229: President's Letter

Authored by: David Black

Published on: Feb 03, 2013

 

BEMS greets 2013 in a strong position, both in terms of our financial and human resources.  The Board made a decision late last year to forego a mid-term Board meeting in order to conserve funds at this important time in the history of our Society.  This was partly a result of the move to electronic meetings which this year have been undertaken courtesy of the Telstra Corporation of Australia who have donated the use of their high quality international teleconference bridge.  The system is certainly capable of providing excellent quality meetings and was previously used extensively in preparation for the Brisbane conference.  Nevertheless, the move to telephone board meetings has not gone as smoothly as might have been hoped.  Despite considerable efforts on the part of our secretary, it has proven very difficult to synchronise Board members, having regard to a full spectrum of time zones, to get complete availability for meetings.  The need for people to join from various venues inevitably causes variations in the quality of the connection and means that optimal telephone facilities are not necessarily available.  Any participants on the line who are obliged to call from a noisy location cause considerable degradation of the meeting.  It is also fair to say that whilst those of us with English as a first language have little difficulty with telephone meetings our many friends with other mother tongues find the teleconference environment challenging and, from individual discussions I have had, unrewarding and in some cases unsatisfactory.  At this time, there are several BEMS Board members who have expressed the view that telephone meetings cannot replace a mid-term Board meeting (previously called a Winter Board Meeting before BEMS extended to the Southern Hemisphere).  Various alternatives have been proposed which include reducing the size of the Board and reducing even further the number of people required at a mid-term Board meeting.  The previous practise in BEMS was to attempt to hold a mid-term Board meeting in conjunction with a mini scientific meeting for Board members.  I think it is fair to say the opportunity for that has now passed and was probably only really viable when the Society was confined to North America.  I have advocated finding an epicentre (optimising travel distances and costs) at an airport hotel to hold a concise and focussed meeting and this idea looks as if it is gaining support but that will be decided in Thessaloniki in June.  
Planning for Thessaloniki meeting is proceeding well and by the time you read this, the programme will be published on the web and it will not be long before enrolments start.  This meeting, which has required and achieved considerable energy and enterprise on the part of our organisers from both BEMS and EBEA is deserving of wide support and once registration is open I encourage you to book early in order to provide confidence for the organisers to maximise the event.  One bonus, for us at least, is the extremely good value we are able to achieve at this time in accommodation in Greece and of course Thessaloniki is a stunning venue of great historical and cultural importance well worthy of using an opportunity for a vocation and for us all, as much as possible, to bring our partners.  
Shortly, you will be voting for new candidates for the BEMS Board and officers and I encourage every BEMS member to take the time to read the biographical information provided and make a careful choice as the future of our Society depends on continuing with the right people in governance, particularly at this time with BEMS settling into its new international role.  You will have to choose between people you have met and you know and those less familiar.  You will have to choose between geographical representation and people who are able to communicate and work together easily and efficiently.  In reality, the ideal Board will be a mix of all.  
My presidency comes to a close in less than six months and my focus now is to prepare for the Thessaloniki Board and scientific meetings and to ensure that the considerable gains that have been made in repositioning the Society in the last two years are consolidated and handed to the incoming Board.  In terms of activities, BEMS very clearly knows where it’s going. We continue to publish the journal Bioelectromagnetics which is going from strength to strength.  We continue our meetings, in Thessaloniki this year, in Cape Town next year and in California in 2015. 
We do need to think and discuss more about the scope of the Society, whether we are strictly a scientific organisation or whether we wish to embrace more technical practitioners as active members and particularly within the goals of BEMS.  In reality, this group is probably larger than the scientists, they attend our meetins already and in many ways face some of the most important challenges in the foreseeable future, in properly applying what we know while the scientists continue to expand scope of knowledge.  This will be a matter which I will be raising at Thessaloniki and carrying on into my duties as Immediate Past President.  
Finally, I take the opportunity of thanking BEMS members for their support leading up to and during the Brisbane meeting and since and I look forward to seeing you in Greece in June.
David Black MD, President

BEMS greets 2013 in a strong position, both in terms of our financial and human resources.  

The Board made a decision late last year to forego a mid-term Board meeting in order to conserve funds at this important time in the history of our Society.  This was partly a result of the move to electronic meetings, which this year have been undertaken courtesy of the Telstra Corporation of Australia who donated the use of their high quality international teleconference bridge.  The system is certainly capable of providing excellent quality meetings and was previously used extensively in preparation for the Brisbane conference.  Nevertheless, the move to telephone board meetings has not gone as smoothly as might have been hoped.  Despite considerable efforts on the part of our secretary, it has proven very difficult to synchronise Board members, having regard to a full spectrum of time zones, to get complete availability for meetings.  The need for people to join from various venues inevitably causes variations in the quality of the connection and means that optimal telephone facilities are not necessarily available.  Any participants on the line who are obliged to call from a noisy location cause considerable degradation of the meeting.  It is also fair to say that whilst those of us with English as a first language have little difficulty with telephone meetings, our many friends with other mother tongues find the teleconference environment challenging and, from individual discussions I have had, unrewarding and in some cases unsatisfactory.  At this time, there are several BEMS Board members who have expressed the view that telephone meetings cannot replace a mid-term Board meeting (previously called a Winter Board Meeting before BEMS extended to the Southern Hemisphere).  Various alternatives have been proposed which include reducing the size of the Board and reducing even further the number of people required at a mid-term Board meeting.  The previous practice in BEMS was to attempt to hold a mid-term Board meeting in conjunction with a mini scientific meeting for Board members.  I think it is fair to say the opportunity for that has now passed and was probably only really viable when the Society was confined to North America.  I have advocated finding an epicentre (optimising travel distances and costs) at an airport hotel to hold a concise and focussed meeting, and this idea looks as if it is gaining support, but that will be decided in Thessaloniki in June.  

 

Planning for Thessaloniki meeting is proceeding well and by the time you read this, the program will be published on the web and it will not be long before enrollments start.  This meeting, which has required and achieved considerable energy and enterprise on the part of our organisers from both BEMS and EBEA is deserving of wide support. Once registration is open, I encourage you to book early in order to provide confidence for the organisers to maximise the event.  One bonus, for us at least, is the extremely good value we are able to achieve at this time in accommodation in Greece and of course Thessaloniki is a stunning venue of great historical and cultural importance well worthy of using an opportunity for a vocation and for us all, as much as possible, to bring our partners.  

 

Shortly, you will be voting for new candidates for the BEMS Board and officers and I encourage every BEMS member to take the time to read the biographical information provided and make a careful choice as the future of our Society depends on continuing with the right people in governance, particularly at this time with BEMS settling into its new international role.  You will have to choose between people you have met and you know and those less familiar.  You will have to choose between geographical representation and people who are able to communicate and work together easily and efficiently.  In reality, the ideal Board will be a mix of all.  

 

My presidency comes to a close in less than six months and my focus now is to prepare for the Thessaloniki Board and scientific meetings and to ensure that the considerable gains that have been made in repositioning the Society in the last two years are consolidated and handed to the incoming Board.  In terms of activities, BEMS very clearly knows where it’s going. We continue to publish the journal Bioelectromagnetics which is going from strength to strength.  We continue our meetings, in Thessaloniki this year, in Cape Town next year and in California (Asilomar, near Monterey) in 2015. 

 

We do need to think and discuss more about the scope of the Society, whether we are strictly a scientific organization or whether we wish to embrace more technical practitioners as active members and particularly within the goals of BEMS.  In reality, this group is probably larger than the scientists, they attend our meetings already and in many ways face some of the most important challenges in the foreseeable future, in properly applying what we know while the scientists continue to expand scope of knowledge.  This will be a matter which I will be raising at Thessaloniki and carrying on into my duties as Immediate Past President.  

 

Finally, I take the opportunity of thanking BEMS members for their support leading up to and during the Brisbane meeting and since and I look forward to seeing you in Greece in June.

 

David Black MD, President