ACA Session Chair Resources 

Volunteering to be a session chair is an important responsibility and service to our society. The annual meeting would not be possible without the dedication and support of our session chairs and we appreciate all of the time and effort you have devoted to the ACA - thank you!

This page is provided as a general informational page for ACA session chairs.  Each meeting will have a dedicated website with more detailed information.  

73rd ACA Annual Meeting: Baltimore, Maryland USA

Location: Baltimore Marriott Waterfront, 700 Aliceanna Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202 USA

Tentative Schedule:
Workshops & Opening Reception: Friday, July 7, 2023
Sessions Day One: Saturday, July 8, 2023
Sessions Day Two: Sunday, July 9, 2023
Sessions Day Three: Monday, July 10, 2023
Sessions Day Four & Banquet: Tuesday, July 11, 2023
Future Planning Meeting: Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Meeting Policies

As a session chair, please make sure to review all of ACA's statements and policies, especially as they pertain to the annual meeting:

Code of Conduct
Conference Policy
Speaker Invitation Policy
Reporting Policy



There are four members on the Meeting Committee who are always happy to assist session chairs with questions or issues related to annual meeting.  Please also always feel free to reach out to ACA HQ.  

ACA Meeting Committee   ACA HQ
Anna Gardberg (21-24)
Stacey Smith (23-26)
Kristin Stevens
Kristina Vitale 


The predominate method of communication is email and we encourage session chairs to safelist the ACA to ensure the timely delivery of emails, notices and deadlines. 

The Meeting Committee also utilizes Slack and has asked session chairs to join the ACA Backstage Slack Channel.  If you need an invite to the workspace please contact ACA HQ.


Watch the 2023 ACA Session Chair Onboarding (Spring 2023)

Watch the 2023 ACA Session Chair Onboarding (Fall 2022)


Responsibilities of the ACA Session Chair 

Before the Meeting

As a session chair, your job at the meeting will be to introduce your session and your presenters and to keep your session on time, however the job starts almost a year earlier.  Session chairs are responsible for identifying the theme of their session, inviting speakers/talks associated with the session theme. 

In November, the ACA Meeting Committee will work to collect the title and description of each session from session chairs.  There are multiple platforms utilized by the ACA so it is imperative that this description is complete and final.

Examples of Past Session Descriptions

1.1.4 Total Scattering: New Insights in Condensed Matter

While crystallography has traditionally dealt with the average, periodic arrangement of atoms in condensed matter, it has long been acknowledged that deviation from ideality is critically important to understanding macroscopic material phenomena. As atomic structure characterization tools have continued to mature, an increasing body of work has accumulated documenting locally perturbed atomic environments, even in materials of nominally high average symmetry. These studies are often complemented by spectroscopy and microscopy methods to confer a nuanced understanding of materials behavior and inform the materials science paradigm.  Beyond the classical examples of diffuse scattering, total scattering and the pair distribution function have been fruitfully applied to numerous contemporary materials science problems, including: ferroic materials, catalysts, strongly correlated electron systems, energy storage materials, as well as bulk/nanoscale variations on each theme.  New experimental techniques have also advanced local structure methodologies, particularly regarding advancements in grazing incidence X-ray PDF measurements of thin films, and advancements in the quantitative treatment of electron PDF data.  This symposium invites discussion of contemporary scientific developments enabled by local structure investigations of condensed matter.


4.2.3 Sample Prep for Cryo-EM and Crystallography

With the technological advancements in both X-ray crystallography and Cryo-EM, structural biology techniques are becoming readily accessible to all labs. Although we are witnessing many significant strides in this field, preparation of high-quality samples still remains as one of the main bottleneck for both methods. In this session we will highlight the latest sample preparation methods, techniques, and best practices for both crystallography and Cryo-EM single particle, tomography, and micro-ED workflows.


2.1.4 Magnetic Structure Determination: Advances and Applications

Magnetic symmetry is key to understanding and designing many quantum and topological properties materials such as superconductors, quantum spin liquids, spin ices, topological insulators, chiral magnets, and skyrmions. The session will focus on various ideas on how to understand and design quantum and topological materials through magnetic and structural symmetries. We also welcome advanced magnetic and quantum characterization methods to enliven our discussions.


Organizing Your Session

In order to organize your session you will need to log into the abstract platform (once it is launched) and familiarize yourself with its features.  

We encourage session chairs to register for the meeting as soon as possible to ensure access to all of the meeting platforms and resources.  

In addition to compiling invited talks, session chairs review contributed abstracts submitted to the session and incorporate them into the schedule of talks. Session chairs should monitor the submissions to their session starting in January to (1) confirm that invited speakers are submitting their abstracts and (2) that there are contributed abstracts being submitted.  If there is an inadequate number of talks in a session, that session chair is responsible to solicit additional abstracts.  

A minimum of 40% of the talks must be from contributed abstracts.  The author of a contributed abstract that is selected for an oral presentation must be contacted by the Session Chair to make sure he/she is willing to give a talk.  Authors can only submit one abstract unless submitting a second abstract for an educational session but should seek permission of the Meeting Committee before submitting.  

Once the abstract deadline has passed and all abstracts have been submitted it will be the session chairs responsibility to arrange talks and assign times to speakers including incorporating Etter Award winners.  

  • Morning (AM) sessions will run from 8:30AM to 11:30AM. Session chairs should schedule a half-hour coffee break at 10AM.
  • Afternoon (PM) sessions will run from 2PM to 5PM. Session chairs should schedule a half-hour coffee break at 3PM.
  • Evening (EVE) sessions will run from 7PM to 9:30PM.
  • Award sessions will take place at 11:30AM on days two, three and four of the conference.
  • Poster sessions will run from 5:30 to 7:30PM on days one, two and three of the conference.

The Meeting Committee has put together a list of timing options that session chairs can utilize when organizing their session.  

One each session is organized, HQ will notify speakers of their acceptance as well as the date/time of their talk however we encourage session chairs to touch base with the presenters to make sure they are aware of presentation guidelines and the session schedule.  If there are any special accommodations needed by a speaker, please alert ACA HQ so that arrangements can be made prior to the start of the meeting.  

At the Meeting

ACA session chairs are for all all intents and purposes the host of the session.  AT the meeting session chairs should be prepared to:

    • Plan to arrive at your session at least 10-15 minutes before the start time.
    • Prepare a slide with sponsor logos to project at the beginning and end of the session as well as during the intermission.
    • Introduce yourself to the audience before the start time, giving the name of the session and asking people to take their seats quickly. Encourage the audience to take center/front seats and to silence their cell phones.  
    • Familiarize yourself with the speaker line up and find out how to pronounce author names.  
    • Keep the session on time.  Starting and closing of the session at the scheduled time is essential. Please be prompt to start the session.
    • Keep track of the presentation time. Remind the speakers when their time is going to be finished with warnings at certain intervals. Please be somewhat flexible and courteous in handling your authors, but don’t let any author have an inappropriately large amount of time so that the subsequent authors do not have sufficient time for presenting.
    • Session chairs should be prepared to stimulate informal discussion and questions for each speaker.  Please encourage the audience to take part in the discussions and to ask questions without any hesitation.  Please ask the discusser to identify him/herself before asking a question.
    • Prepare a list of questions for each speaker in case the audience has none. 
    • Instruct any invited speakers receiving reimbursement to stop by the registration desk during the meeting and pick up their check.  

After the Meeting

Session chairs should submit a session summary and any photos to the RefleXions editor within thirty (30) days of the conclusion of the conference for inclusion in the fall issue.  Examples of past session summaries can be found in the fall issue of the archived issues of RefleXions.


Additional Session Chair Information & Resources 

There will be zoom sessions at key times in the planning that session chairs will be invited to meet with the Meeting Committee to review upcoming meeting items.  Session chairs will be invited by email to any zoom sessions scheduled relating to the annual meeting.  

The ACA Meeting Committee has prepared a session chair worksheet to assist session chairs throughout the meeting process.  This form does not need to be formally submitted but is shared to assist session chairs with session organization.  

This worksheet is for informational purposes only and only intended to assist session chairs by outlining major deadlines, offering fundraising strategies and sharing session organization tips.  


General Meeting Schedule

(These dates are tentative and are subject to change)

  • Finalize session chairs, titles and session descriptions
  • Session Chair Onboarding
  • Final Session description and titles to ACA HQ by 11/25/22
  • Web Launch
  • Registration Opens
  • Abstract Portal Opens
  • Abstract submission deadline (specific date to be determined)
  • SIG Chairs review and select Etter Award Winners
  • Travel Grant Applications Due on 3/15
  • Sessions to be organized by 4/7/23
  • Oral authors are notified (via email) of the date/time and session of their talk.  
  • Poster abstract submission deadline in order to qualify for poster prizes 4/24/23 
  • Early Registration Ends 5/14/23
  • Post authors are notified (via email) of their assigned poster session.    
  • July 7th - Annual Meeting Begins!   
  • Planning Meeting for 2024
  • Submit photos and a summary of the session to RefleXions



The deadline for abstract submission will be announced in January. All abstracts, including those from invited speakers, should be submitted via the meeting web site. Session Chairs should review the on-line abstracts and decide on whether or not to accept an abstract, whether it should be an oral presentation or a poster, and how the poster abstracts will be clustered. A minimum of 40% of the talks must be from contributed abstracts.  The author of a contributed abstract that is selected for an oral presentation must be contacted by the Session Chair to make sure he/she is willing to give a talk.  Authors can only submit one abstract unless submitting a second abstract for an educational session but should seek permission of the Meeting Committee before submitting.  

Session chairs should note that each SIG must also decide to name one Etter Student Lecturer Talk and Award from among the submitted abstracts by students. (Note that these lectures are distinct from the Etter Early Career Award, which is handled by ACA Headquarters.) The SIG Officers should choose an undergraduate student candidate; contact him/her to make sure they are willing to give a talk instead of a poster. The awardees will each receive $250 check and a certificate at the session. Session Chair should present the award when they introduce the speaker at the session. SIG Chair also works with appropriate Session Chair to assure there is a slot for this student to give the oral presentation. Please consider having a sufficient number of young scientists and women speaking at the half-day sessions.



For logistical reasons, all meeting registrants must also be ACA members.  Non-member rates cover the cost of membership as well as registration.  

Session chairs should register as soon as possible.  The ACA does not waive registration fees for session chairs and session chairs are not permitted to award themselves reimbursement funds from sponsorship.  

Invited speakers must register for the conference.  The ACA does not waive fees for invited speakers.  Session chairs should seek external funds if they wish to reimburse registration fees.  

All presenters must register for the conference.  It is mandatory that at least one author of each accepted abstract attends the session and presents the work. Please note that each abstract shall be accompanied by at least one full conference registration. The presenting author must be fully registered by April 15th for oral submissions and May 16th for a poster presentations. An author per abstract is expected to attend the session where the abstract is discussed. Exceptions to this rule can be granted by request and at the discretion of the ACA Meeting Committee.



Limited funds have been budgeted to support individual sessions and Session Chairs are encouraged to seek outside funding/support.   Detailed information on the process will be issued to session chairs at the beginning of the year. 

Click here to reserve Sponsorships & Advertising Opportunities 

If you (as session chair) decide to reimburse an invited speaker, those speakers MUST register by the early registration deadline, as they will not be reimbursed at the higher rate. Nonmember invited speakers may register at the ‘regular’ registration rate.

Speakers may receive funding from only one session. Exceptions may be made on a case by case basis in consultation with the Meeting Committee. The only form of payment/reimbursement is an ACA check, drawn on a U.S. bank. No cash will be distributed. 

All checks will be ready for pickup at the registration desk at the meeting.  

Participants who are eligible to receive a check must produce original receipts totaling (at least) the dollar amount of the check. Recipients, who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents, and whose funding exceeds $599, must have a U.S. Tax I.D. Number. ACA will supply recipients with the appropriate form to obtain one. Recipients, who are not US citizens or permanent residents traveling from outside the U.S., must produce a copy of their travel VISA. Checks will not be cashed by ACA.