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Chapman Conferences

AGU Chapman Conferences are small, topical meetings designed to permit in-depth exploration of specialized subjects.

About the AGU Chapman Conference program

Named in honor of Sydney Chapman, a mathematician and physicist recognized for his research in geophysics, Chapman Conferences have encouraged innovative research for more than four decades.

The Chapman Conference program is AGU’s premier opportunity for scientists to gather in small meetings with the explicit purpose of significantly advancing their field of research. Chapman Conferences are small, with about one hundred attendees, and last about three days. The meetings are designed to be transformative such that, years later, participants exclaim that their Chapman was where everything changed. 

Distributed Volcanism and Distributed Volcanic Hazards

In order to ensure a healthy and safe meeting experience for our attendees in response to COVID-19, AGU and the conference chairs are postponing the conference to 2021. The new dates are 11-15 May 2021.

Information on registration (including refund process and options), abstract submissions and the post-conference field trip are on the FAQs page.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We look forward to your continued support of the Chapman Conference.

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Propose a future Chapman Conference

Submit your proposal today.
Get started on your own Chapman Conference proposal by downloading and reviewing our sample proposal (PDF).

Proposal process and overview

Chapman Conferences should be bold and with great purpose resulting in lasting excitement for future discoveries. Proposers should consider the grand challenges in their science and focus on identifying the key, yet solvable, problems within the framework of the Chapman. Chapman Conferences should be goal-oriented, i.e., agreeing on solutions or mapping the path toward them. Proposers should consider how activities before, during, and after the meeting could contribute to its success. Meeting outcomes should include publications in the form of conference reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, and/or a book, as well as special sessions at the Fall Meeting that present the solutions and pathways developed from the Chapman.

Conveners engage scientists with breadth of knowledge of the topic and diversity of opinions and become the program committee.

AGU staff handles the administrative and logistical details.

Proposing a Chapman Conference is typically a two-step process: (1) the proposal is submitted to AGU and, if successful, then (2) the proposal is appropriately revised and submitted to funding agencies for meeting support.


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Designing a Chapman

You must be an AGU member to propose a Chapman Conference and you must identify the topical focus of the conference in your proposal.

There is no pre-defined design for a Chapman Conference. Your Chapman Conference might focus on a scientific hypothesis. Your field might be at a cusp where measurements have been collected and models have been developed to an extent that testing of a hypothesis can be completed at the Conference with results that transform your field. Or, perhaps your Chapman will focus on a suite of measurements that if properly designed and collected would yield exciting results. As another example, your Chapman might focus on modeling issues that have challenged your field but bringing together their developers could inspire a breakthrough. These are only examples intended to fuel your thinking as you design and write your Chapman proposal.

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Drafting the statement

Conveners should first contact the Chapman Conference chair before writing their proposal to help provide proposal guidance.  After these discussions, the conveners prepare a scientific statement of topics to be addressed at the Chapman Conference. This scientific statement should evolve into a cogent five- to 10-page discussion document with alternative views of issues, and the defined scientific relevance of the focus. Appropriate references should be cited. This statement becomes the body of the proposal which will be scientifically reviewed within AGU and become the core of the proposal submitted to various funding agencies. As such, the statement should be concise, yet well documented. The statement is also used to promote the Chapman Conference, such as through a submission to Eos, after the conference has been approved.

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Chapman basics

If you are considering proposing a Chapman Conference, we encourage you to review the following information to understand the scope, organization, and management of Chapmans. If you have questions regarding a proposal, please contact Victoria Forlini, Director, Meetings, AGU.

You must be an AGU member to propose a Chapman Conference.

The conveners should establish an appropriate list of potential participants. Past experience suggests that the most productive Chapman Conferences include 80-120 attendees with 15-20 graduate students. Larger groups may inhibit adequate discussion and smaller groups usually cannot cover the breadth of the topic. Attendance may only exceed 150 participants if the conveners make a convincing case that such a large Chapman can enable a leap forward in their scientific field.

Your proposal should include a list of names and contact information of people who are likely to attend the conference (these can be placed in an appendix).  The length of this list should exceed the expected attendance to ensure maximum participation.

The timing of the conference should be selected to optimize the scientific productivity. You should allot no less than 15 months between your proposal and the proposed conference dates.

AGU accepts Chapman Conference proposals twice a year on 15 March and 15 September and schedules four to five per year. Chapman Conferences should not conflict with major holidays, other Chapman Conferences or meetings of AGU and other societies. No Chapman Conferences are convened in December. View upcoming meetings.

Chapman Conferences range from three to five days in length. Conference objectives are best served when all participants remain for the full conference and participate in all activities, scientific and social. Note that conferences longer than three days in duration usually suffer serious attrition in attendance, particularly on the fifth day.

The site should be carefully chosen to promote conference objectives, limit distractions, and provide adequate facilities for housing, meals, and meeting space while keeping costs reasonable. Hotels and lodges in tourist centers or resort areas during off season, all-inclusive resorts, or college campuses during semester breaks often provide excellent facilities at reasonable costs.

Chapman Conferences can be held almost anywhere, although a site should be selected with consideration for travel problems and costs. Your proposal should indicate three possible meeting locations (city and country), in order of priority.  AGU Headquarters in Washington, D.C., should be strongly considered given its excellent facilities, low costs, and convenient location to both Europe and the west coast of the U.S.

While conveners may recommend a venue for the Chapman Conference, the site selection is made by AGU. Selecting a location is a balance between low cost and attracting attendees. When a Chapman Conference is held outside of the United States, preference is given to hotel groups where AGU has a global sales relationship.

Hosting field trips of scientific value are common with Chapman Conferences. Field trips must focus on the scientific topic of that specific Chapman Conference. Conveners may choose a location that allows for a field trip to a site of scientific interest.

The Program Committee may recommend a local person to assist with the development of the field trip. Additional sight-seeing activities may be organized by the conveners but are not managed by AGU.

Chapman Conferences are a self-supporting program of AGU, meaning AGU does not provide monetary funding. We recommend conveners identify potential financial sponsors for their conferences, especially to support conference participants. Depending on the time and location of the conference, different levels of financial support may be appropriate. AGU is the principal sponsor of Chapman Conferences, however other societies, institutions, and organizations that are acceptable to AGU can participate as co-sponsors. Co-sponsorship is a natural way to recognize and promote interdisciplinary approaches to a problem and cross-disciplinary participation in the conference. Anticipated co-sponsors should be identified when submitting your Chapman Conference proposal.

If your conference is proposed outside the U.S., a local geophysical or equivalent organization should be asked to consider sponsorship to avoid the appearance of unilateral action in a foreign country. Sponsorship does not have to be in the form of financial assistance.  AGU staff can assist with soliciting sponsorships. Chapman Conference conveners and program committee members can recommend potential sponsors.

AGU takes full responsibility for managing conference finances including the development of the conference budget and setting the registration rates. Revenue comes primarily from registration fees and sponsorship.

Please note: AGU is not a financial resource for the AGU Chapman conferences; each conference must be self-supporting. Registration fees vary per conference requirements (i.e., food and beverage, audio-visual, and AGU’s logistics, technical and administrative support). In order to decrease the cost for conference participants, conveners are encouraged to seek external funding to support the conference and attendee travel.

Ideally, funding agencies will both attend and be involved your Chapman’s planning.  It’s important that scientists work closely with their program managers to ensure that science and funding are appropriately aligned.

The conveners are ultimately responsibility for the scientific program. This program should be designed in a manner that contributes to the conference fulfilling its goals of changing the field of science. AGU will support the conveners in designing different dynamic and engaging session formats, including virtual sessions for an impactful meeting.

The program should include establishing a scientific plan for the conference with a list of identified speakers and their willingness to participate. The program should also establish the daily themes for presentations, discussions, posters, panels and, if appropriate, scientific field trips.

There should always be some free time allowed for informal gatherings and discussions. When preparing the schedule, note that having sessions from the early morning to the end of day is sometimes counterproductive.

All Chapman Conferences should include a related data session or select data presentations encouraging the understanding of data management best practices in the complementary Earth and space science domains.

The information presented at Chapman Conferences lends itself to publication.  The Conference Convener must include a publication plan as part of the proposal. Publication outputs may take the form of conference reports, peer-reviewed journal articles and/or a book. All publication proposals are subject to review by the appropriate editor. AGU must first refuse to publish a product before the Conveners can go to a non-AGU publisher. To propose a special issue of an AGU journal, contact the relevant editor in chief. To propose a book, please review the guidelines and contact the AGU Books Editor Ritu Bose.

Sample proposal

Get started on your own Chapman Conference proposal by downloading and reviewing our sample proposal (PDF). 

Checklist for Chapman Conference proposals

Interested individuals should contact Victoria Forlini. Proposed AGU Chapman Conferences can be held on the same or similar topics as previous or upcoming conferences, however justification is required. Start your conference by following our checklist:
  • 1
    Create a written summary, including scientific topics, objectives and goals.
  • 2
    Prepare a preliminary list of key speakers and anticipated number of participants (including students and young professionals).
  • 3
    Provide contact information for confirmed co-conveners and program committee (and conveners’ curricula vitae).
  • 4
    Outline the general format and schedule. Suggest conference dates and duration; view the Timing/Scheduling a Chapman Conference section for AGU policy and guidelines.
  • 5
    Offer location preferences that will promote conference objectives and describe scientific field trips, if applicable.
  • 6
    List co-sponsors and their role (non-financial support) as well as probable sources of financial support (for travel grants and/or conference expenses).
  • 7
    Cite anticipated publications such as conference reports, journal articles and/or a book.
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Convener resources for approved Chapmans

AGU staff and conveners will work together to produce a highly successful conference. AGU partners with conveners of approved conferences in the following areas:

Grant funding is the second step of the Chapman proposal process.  Conveners will revise their Chapman proposal, as appropriate, and submit it to various funding agencies for travel and meeting support.  This financial support is a critical step toward ensuring a successful Chapman Conference.  While AGU is available to submit the grant proposal, the conveners will write it.  Conveners can submit the grant proposal directly to the funding agency but AGU must be named as a funding recipient.  As such the money is used by AGU to directly pay for food and beverage and meeting space rental fees.  Because AGU does not charge overhead, ideally the money would be paid by the funding agency directly to AGU.  In addition to requesting funds for AGU to pay for the meeting venue, conveners may also request travel support for attendees, e.g., airfare and hotel.  The goal is to minimize costs for attendees, including minimizing the registration fee. Conveners should work with AGU and the funding agency to assure that all necessary details for submission have been completed.

AGU staff assumes responsibility for contracting all services for the conference. AGU staff contracts with the facility and arranges for necessary deposits, food and beverage service, audio-visual equipment, and transportation. AGU staff has ultimate responsibility for all conference services including setting registration fees. The conveners should not pre-arrange facility contracts or other services required for the conference.

Conveners will assist in the preparation of announcements and pre-conference communications to be published in Eos and other appropriate news sources, and for the web. AGU staff prepares final copy for marketing pieces. Registration and housing information is sent to all who contribute to the conference program or express an interest in attending.

AGU receives the abstracts and forwards copies to the conveners. The conveners and program committee arrange the program and provide the schedule to AGU. Abstracts or extended abstracts are published in a program distributed at the conference. The program is for attendees only and is not given or sold to others. The program, with abstracts, is also published online by AGU. The convener’s primary responsibility is managing the scientific program. AGU will maintain an abstract management system to collect abstracts and will support abstract submitters, the conveners, and the program committee. The conveners and program committee are responsible for arranging the program in the abstract management system.

It is often advantageous to include poster sessions at Chapman Conferences. Some results can be presented more effectively and efficiently with posters. Posters allow more variety in types of graphic displays: charts, schematics, maps, photographs, and computer outputs. Poster presentations also give participants the opportunity for detailed discussions with colleagues with the technical materials conveniently displayed. By mixing regular sessions with poster sessions, authors have more time to exchange ideas and results. Please note, including poster sessions at a site in a remote location can be costly. This can be determined when AGU staff develops a preliminary conference budget. AGU has now implemented the display of ePosters at Chapman Conferences; please review the ePoster guidelines.

Chapman conference publications

Conveners of Chapman conferences are encouraged to publish scientific developments in the field in the form of a book or journal special collection. Below are some of the most recent Chapman conference publications. You can also find meeting reports for each Chapman conference on

Recent Chapman publications

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Victoria Forlini

Director, Meetings, AGU

202.777.7427 | [email protected]

Chapman Conference archives

Review our past Chapman Conference programs by year.