Report from Ming-Chang Liu and Kevin McKeegan, Co-chairs of the MetSoc2023 Local Organization Committee
The 85th Annual Meeting of the Meteoritical Society was held in August 2023 on the campus of the University of California – Los Angeles (UCLA) in Westwood, California. MetSoc2023 was the 5th time the Society has met at UCLA, the most recent prior meeting being in 2002.
Scientific talks were presented in two parallel sessions at the Luskin Conference Center, either live or streamed via zoom; there were also two in-person poster sessions held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. There were 332 scientific contributions, approximately equally split between talks and posters. A very large majority (~94 %) of the 342 meeting attendees made the trip to Los Angeles, and most were housed on campus (at the Luskin Hotel, the UCLA Guest House, or student dormitories).
All events during the conference were hosted on the UCLA campus including a welcome party at the Sculpture Garden, the annual banquet, held outdoors in front of Royce Hall, and the Barringer Invitational Lecture, held at the Fowler Museum on Monday evening. Amy Mainzer of the University of Arizona presented the Barringer Lecture to an attentive audience of conference attendees and the public; her talk was entitled “Earth-Approaching Asteroids and Comets: Opportunity and Risk.” A pre-conference town-hall was organized by the Impact Cratering Committee of the Meteoritical Society to discuss “Goals, Perspectives, and Challenges” in Earth-based crater research. Conference attendees also had opportunity to learn about the Astromaterials Data System at a luncheon and town-hall.
Wednesday morning witnessed the presentation of the 2023 Society Awards, the 2023 Pellas-Ryder Award, and the 2022 McKay and Wiley Awards. These awards were followed by the distinguished lectures. The Leonard Medal Lecture, “Pallasites to Presolar Grains: Looking Inside Asteroids, the Solar Nebula, and Stars with Isotopes and Trace Elements”, was given by Andy Davis, and the Barringer Medal Lecture, “Spinels in Sediments and the Astronomical Perspective on Earth’s History — What Can 20 Tons of Rock and 40,000 Litres of Hydrochloric Acid Tell Us?”, was presented by Birger Schmitz.
In lieu of the semi-traditional Wednesday afternoon “boat trip” (or equivalent local cultural exploration), the conference organizers collaborated with the UCLA SPACE Institute to sponsor a plenary symposium about current and planned exploration missions and sample return from inner solar system bodies. Excellent talks and discussions were presented by planetary scientists leading these efforts including Laurie Leshin, Nancy Chabot, Linda Elkins-Tanton, Hal Levison, Shogo Tachibana, Lindsay Keller, Tomohiro Usui, and Meenakshi Wadhwa. UCLA’s Dean of Physical Sciences, Miguel Garcia-Garibay, welcomed the public to the event which was followed by a garden reception and, soon afterward, the banquet.
Guests enjoyed a lovely SoCal evening for the banquet, so typical for this time of year that meeting organizers had earlier confidently quipped that “we have arranged for it to not rain.” Those same folks (i.e., us) were simultaneously sobered and amused when 5 days later tropical storm Hillary soaked LA, the first such storm to hit Los Angeles in 84 years! And, in case you’re wondering, there really was no ‘plan B’ for the banquet (but perhaps Frederick Leonard was looking out for us?). With the conference ending at noon on Friday, a few dozen folks stayed around to take advantage of some post-meeting excursions: to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (courtesy of Director Leshin), to the Getty Museum, and to the Hollywood Bowl for the “Tchaikovsky Spectacular with Fireworks”.
The meeting was hosted by UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences (EPSS) and by the Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL). The local organizing committee included Gerardo Dominguez (CSSM), Yang Liu (JPL), Chi Ma (CIT), Alan Rubin (UCLA), Paul Warren (UCLA), François Tissot (CIT), Frank Kyte (UCLA), Nozomi Matsuda (UCLA), Ed Young (UCLA), and Bidong Zhang (UCLA), in addition to the two co-chairs. Ed Young chaired the program committee which included James Day, Steve Desch, Philipp Heck, Devin Schrader, Quinn Shollenberger, and Myriam Tellus in addition to members of the local organizing committee. Gerardo Dominguez and François Tissot ably chaired the committee which allocated slightly over $80k in travel awards.
We are very grateful to those institutions who provided financial support especially the Barringer Crater Company, Elsevier, Planetary Studies Foundation, O. Richard Norton Fund, The Macovich Meteorite Collection, The David B. Gheesling Trust, The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum, International Meteorite Collectors Association, JPL, the Meteoritical Society, NASA PSD, CAMECA Instruments, and the UCLA Division of Physical Sciences. This meeting would not have been possible without the professional support from the LPI staff. We also greatly appreciate help from student (and postdoc) and UCLA Meteorite Gallery volunteers as well as the support of the EPSS department staff and the Meteoritical Society leadership.