Editor's Note: The Bioelectromagnetics Society is well served by the many officers, members of the Board of Directors, Technical Program members, and other volunteers who worked long hours behind the scenes to keep BEMS going. In this newsletter, members can see a glimpse of the leadership past (almost), present, and future through the letters from three members who have or will be leading BEMS. Each year, members elect a new Vice President who becomes President after a year of participation on the Board of Directors. The outgoing President continues to serve on the Board of Directors for another year as Past President. Herewith, in chronological order, are notes from the members who will, in June, become (respectively) Past President, President, and Vice President.
Joachim Schüz (President 2011-12, Past President 2012-13)
Dear Members of the Bioelectromagnetics Society,
This edition of our Newsletter introduces the proposed changes for the constitution and the by-laws of the Society that were developed at the last Board of Directors meeting in Lyon. We think these are very important changes for the sustainability of the Society in the future and hope they find your support. Together with the other Board members I hope we explain the need for those changes well enough; if not, we are happy to consider your concerns and have established an e-mail address, email@example.com, to express your opinion. Your concerns will be summarized and presented at the Annual Business Meeting in Brisbane and summarized in an article in the next Newsletter for those who could not attend the meeting.
There are mainly two major changes. First, we need to change the modus of operation for the Board of Directors. Until now, decisions can only be made at face-to-face meetings, reducing options to make decisions to two time points every year, as extra meetings in a globally operating Society are not feasible and not affordable. The recent past has shown that this is not good enough and technology exists to have conferences by phone or Internet that allow voting and structured discussions. It is common practice in many research activities, so enabling also the Society to have more frequent decision-making meetings is very beneficial for faster response and action. In the long run, it may even replace the February Board meeting and therefore allows saving of considerable costs. Second, we propose a reduction of the Board size, again to save expenses but also to make the Board more operational. Then, every Board member will have a clear function in one of the committees or task forces and will be more actively involved in leading the Society. We propose a gradual decrease of the Board, so it will not be reduced immediately, but in operation in its final lean form from 2015 onwards. Please read the further details on the proposed changes very carefully.
This is the last editorial of my presidency and I would like to use it thanking three persons who contributed a lot to running the Society during this time period. The reason for doing it in this editorial is that I would like to do this on behalf of the Society, because I think they owe it, but me doing it shouldn’t stop you from thanking them individually.
The first is our Treasurer, Phil Chadwick, and the reason is very obvious from his detailed review of the Society’s financial situation in the last newsletter. While the Board and I executed some decisions, he provided the evidence, and I’m certain no treasurer before him spent so many hours not only collecting but understanding the money flow related to Society business. Without Phil’s dedication we would have run into a financial disaster. Only with a solid understanding of income and expenses future planning becomes feasible, but even more importantly we were able to stop continued spending of money the Society did not have. The second person is Jeff Carson, our Past President, but I like to thank him in his function as Chair of the Website committee. Nowhere it is said that the chair actually has to develop the website, but this is what he did and what he is still doing. The newly developed website, by the way, includes many functions not visible to everyone; for instance, the technical program committee uses the website for reviewing and rating abstracts and assigning presentations to sessions, saving a lot of work that was previously manually done. By supporting the website development Lawson became “secret platinum sponsor” of our Society and we urgently need a mechanism in place not to put more burden on them in the future, but it is also an unbelievable amount of hours of Jeff’s private time that went into this development. Not only the development, but also helping people having problems in navigating on the new homepage and responding to their complaints; and I really hope that those belonging to this group give Jeff a very special thanks at the meeting (he enjoys a cold beer, I know). The third person is Jonna Wilen, our Secretary. The first time I joined the Board the function of the Secretary was not well defined and more or less came done to writing the minutes of the Board meetings. This has certainly changed and Jonna set very high standards for this officer position: she initiated a number of policies from which the Society will benefit in the future, for instance all the preparation of the proposed changes of by-laws and constitution. The Society can only survive when there are enough Phils, and Jeffs, and Jonnas, and I hope the next president will be as lucky as me to have such outstanding support. If you think you are like one of them – please run for office or Board membership at the next election; as future chair of the Nomination Committee I would wish to have the choice of many applicants with high dedication to the Society.
David Black, MD (Vice President 2011-12, President 2012-13, Past President 2013-14)
At the Brisbane meeting, it will be my privilege to take over the presidency of BEMS for the following year. I look forward to working with past presidents Joachim Schüz and Jeff Carson and with President Elect Richard Nuccitelli. Under Joachim’s leadership, the Society has undergone substantial restructuring designed to take BEMS into a future where the traditional support for the Society is less certain, or (at best) different.
The Bioelectromagnetics Society is a strong and robust organization with a proud history. Virtually everybody who has been significantly involved in the biological aspects of electromagnetic has been to some extent connected with BEMS. The journal has attained high status in the field and the Annual Scientific Meeting remains the occasion of the year, bringing together a wide range of colleagues with both common interests and diverse views. BEMS is independent yet inclusive, rigorously based yet open minded.
In the past BEMS has been an essentially North American Society with an increasingly international outlook. I will work to keep it that way, not forgetting The Society’s roots and culture, which to me are both successful and important. The previous recent administrations have made some difficult decisions to transition BEMS to a sustainable basis. Part of these changes include proposed new governance structures which I hope will be accepted by members at the Annual Business Meeting at Brisbane.
As I take office, I am grateful that this hard and sometimes painful work has been done. My job will be to see in the new environment whilst protecting the heritage. The changes will include much more use of electronic meeting formats, which will result in more frequent remote interactions with greater resources released for the whole membership at the Annual Scientific Meeting.
We need to look carefully at the opportunities to bring allied workers and disciplines into The Society to assure its sustainability in an increasingly competitive world. From now on, starting with Brisbane, the BEMS Annual meetings will run on a stand-alone basis using local resources on delegation from the Board. I am pleased to report that payments already received for the Brisbane meeting are already well past break-even. Given the distance many people are having to travel to attend this meeting, and the generally difficult economic times around the world, this is very encouraging and bodes well for the future.
I look forward to meeting with as many of our members who are able to join us down-under in June.
Rich Nuccitelli (Vice President 2012-13, President 2013-14, Past President 2014-15)
As the newest President-Elect of BEMS I’d like to thank you for your support and assure you that I will work hard to lead The Society in a positive direction. We all want a vibrant professional society that publicizes our exciting discoveries and keeps us all informed of the latest breakthroughs. This takes hard work and resources that are all too scarce with fewer than 250 members.
My top priority is to increase our membership. We must make our yearly BEMS meeting the most exciting in our research area and attract new members who want to be kept abreast of the latest breakthroughs in bioelectromagnetics.
Think of all the great work in our field: 200 kHz, 1.5 V/cm fields have been approved by the FDA for treating brain cancer. Electrochemotherapy is being used in many hospitals across Europe to treat many different organ cancers. Microsecond and nanosecond pulsed electric fields are being used for soft tissue ablation. I would like BEMS to become the lead Society representing and promoting these medical applications of EMF. The majority of our current membership is conducting research in Epidemiology, Dosimetry and EMF Safety. My vision is for BEMS to remain strong in the representation of these areas while expanding the membership into the new and vibrant research area of medical applications. By expanding our meeting topics to include endogenous electric fields, medical diagnostics and therapies using EMF, we will not only be exposed to interesting new topics for discussion, but will also increase both our membership numbers and our meeting attendance. I will encourage expanding the topics covered at our annual meeting to include more of the beneficial uses of EMF.
I ask each of you to participate in two ways: 1) Send me your ideas for making BEMS one of the most exciting and useful resources available to our colleagues; 2) Actively recruit one colleague to join BEMS during the next year so we can double our number of members.
I must apologize in advance for being unable to attend the Brisbane meeting but I will be present at the Board meeting over the Internet to convey to the Board your ideas and suggestions. Please send them to me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Working together I am sure that we can make BEMS as exciting and useful as it deserves to be during these amazing times.