I think the winning formula may be an international mix of longtime colleagues who share advice and resources throughout the year; an influx of new members who keep us on our toes with fresh ideas; and a rotating conference location, allowing us to take turns hosting and our showing off our parent institutions and publications.
For instance, Penn State took its turn in 2008. (Acclaimed PSU geologist and climate change researcher Richard Alley gave a memorable presentation.) We’ve been hosted in Maryland by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, we’ve met up in Evanston and Chicago (check out the blog post!) when our meeting was sponsored by Fermilab and Northwestern University, and in Binghamton, New York last year, just to name a few.
You know that word-nerd friend of yours who relishes correcting everyone’s typos and grammatical slip-ups? Now picture dozens of that type in the same place for four days. Yes, that’s the basic scenario of the annual meeting (from which I just returned) of URMA, the University Research Magazine Association, a professional organization for those who write, edit, design, and publish magazines about academic, non-profit, or institute research. If you’re an URMAn (a member of URMA and the wider URMAnity, naturally) the chance to get together with our own kind— pencils sharpened, iPads charged and glowing, and Twitter accounts chirping—is exactly the kind of geeky career development experience we look forward to all year.