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The snowbirds are coming

This is how the dates of the MWS can affect the attendance.

The first two examples involve Canada.

In 2012, despite the protests of the MWS directors, the MWS manager, Nature, set the MWS on the last days of February , over one month later than usual.

This was the nanotechnology meeting, organized by Sylvia Daunert. The attendance fell. A predictor was the attendance from Canada. Those in opposition knew that a January MWS was favored by Canadians because this is when cabin fever reaches its height in the north. They are in no mood to wait until the end of February , no matter how attractive the MWS topic.They are not alone in favoring January .

Usually the Canadian attendance is in the double digits. In 2011 it was 17. In 2012 it fell to one. And the number of exhibitors, a source of income, fell to zero, from its 20+ average of a few years earlier.
The following year Nature gave up its managerial role, ending a 25 year partnership.

For 2015, the new MWS manager, Elsevier, was persuaded to move the MWS one week earlier to avoid a supposed clash on the opening day with a fund raising event. The event in fact, did not happen.

But the MWS found itself with Martin Luther King Day happening in the middle. The result was a significant drop in attendance from UMMSM and elsewhere.

A splendid MWS was spoiled by the poor turnout and Elsevier lost more than it had earned in its first year as manager.

Seeking to be sure that it was the national holiday that was the culprit , the attendance from Canada was checked. Canada does not celebrate MLK Day.

Sure enough, the 2015 turnout from Canada was in its usual double digits.

The one risk in a January MWS, as previously noted, is the weather. This can have its upside. In 2012 an awardee who had been invited to lunch with our graduate students on the Sunday, was snowbound at NIH and arrived late. An enterprising student, Mel Valledor, suggested that instead , a Tuesday evening party be held for all students, postdocs, awardees and speakers. She was given $1000 and a most successful party took place at the nearby Filling Station. Sylvia Daunert suggested that this become an annual event. Bill Whelan persuaded a former BMB postdoc, Allyn Golub, to fund this , and he has done so ever since.

It is an ill wind that blows no good.