The American Arachnological Society is hosting the AAS 2020 Virtual Summer Symposium as an opportunity to bring our community together in lieu of our annual in-person meeting during Covid-19. While there are clear limitations of meeting online, this event will allow us to share research and support one another as scholars, educators and advocates – centered on the arachnids that inspire us. An added bonus of being virtual is the ability to extend the opportunity to colleagues for whom travel is limiting even in the best of circumstances. We welcome all of you!

A central goal of this meeting is to provide opportunities for students and other early career scholars in arachnology to share their research at this critical stage of progressing their scientific careers. We are also taking time to celebrate the contributions of Norman Platnick to arachnology, to better understand and consider AAS action toward recruiting and supporting Black, Indiginous and other People of Color (BIPoC) in arachnology, and to introduce some initiatives from our new Outreach Committee including galvanizing iNaturalist as a tool for science and outreach.

Collectively, we are empowered to make a positive difference and our intention is for this meeting to help unite and support the excellent work within the AAS community.

Many people have helped make this meeting happen on an unnaturally short timescale:

Jeremy McWilliams, Lewis & Clark College who is heroically managing the tech support.

A small but awesome steering committee including, Mercedes Burns, Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (posters), and Lisa Chamberlain, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Vermont (talks).

The Forum to discuss how AAS can take action to recruit and support BIPOC has been organized by Nadia Ayoub, Associate Professor of Biology, Washington & Lee University, Karen Cangialosi, Professor of Biology, Keene State College, and Paula Cushing, Senior Curator of Invertebrates, Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The Community Science iNaturalist workshop has been organized by Marshal Hedin, Professor of Biology, San Diego State University, Catherine Scott, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Biology, Acadia University, Sebastian Escheverii, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh, and Eileen Hebets, Professor of Biology, University of Nebraska.

The AAS Executive Committee has supported this meeting, in particular membership secretary Brian Patrick, Associate Professor of Biology, Dakota Wesleyan University.

We look forward to engaging with you!

Greta Binford
President, American Arachnological Society