ISMD 2022 Conference
The 51st meeting of the International Symposium on Multiparticle Dynamics was held in Pitlochry, Scotland from 1-5 August, two years after the meeting was originally meant to be hosted by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh, and a year after the 50th edition was moved to a fully online form for the first (and hopefully only) time.
ISMD is a long-running conference series on all aspects of QCD, cutting across perturbative and non-perturbative regimes, hadron and heavy-ion colliders, nuclear physics, and cosmic rays. This year's meeting, somewhat suppressed by ongoing Covid restrictions and impacts on travel, saw around 85 attendees from the UK and 24 other countries converge on Highland Perthshire. Those who were unable to travel were served by free streaming of the conference sessions on Zoom and posters on gathertown (but not the all-important coffee and mealtime chats), which saw an equal registration to the in-person meeting, particularly assisting engagement from India, China and developing countries. Conference activity was promoted on Twitter via the @ismdconf account and #ISMD2022 hashtag, with positive engagement across the target communities.
The large ballroom of the Atholl Palace Hotel proved an excellent venue, and both the presentations and the environment were greatly enjoyed by all. Highlights were an excellent experimental summary of the contentious CDF mW measurement, complemented by a remote talk on theory inputs and consequences from Peter Athron, and of course the social programme of whisky tasting, excursions to the beauty spots of Queen's View and the Falls or Bruar, and (naturally) a conference banquet with piper, Address to the Haggis, and a following ceilidh. The room allowed participants to sit in a well-spaced manner and we kept fire doors open for ventilation making it as Covid-secure as reasonably possible.
The declared female-to-male ratio was around 1:3, and declared career stages were reasonably well balanced between students, RAs, and academics, in a roughly 4:5:7 proportion that gave the meeting a refreshingly young tone. This was assisted by a set of excellent 5 minute "flash talks" in which mostly early-career poster presenters could promote their work and stimulate discussion in the plenary sessions, and by a substantial programme of travel support from the IoP HEPP, APP and Nuclear Physics groups, STFC, Durham IPPP, and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, SUPA, the Higgs Centre for Theoretical Physics, and the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The poster prize of £200 was awarded to an outstanding presentation of collinear Z+jet production at ATLAS, by Alexandre Laurent of Carleton University, Canada. On one evening, we arranged for one of our keynote speakers, Alan Watson, to speak at the local Pitlochry Cafe Scientifique. A small panel of other attendees went with him for a Q&A session. This event was very successful with the venue running out of seats!
As a final note, in this era of both Covid and climate crisis, we consider it an imperative to run conferences in an equitable and responsible way. A strong attendance and career balance was achieved in-person via support grants, and careful provision of a remote streaming option enabled those who could not travel to get some benefit -- this was well worth the additional technical complexity of a hybrid meeting. On the second point, we minimised waste by eschewing a traditional conference pack in favour of as-needed stationery, and the estimated carbon footprint of ISMD international travel to Scotland has been offset via tree-planting in Scotland with the Future Forest Co. We hope these initiatives will inspire future meetings to do the same.
First published: 31 August 2022