Initiation of a Proposal
Anyone interested in convening a Penrose Conference may submit a proposal during the open submittal period, 1
November through 15 December, and at least one of the conveners must be a member of The Geological Society
The deadline for submitting a proposal for review is 15 December. The Committee reviews the proposals and
will select one Penrose Conference and one Thompson Field Forum. Conveners will receive notification of the
status of their proposal by 1 March.
In the announcement of the winning proposal, the Committee may offer advice, which in some cases may be a
condition of acceptance. Such information will be articulated in the letter of congratulations issued by the
GSA Executive Director. If there is a condition of acceptance, the Committee chair will address an advisory
letter to the conveners calling their attention to matters that seem likely to pose problems and that must
be resolved if the Conference is to be successful. The Committee will select the Annual Penrose Conference
and Annual Thompson Field Forum based on scientific merit, scientific breadth, and diversity. The Committee
reserves full authority for final approval.
Once the winning annual Penrose Conference proposal has been selected, GSA’s professional meeting coordinator
(PMC) will assist conveners with final budget preparation, site selection, hotel arrangements, contract
negotiations, menu selection, administrative support, and the like. The PMC also ensures that the meeting is
financially viable and ensures that logistical arrangements are consistent with Penrose Conference rules and
procedures. Turning over these tasks to the PMC allows the conveners to devote their full attention to the
scientific program. In the case of meetings outside of the USA, the PMC generally will work with a local
convener or Destination Management Company (DMC) at the site to ensure that the same goals are met. Because
financial responsibility for the Conference must be clearly defined, the choice of a DMC is subject to
approval by GSA.
Ideal subjects for Conferences are those earth and planetary science topics for which recent work suggests a
potential for further significant advances in the near future. Each Conference subject should be under
current investigation and active discussion by able researchers in the field and/or in the laboratory.
Topics should be broad and multidisciplinary but with a thread of commonality so that participants can
communicate and collaborate toward resolutions. A Penrose Conference award should not duplicate the subject
of recent Penrose Conference awards.
GSA encourages conveners to develop sponsorship and support from relevant GSA Divisions and Associated
Societies. Lists of GSA Divisions and Associated Societies can be found on the GSA website.
Conveners must have technical competence and be knowledgeable about current activities in the specialized
fields that are to be represented at a Conference. Responsibility for organizing a Conference must be shared
by at a minimum of two conveners and no more than four conveners, each of whom can draw upon his or her own
experience and expertise in developing a well-integrated, effective Conference program that will foster
communication and stimulate research progress among experts in diverse but related fields. GSA encourages
conveners to represent full diversity of disciplines; early, mid, and late career; and individuals. At least
one of the conveners must be a member of GSA.
The success of the Conference is very much dependent upon the conveners’ organizational skills, professional
experience, and expertise relating to the Conference subject.
In reviewing the proposals, the Committee will give preference to those that focus on a diversity of the
conveners (early career, under-represented groups, and gender balance) in addition to a plan for recruiting
a diverse group of Conference attendees.
Time and Size
Once the Committee has announced the annual Conference awardee, it is expected the date of the Conference
will be during the next calendar year after acceptance. Care should be taken to avoid scheduling Conferences
at the same time as other scientific meetings, especially other GSA meetings or Conferences. Conveners
should check the GSA calendar of events before proposing a date. A schedule of future approved and
recommended Penrose Conferences will be provided to prospective conveners with these general guidelines.
Typically, Conferences have lasted four to seven days. Participants are expected to attend the entire
Conference. Conferences that are longer than five days tend to force premature departure.
It is essential that the Conferences be informal. Groups should be small enough that personal discussion
among all participants is encouraged, and large enough to provide diversity and depth. We recommend the size
be no fewer than 50 and no more than 90. Proposals with fewer or more recommended participants will need to
provide justification for their numbers.
A successful Conference site should be free from the distractions of other meetings and other demands on the
time and attention of the participants. The site should offer adequate meeting facilities and comfortable
surroundings where participants can live, eat, work, and relax together. Climate, accessibility, meals,
sleeping accommodations, recreational facilities, and economy should all be considered in selecting a site.
There are no restrictions about holding Conferences anywhere in the world, although logistics, costs,
accessibility, and other problems dictate caution in selecting the Conference location. However,
negotiations with the meeting venue should not happen before the Committee has announced that year’s
Anyone interested in attending a specific Conference is encouraged to submit an application. Conveners should
initially invite a few key speakers necessary to the organization and success of the Conference. Conveners
should work with the GSA Penrose Conference liaisons on broad advertisement of the Conference with the goal
of attracting a diverse group of scientists and students. Aside from these invitations issued in the early
planning stages of a Conference, the conveners should use indications of interest from those actively
working in the field to complete the list of Conference participants. Conveners are expected to recruit
interest from a diverse field of disciplines and individuals, and should include diversity in their
decisions on participation.
The final decision on participation will be made by the conveners, whose decision shall not be subject to
appeal. Acceptances for participation are not transferable.
All participants are expected to live at the Conference site. Spouses, families, and others who are not
registered participants are requested not to visit the Conference site and are not allowed to participate in
All participants are expected to attend the entire Conference and all must pay the full Conference
registration fee. Exceptions may be made only for invited key speakers whose attendance is deemed essential
by the conveners even though they may not be able to be present for the entire Conference.
It is important to remember that a list of key speakers and key participants, and their willingness to attend
the Conference, is an essential part of a Conference proposal and MUST be included with the proposal when it
is submitted to the Committee.
Conveners are encouraged to invite enough graduate students to make up at least 10% of the total
participants. A subsidy of up to US$2,000 may be available from the GSA Foundation to permit conveners to
offer reduced registration fees to students (available funds are dependent upon the amount of money in the
Penrose Conferences Fund). Students who pay a reduced registration fee may be asked to help with meeting
logistics (e.g., audio-visual set-up and/or operation, field-trip logistics and/or vehicle operation, etc.).
Participants with Special Needs
GSA is committed to making Conferences accessible to all people interested in attending. Conveners should be
aware and prepared for the possible use of auxiliary aids or services that may be needed by some
participants because of a disability.
Sponsorship and Cosponsorship
The Geological Society of America is the principal sponsor of the Penrose Conferences; however, the Society
welcomes GSA Scientific Divisions and other societies, organizations, and institutions as cosponsors.
Cosponsors are encouraged to provide financial support that will lower participant costs. Conveners must
identify cosponsors in their proposals, and the Committee reserves the right to approve cosponsors at the
time the proposals are being considered. Recognition is given to cosponsors in the Conference announcements,
as well as during the Conference. Sponsorship by GSA requires that these rules and guidelines MUST be
followed completely. If the cosponsor has guidelines, and if they are available, a copy should be submitted
with the proposal. It is the responsibility of the conveners to check those guidelines for compatibility
with the GSA rules and guidelines.
All budgetary and non-program planning and execution are handled through GSA’s PMC. For Conferences outside
of the USA, the PMC generally will collaborate with a local convener or DMC at the meeting site.
Any surplus funds generated by the meeting must be returned to the GSA Foundation to be used for student
support for a future Penrose Conference.
Each Conference must be self-supporting. GSA will provide administrative support through the early stages of
the procedures. GSA and the GSA Foundation (GSAF) will provide a total of US$20,000 in unrestricted funds
for the Penrose Conference that is accepted.
The Society accepts fiscal responsibility for Penrose Conferences. GSA’s PMC is employed to assist with
maintaining financial control since GSA is financially responsible for the Conference. The winning annual
proposal must clearly outline from where additional funds will come to cover the full Conference costs.
Conveners must prudently budget their Conference funds in such a way as to break even. A preliminary budget
must be submitted with the initial proposal. Conveners are expected to include with their proposal all
anticipated expenses; i.e., personal, institutional, or miscellaneous. These will be included in the
Conference budget. Only those expenses included in this budget may be paid from Conference funds. If surplus
funds are generated, they must be deposited in the GSAF’s Penrose Conference Fund for future student
All sponsorship or additional grants from private and/or corporate sources or governmental agencies for the
support of Penrose Conferences should be arranged through the GSA business office and the PMC. Any other
grants besides the GSA Penrose Conference Grant should be clearly identified for the specific Conference,
and adequate paperwork submitted to the GSA business office for record keeping and financial administration.
Everyone attending the Penrose Conference, including conveners, is expected to pay the full registration fee.
Reasonable costs for conveners may be built into the budget to defray the cost of convener travel and
registration. We recommend no more than two complimentary registrations for any Penrose Conference. With
more than two complimentary registrations, the costs are usually not sustainable in the budget. Conveners
should obtain institutional or other support for their individual travel and registration expenses when
possible. Receipts are required for all expenditures.
Conference funds may be used to assist graduate students whose thesis research is relevant to a Conference
subject. Students who qualify are urged to make an application to attend.
Honoraria will not be paid to any participant or speaker.
At the conclusion of a Conference, a financial report will be provided to the PMC, and it will be submitted
to the Executive Director.
Care must be taken not to over-structure the program and to allow sufficient time for free discussion and
participation in all activities by all participants. It is important to note that all participants need not
expect to make formal presentations. Contributions may be presented in informal discussions, in poster
sessions, or other communication venues that will work for the group. Detailed suggestions for structuring a
program are provided in “Conference Proposal Format and Forms,” which accompany these general guidelines:
- Penrose Conference abstracts are permitted to be posted on a website; however, authors must be told
before they submit their abstracts, that they may appear on a website.
- Abstracts posted on the web are not to be considered a formal publication but rather as a means of
distributing information to the participants of a particular Penrose Conference.
- The URL/website address will be included in the invitation letter to participants but will not be
otherwise distributed (i.e., published in GSA Today, reproduced in Division newsletters, etc.).
Field trips continue to be an integral part of Penrose Conferences. If a field trip is planned, care should
be given to the quality and appropriateness of the stops and in minimizing the overall travel distance. In
some cases, cost and travel time could be reduced by including the field trip to or from the Conference
Field trips should both begin and end at the meeting site, or, if the ending point is somewhere else,
transportation back to the meeting site must be made available and included in your budget.
GSA has an Events Code of Conduct that should be followed and adhered to at all times. All conveners and
participants are required to sign the appropriate forms prior to participating in any field trips. Forms
include: Field Safety Code of Conduct and the Participant Release/Waiver. All documents are on the GSA
No personal vehicles are allowed on the field trip portion of the Conference. Only university vans (12-pax or
smaller), rental SUVs/vans, motor coaches, or other GSA-approved modes of transportation can be used to
transport attendees. GSA’s insurance DOES NOT cover 15-passenger vans.
Publicity and Conference Reports
The conveners must prepare a Conference announcement for publication in appropriate scientific journals. It
is best to have the announcement in GSA Today a minimum of six months prior to the Conference. The
submission deadline for GSA Today is always the 1st of the month with a two-month lead time for article
submission and print (i.e., 1 August is the deadline for submitting an announcement for the October issue of
Announcements appear in GSA Today and the GSA Connection e-newsletter. Other scientific publication may be
considered for paid advertising, including Episodes—Journal of International Geoscience, AAPG Explorer,
Eos—Earth and Space Science News. Any paid ads will need to be included in the budget.
GSA will provide a Conference website and work with the conveners to populate it with the relevant
information. The PMC will work with the conveners to arrange for any press releases or social media
outreach. All promotional items for the Penrose Conference must include the GSA Logo. Promotional items
include websites, fliers, signage, business cards, etc. Please send these items to the GSA PMC for approval
prior to print. The main Penrose Conference website should be hosted as a subsection of the GSA website
(www.geosociety.org), and all promotional materials should direct attendees to the GSA website.
Post-Conference News Articles
As soon as the Conference has been completed, the conveners are required to send to the Executive Director a
brief evaluation of the administrative and logistical aspects of the Conference based on comments by the
participants and the experience of the conveners, as well as suggestions for the improvement of the
Conference format as a whole.
Within three months after the Conference, the conveners are required to send a general article to the
Executive Director for publication in GSA Today, covering the most interesting scientific and technical
aspects of the Conference. This article will be limited to two pages, or approximately 1200 words (plus the
participant list and, a group photo if available). If conveners wish to expand their remarks, the expanded
report can be posted on the GSA website.
This article should report the main trends of thought and discussions that prevailed at the Conference. It
should not include specific data or concepts for which individual participants expect to receive priority
through the publication of their papers in journals of their choice. In balancing the opposing needs to
inform and to preserve priority, the conveners must perform this task with responsibility and delicacy.
The editor may send the article for review; some articles may require revision as a result.
Suggested guidelines for the preparation of the article are:
- Tell where and when the Conference was held, what the objective was and whether it was achieved, and
what happened at the Conference.
- Avoid discussion of the weather, food, accommodations, and the like.
- Include a list of the participants.
- Articles must be brief and concise.
The conveners of each Penrose Conference have the option, if they desire, to publish the proceedings of the
Conference, including abstracts as appropriate, with the first right of refusal of this publication to be
given to GSA. If the conveners plan to publish from the inception, it should be so stated in the Conference
proposal. Publication opportunities include the GSA Special Paper series, which has a branded “Penrose
Conference Series” option, or a themed issue in Geosphere, a gold open-access journal. Both options require
a proposal to the respective science editors of those publications.
It is anticipated that symposia at GSA meetings or elsewhere may develop from some Conferences. These should
consist of a related series of formal papers, each reflecting the author’s own ideas, rather than a
synthesis of what was presented at a particular Conference.
The Society hopes and expects that all participants will freely discuss with their colleagues the significant
results of their participation. The intent is that the Conferences shall promote the generation of new
concepts and nurture new research efforts in all phases of the earth sciences.
Adherence to Guidelines
These guidelines, formulated by the Committee and approved by the Council, provide rules based on experience
gained from past Conferences. Changes and improvements will be incorporated as experience dictates. Once
approval of a proposal has been given by the Society, the conveners are fully responsible for the Conference
in accordance with the guidelines; and their acceptance implies agreement to abide by them.
Changes After a Proposal Has Been Approved
The following policies relate to changes in Penrose Conferences that have already received formal approval:
1. If one of the conveners withdraws during the formative stages of an approved Penrose Conference, the
question MUST be referred back to the Committee for approval of the substitute convener.
2. An agenda that has been significantly altered AFTER the approval of a proposal MUST be referred back to
the Committee for reconsideration and approval.
In cases of flagrant violation of the guidelines, the Executive Director is empowered to take appropriate
action, including postponement or cancellation of the Penrose Conference.
For additional questions please contact:
Becky Sundeen, email@example.com
The Geological Society of America
3300 Penrose Place, P.O. Box 9140
Boulder, CO 80301-9140
Revised April 2019