With this article I would like to report on the activities of the ESB Council members (achievements, decisions, ongoing discussions…) and “highlights” during this first year of my term, as well as some challenges that lie ahead of us. It has become a rather extensive report – blame it on the Council members for being too active!
There may be several reasons why I prefer to update you at this stage, such as (i) my term is more than half way, so you could consider it as a “midterm evaluation” (ii) we did not have a General Assembly at ESB2013, among others due to an already very busy Council agenda, so this report may act as an alternative, although “unidirectional” way of communicating with our membership and (iii) it may in general help you in getting a better idea what it means to be part of the ESB Council. Hopefully, it will motivate some of you to also get involved more, and perhaps even candidate for a Council position during the next elections in July 2014.
Enjoy the reading!
Hans Van Oosterwyck
Table of contents
Those of you who attended the banquet at ESB2012 in Lisbon may remember that during my opening speech, I mentioned two challenges related to the ESB congresses. The first challenge was related to the fact that for the first time in the history of ESB, we would have an ESB congress in an odd year, as such breaking the biennial rhythm that ESB was used to since 1978. In the meantime we know that this challenge was dealt with in a very successful way, and for this I need to be grateful to two groups of people. The first group is the local organizing committee from Patras who organised ESB2013, led by Yannis Missirlis, who did a wonderful job in putting together an appealing scientific and social program, running everything very professionally and creating a stimulating environment. The second group are the participants, who showed up with more than 500, ensuring that not only the quality, but also the quantity was guaranteed.
The second challenge is still ahead of us, and is the fact that – again – for the first time in the history of our society, our congress crosses the Atlantic and merges with the World Congress of Biomechanics (WCB2014). Looking at the names of plenary speakers and members of the various committees that are involved in the organization of WCB (including our Council member Stephen Ferguson, who is our liaison to WCB2014 in his duty of Technical Program Co-Chair within the WCB2014 Program Committee), I have no doubt that this will be an exciting scientific event. The challenge for biomechanics in Europe and ESB in particular is to make sure we participate in large quantities and showcase our best work to the rest of the world. In order to facilitate this, the decision was taken by the previous Council – and after having consulted the ESB membership – to join forces, instead of competing by organising our own congress in 2014. Of course, with the Council, we will do our best to ensure the visibility of ESB at WCB2014, e.g. by means of our extensive awards program, of which you can read more in this Newsletter, and by means of our General Assembly (including elections for vacant Council positions). However, the real key to success lies in your hands, and in a way is very simple: you just submit your best work to the congress and participate with as many of your group as possible. Again, in order to facilitate this, we will have up to twenty travel awards available to young, promising ESB members, which in total represents a budget of € 8,000. In addition, the ESB Council has agreed with the organizing committee of WCB2014 that a third of its travel award budget (consisting in total of $25,000) will be given to European students (whether ESB members or not), which in total means the availability of about twice as much funding for travel awards for young European biomechanics researchers than e.g. compared to ESB2013.
ESB2013 was the second time that we have run our extended awards program. In Patras, the Huiskes medal, Best Thesis award, ESB Student award, Clinical Biomechanics award, Poster award and Travel awards were presented (which is almost the complete program, apart from the SM Perren award). Believe me, coordinating such a program is a lot of work – and if you do not believe me, just talk to Peter Zioupos, our vice president and chair of the awards committee who is in charge of this. Having such an extensive awards program is important for a scientific society and community, as it allows among others the best work of some of our young, promising students to be promoted – by means of the Best Thesis award and the ESB Student award – but at the same time pay tribute to some of our most distinguished and senior scientists – by means of the Huiskes medal, which was given this year to John Currey, one of the European ‘fathers’ of bone biomechanics. Peter has further streamlined the application and evaluation procedures of some of these awards – such as for the Best Thesis award, where we now have a transparent and efficient two stage procedure. Within the Council we also decided to alternate between the two most prestigious awards, being the Huiskes medal that in the future will be awarded in odd years, and the Perren award that will be awarded in even years. Following a recent discussion with the Clinical Biomechanics journal, the sponsor of the award with the same name, ESB will present this award in even years, while our colleagues from the International Society of Biomechanics will do so in the odd years.
In summary it means that at WCB2014 the following ESB awards can be competed for: the SM Perren award, Best Thesis award, Student award, Clinical Biomechanics award and Travel awards. You can find more details (application deadlines, regulations) – on our website as well as in this Newsletter. We want to encourage all our members to take part in these awards competitions. Especially our student members should realize the importance of winning an award for their scientific career.
ESB Mobility grant
This Council has also launched a new initiative this year to promote the mobility of young researchers, by financially supporting them to carry out collaborative research in another lab, as part of their PhD or postdoc. The young researcher and senior responsible of the host lab must be ESB members. The grant regulations were drafted by Hanna Isaksson, as chair of the Student committee. Five applications were received this year, and two candidates were awarded with € 4,000 euros each, whose names and award winning projects can be found in this Newsletter.
We originally thought of this Mobility grant as a one-off initiative, following the rather substantial financial profit that was made in recent years, as a result of an ever increasing membership number and a number of very successful ESB congresses. Clearly, as a non-profit organisation with the sole mission of fostering biomechanics research in Europe, we should make sure our members are benefiting from these positive financial balances. We felt that this Mobility grant is perfectly fitting our mission statement, as it creates opportunities for young ESB members to broaden their scientific horizon, and to establish new collaborations. We are strongly considering continuing this new awards program, and have already decided that in 2014 we will at least have one Mobility grant to be competed for. More information will follow in a next Newsletter, but interested scientists can already start preparing, based on the information on our website! Clearly, the sustainability of such an extensive awards program requires an adequate budget to support it, which is one of the responsibilities of Bill Taylor, our treasurer.
We currently have almost 900 members in total and are witnessing a constant flow of new membership applications – which clearly puts Gwen Reilly, our secretary general under quite some pressure in order to process them in time! Clearly, we can only be happy with such numbers. At the same time, we would like to attract more companies to become Corporate members, among others because we feel it could facilitate the interaction between industry and academia, leading to new research collaborations and job opportunities for our younger members. Luca Cristofolini, our membership chair, has introduced additional benefits for Corporate members to make it even more attractive for them, such as “congress packages” that consist of reduced Corporate membership fees and booth prices, as well as the introduction of a dedicated Corporate Presentation Session entitled “Technology for Research” at the next ESB congresses (to be introduced in ESB2015). Luca is currently approaching companies to inform them of these new benefits – if you know of any companies who would be interested, do not hesitate to contact him!
Student members are a priority for us – after all they are the future (of biomechanics)! With more than 220 student members (meaning about 25% of the membership) we feel we should do better, especially since a student membership fee of only 20 euros is almost nothing (the equivalent of a few beers, depending on where you live 😉 and gets paid back immediately (given the fact that the ESB congress fee for member students is at least 40 euros less than for non-member students). Even more, as nowadays all non-member congress participants (including students) can apply for membership, their congress fee will automatically cover their membership fee after the application is approved by the Council, meaning that membership is essentially free.
Students (and their supervisors!) should realize that getting involved in a scientific society is important for their career. By becoming a student member, you obtain additional opportunities for networking (e.g. access to ESB social media, like LinkedIn and the Facebook student site), visibility (e.g. by getting involved in the ESB Student committee, chaired by Hanna Isaksson) and career building. Again, I want to emphasise our extensive awards program tailored to student members – Best Thesis award, ESB Student award, Mobility grant – and the fact that you are only eligible to these awards if you are an ESB student member.
It is very logical that the ESB Council closely interacts with the local ESB congress organisers, and which is coordinated by Paulo Fernandes, our Meetings chair. We feel this has only been intensified over the years, and in the particular case for ESB2013 has been a very pleasant and mutually beneficial experience for the Council as well as for the local organisers, led by Yannis Missirlis. With the decision of having annual ESB congresses, it clearly leads to more work for the Council, as it among other means that every year we have to launch a call for bids, and evaluate these bids – which we always do three years ahead of the actual congress date. As most of you know, ESB2015 will take place in Prague on 5-8 July, 2015. During our Council meeting at ESB2013, we have also evaluated the bids for ESB2016 and selected the bid from Lyon – congratulations again to David Mitton and his team for a very well prepared and balanced proposal!
Together with our web designer Barry Kaye from CookandKaye, we are currently developing a dedicated congress web portal that will facilitate and standardise a number of congress related organisational aspects, such as abstract submission and evaluation, congress registration (including incorporation of membership fee payment) and congress proceedings. Clearly, this is a rather major step that requires careful planning. Once it is operational – the first ESB congress that will make use of it is ESB2016 – we are convinced that it will have a clear added value for the visibility of the ESB, as well as for all parties involved (the congress participants and ESB members in the first place, the local organisers and the ESB Council), among others by simplifying and standardising certain procedures. For sure, you will hear more about this during the General Assembly in Boston!
Apart from these “highlights” there are clearly much more aspects that Council members are taken care of:
• The web content and News dissemination is very efficiently being managed by Maria Angeles Pérez, our Publication chair, among others by means of a monthly Newsletter that is brought to you by email and that is fully integrated in our website.
• Since three years we have two National ESB Chapters – one Italian, and one Spanish– that have their own annual meetings, in this way facilitating scientific collaboration and dissemination at the national level. If you are interested in founding your own national chapter, please have a look at this web page and contact Anita Ignatius, our chair of the Society and Chapter Liaison Committee.
• ESB as a Society is a member of the European Alliance for Medical and Biological Engineering & Science (EAMBES), an organization which among others lobbies for biomedical engineering research at the European level. Stephen Ferguson, the chair of the EAMBES Committee, regularly updates you with news bits that are relevant to ESB.
• For the (financial) viability of a Society it is also crucial that members pay their membership fee each year. We have made this easier for you by incorporating the membership fee into the ESB congress fee. Practically, this means that those ESB members who attended ESB2013 have automatically extended their membership until the end of 2014 – an extra motivation to attend our congress every year! Those of you who did not attend will receive an email from Bill Taylor, our treasurer, very soon, with an invitation to pay their membership through our online payment site (accessible after login). At the same time, all members can subscribe to various biomechanics journals at reduced rates (see the full list here), for which Bill will send you another email soon. If you do not like to be reminded several times– Bill has implemented some very efficient ways to do this through our website 😉 – then please pay your dues after you have received the invitation. For those of you who are in doubt about our fee structure, you can find all information.
Despite all this work, some of our (female) Council members have worked on different, although very effective ways of securing the future of biomechanics. Congratulations to both Maria Angeles and Hanna with the birth of their baby girls!