with the Technical Program Committee (TPC)). The unintended consequence was that there was no definition of the TPC and it was not clear who on the Board would perform this role.
[The proposed changes] codify what already exist[s] but was not defined. Having a majority of submission reviewers who are not members of BEMS or EBEA has been the reality for some time. For the upcoming meeting there were over 300 submissions. With 3 reviewers per submission it is a practical impossibility for a majority to be BEMS or EBEA members.
There are secondary advantages. Outside reviews bring fresh perspectives to the submission and because they are unlikely to know most of the submission authors, and to not be connected with the inner workings of either organization. However, it is important to note that the outside reviews [would be] selected by BEMS members of the TPC [if this proposal is accepted by BEMS members at the 2013 Annual Business Meeting].”