General Tips for Organizing Astrofest

Things to do:

* Collect Abstracts and Titles and print program

  • Early August - send an email to astro-events telling everyone the date of AstroFest?, format of AstroFest?, and due dates for abstracts, slides, and poster sessions.
    • Notes: Be careful about who you say has "reserved" talk slots. There is not enough time in the day for all grad students, faculty members, researchers, and postdocs to give talks. All grad students are required to give talks, so you have to leave time for all students.
    • We tried to have a "2 talks per research group" limit, but having already said in our email that all post-docs had a spot reserved, we had to expand that a bit for the Savin group.
  • 2 weeks before AstroFest? - abstracts and titles due
  • 1 week before AstroFest? - slides due
  • 2 days before AstroFest? - send out a tentative schedule of speakers. Some people will have time constraints so the schedule might have to be modified.
    • Notes: Most people were pretty good about sending in abstracts on time, but slides were pretty slow to come in [2011].
  • 1 or 2 days before AstroFest? - send out finalized program.
    • Copy ~80 copies of this program the day before, for distribution.

* Poster Session

  • Includes choosing judges, selecting the prize, finding space for posters, and emailing possible contestants to confirm their entries, abstracts, and titles.
  • Discuss in advance when the judges will make their final selection - make sure there is plenty of time reserved to look at posters and talk to contestants.
  • Since there are other posters in the hall, have some sort of official label for contest entrants.
  • Marcel has provided [| a rubric for the professors] to use when judging the posters.

* Collect all slides, and check that everything works on the Lab Laptop. Occasionally a movie or image will not show, and the person will have to resubmit.

* Buy Food


* Hold a sign up for 1 minute and again for 15 seconds, then stand when time is officially up.

* You are going to have to be direct, and clear when the time is up. Don't worry about being rude, it feels awkward, but you have to stop people to keep things moving.

* It's a good idea to have 2 people with the speakers - one to time and one to switch the slide shows.

* Before each session, open all relevant slide shows on the computer. Using "Spaces", you can have up to 16 separate windows (we used 9) and load one presentation in each window, in order. Then simply switch between windows to get from show to show, quick and easy.

* Make sure the white board is available to any speaker who wants it. Make sure all the markers work in advance. Make sure there is an eraser.

* Have seats in front reserved for speakers of the next session. An aisle is also nice in the set up of the room - but make sure there is a space in the back that is seat free, so you can get to it!

* One of the couches and one of the chairs can go on top of the table in the computer lab area, for nice elevated seating.


* Expect about 50 people for breakfast and 80-100 people for lunch.

* You will need to FINALIZE your order at least a couple days in advance, depending on what you get, so scout out restaurants and caterers early.

* Be considerate and include vegetarian and vegan options that are properly labeled. Not all caterers/restaurant managers are familiar with these concepts so ask specifically if the food has meat, egg, milk, dairy, etc. Having several vegetarian options is much appreciated.

* Remember plates, utensils, cups. The place you get lunch may provide them (as Wondee Siam did), but make sure you ASK.

* There is a department credit card which can be used for large purchases - if they are done by PHONE. Only Ayune and Millie can use it, and they have to sign for things, as well.

* Similarly, there is a tax deductible form you can give a restaurant so that they won't charge you taxes on the food.

* If you spend $40 or less in cash (and keep the receipt), Millie and Ayune can reimburse you right away from the petty cash fund. This can be useful for small or last minute purchases.

* There are two giant coffee makers, and each one takes about 30 minutes to brew a batch. At the beginning of the day, fill them both full so they're ready to go at the start of astrofest, and keep refilling them from the two smaller coffee machines, which brew a lot faster. Just keep running these all day, people like their coffee.

* If you are having delivery, have a clear place where the food is going to go when it arrives. Make sure it arrives at least 20-30 minutes prior to when lunch is scheduled to begin, so you can set up, organize, and open the trays. Make sure utensils are in a logical place.

* If you go to Absolute Bagels, be aware they only accept cash, not credit card. If you're only getting 4 dozen bagels with cream cheese, you can probably just go the day of (they open at 6 am), and they will cut the bagels for you if you ask.

2011 Specific notes

* We had 59 talks: 3 sessions of 9 apiece in the morning, then 4 sessions of 8 apiece in the afternoon. We planned for 5 minutes per person, plus 5 minutes wiggle room each session, plus 15 minute breaks between each session. The 5 minute wiggle room leaves space for announcements before and after each session, and slow transitions.

* The schedule ran as follows:

9:00-9:30 - Breakfast
9:30-10:20 - Session 1
10:20-10:35 - Break
10:35-11:25 - Session 2
11:25-11:40 - Break
11:40-12:30 - Session 3
12:30-1:30 - Lunch and Poster session
1:30-2:15 - Session 4
2:15-2:30 - Break
2:30-3:15 - Session 5
3:15-3:30 - Break
3:30-4:15 - Session 6
4:15-4:30 - Break
4:30-5:15 - Session 7

  • In general, things ran basically on time. Some sessions ended early, some were right on, some were a minute late, but all in all, it went pretty well. But you have to keep on some people to stop talking.
  • You will need to herd people back into the library a few minutes in advance if you want to start up the next section on time, by making an announcement.

* For breakfast, we got 4 dozen bagels from Absolute (just about right), plus 1.5 lbs of plain cream cheese (which ran out before the bagels did) and 1 lb of tofutti (which was about right). That cost around $70. In addition, from Fairway, we got 4 dozen mini muffins and 1 small fruit tray from Fairway, 4 large orange juices, 1 small cranberry and 1 small apple juice. The juice ran out early.

* For lunch, we ordered from Wondee Siam V for 80 people (total cost, $600). This got us: 2 pad thai with chicken, 2 Kee Mow with tofu, 2 fried rice with tofu, 1 spicy string beans, 1 cashew nut, 160 spring rolls, 1 tray jasmine rice, and 1 tray brown rice. We had 1 full pad thai and 1 full fried rice left over.We had a few other misc leftovers, but those were the biggest ones. The spicy string beans ran out first. ALL the spring rolls disappeared.

* Similarly, we bought 8 2-liter bottles of soda (plus a couple leftover bottles in the fridge), putting them out at lunch. They all ran out, by the end of the day.

* Between lunch, breakfast, and extras (Drinks, muffins, extra utensils, etc, which ended up as about $100 at Fairway), we spent approximately $800 on food.

2013 Specific notes

we had ~ 100 people coming, where we expected only ~ 80. So there was a slight shortage for lunch.

suggestions for slides collecting:
* put "abstract (presenter name)" / "slide (presenter name)" in subject line of their emails for abstract / slides
* encourage pdf format
* put their name in the filename of their slides
* a lot people forgot to send their title for the abstract (they only have it in their powerpoints which made it hard to search), so remind them in the initial email

Our sessions are similar to past years (totally 50 people, 4 min talk, 1 min question):
Session 1 (9:30-10:20) 9 speakers, then 15 min coffee break
Session 2 (10:35-11:25) 9 speakers, then 15 min coffee break
Session 3 (11:40-12:30) 9 speakers
Session 4 (2:00-2:50) 9 speakers, then 15 min coffee break
Session 5 (3:05-3:40) 7 speakers, then 15 min coffee break
Session 6 (3:55-4:30) 7 speakers

task lists and food ordering resources -