Letter from the Chief Executive Officer

Jane Peterson
Dear Colleague in the Scientific Community,

Whether you are interested in supporting Keystone Symposia as a donor, attending one of our conferences, or perhaps applying for one of our scholarships, travel awards or fellowships, I am pleased that you visited our website. Our organization is about to reach a milestone — In 2017, we will mark our 45th anniversary since the founding of Keystone Symposia in 1972 as UCLA Symposia. Since then, the organization has significantly evolved. We appreciate your interest and support.

In 2016-2017, we will convene a record number of conferences — ten — outside North America, including our first sets of joint meetings abroad, in both Denmark and Ireland. We are also embarking on a two-year special celebration of diversity — in particular, to recognize the contributions that women scientists and those from underrepresented (UR) ethnic backgrounds make to the life sciences. One of our goals is to improve the numbers of UR and female scientists on the podium at each meeting. Our goal over the next two years is to increase the number of women on our programs by one percentage point per year to 32% of those speaking, the equivalent of the percent of women in assistant to full professor positions in academia. The percent of women giving short talks is already 40%+ of speakers, about the same as the ratio of women scientists in our audience. Even after we accomplish our goals, we will continue to strive to increase the number of women on our programs.

Increasing the number of UR scientists on our programs and at our meetings is more difficult. We have assembled an effective Diversity Advisory Committee that is helping us identify UR speakers. While our scholarships, travel awards and Fellows Program do a good job of increasing overall participation, it is more challenging to increase the number of UR scientists speaking at the podium. We intend to increase this number by at least one percentage point annually to 4% of the total, and UR short talk speakers from 6.5% currently to 7.5% of the total. As with our global expansion, we will continually assess the progress of our efforts.

Keystone Symposia is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. This means that we supplement registration fees with industry, foundation, government and individual donations and grants, enabling us to keep the registration fees as reasonable as possible, as well as to award scholarships and travel awards to deserving graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and early-career investigators. We are extremely grateful for this support.

Please do not hesitate to send me an email with any input you might have. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at a Keystone Symposia conference soon.

Sincerely,

Jane L. Peterson, Ph.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Symposia
janep@keystonesymposia.org