March 17, 2020

Dear AAPA Members & Registrants,

These are extraordinary times. We all share concern for the health of our communities -- families, friends, loved ones, and fellow AAPA members. An essential part of community care is keeping everyone safe. With these concerns of health and safety in mind, the most important decision we could make was to cancel our 2020 Annual Meeting. We thank our members and registrants for your patience and support as we work through all the implications of this decision.


Below are answers to some of your most immediate questions; we will address more longer-term questions in due time.

AAPA Decisions

Why did the AAPA cancel the 2020 Annual Meeting in Los Angeles?

The COVID-19 virus is spreading quickly. Essential measures to contain the virus include cancellation of large gatherings, curtailment of national and international travel, and social distancing. On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a national State of Emergency and closed US borders to all non-U.S. citizens. In an effort to keep AAPA registrants and members safe, and determining that the meetings are impossible to hold, the Executive Committee voted unanimously to cancel the 2020 Annual Meeting.

What are the financial costs of the decision to cancel?

Potentially great. The AAPA signs contracts with hotels and vendors to offer annual meetings in the current and future years. This year’s contract (like many) contains a termination clause that requires the AAPA to pay $905,000 to the Marriott if we choose to cancel the meeting. The contract also states that if we choose to legally contest the penalty fee and subsequently lose the court case, we must also pay the Marriott’s legal fees. These fees, along with costs already incurred from planning and preparing for our meeting, and the prospect of returning registration fees, may end up costing the AAPA over $1,500,000.

What is the AAPA doing to avoid paying penalties?

We have initiated negotiations with Marriott Hotel International and the JW Marriott LA Live. Our contract contains an “Impossibility” (force majeure) clause that indicates that if holding our meeting is IMPOSSIBLE, then the contract can be terminated. We have stated in our letter of termination to the JW Marriott LA Live that the stipulation has been met. Their attorneys may not agree. Hence, in good faith, we are negotiating with JW Marriott LA Live in an effort to come to an agreement that benefits both parties. One option, for instance, is to “postpone” the Los Angeles contract by holding our 2024 annual meeting in Los Angeles at the JW Marriott LA Live. We hope to resolve any dispute quickly and to have a clear grasp of the AAPA finances within the next few months.

Does this decision affect next year’s annual meeting in Baltimore?

Potentially. The AAPA hotel and other contracts for the 2021 meeting are technically unaffected by this year’s decision. However, having cash-on-hand to pay the down payments on schedule might become extremely difficult should negotiations with Marriott prove unsuccessful.

Will the AAPA name change vote take place this year?

Unfortunately, no. According to our Bylaws, the motion to change the name of the AAPA must be voted upon at a business meeting and passed by 2/3 of the voting members in attendance. The motion, therefore, will be presented at the 2021 Business Meeting in Baltimore. This situation has prompted members of the Executive Committee to begin a review of the Bylaws in an effort to update policies and procedures—especially in this digital age.

Refunds for Meeting Registration, Tours, & Hotel

How do I get a refund for my meeting registration fee?

Every registrant will be welcomed to apply for a refund. For registrants who can comfortably donate all or a portion of their 2020 registration fees, or donate more to the AAPA, each dollar will help offset the losses we will experience this year. All donations are tax deductible.

Information regarding refunds and donations of registration fees will be made available shortly.

March 30, 2020 Update: A registration reimbursement/donation form is now available.

How do I get a refund for a pre-paid meeting excursion?

Information regarding refunds and donations of excursion fees will be made available shortly.

April 3, 2020 Update: Burk & Associates, the AAPA's management company, is contacting excursion registrants directly to coordinate refunds.

Do I need to cancel my hotel reservation?

YES!!! Each attendee is responsible for canceling their reservation. This can be completed by contacting the JW Marriott Live LA directly at 1.213.765.8600 or by using their online reservation system.

2020 Workshops & Presentations (Podium & Poster)

Will workshops be available online?

We will be discussing options with each workshop organizer over the next few weeks.

Will symposia be available online?

We will be discussing options with each symposium organizer over the next few weeks. In many cases, the symposium presentations will be uploaded similarly to all other presentations (see below), and first authors will receive an email containing instructions.

Can I present my individual podium or poster presentation online?

Yes. Each first author of a presentation (podium or poster) will receive an email containing information about uploading a PDF of their presentation, such as their slides or poster, and/or a link to a video version, to the AAPA website. Uploading these materials is optional. You can submit a PDF, a video, both, or neither. We are only accepting PDFs, and YouTube and Vimeo links, due to security issues. Videos of podium presentations must not be longer than 15 minutes and videos of poster presentations must not be longer than 5 minutes. PDFs and video links will appear on your abstract page in the online program.

Please wait for our email instructions before submitting any materials.

03.19.2020 Update: Please visit this page for further details on online presentations.


Can I submit my 2020 abstract for the 2021 meeting in Baltimore?

Unfortunately, we cannot accept 2020 abstracts for the 2021 meeting since each abstract has been subjected to peer review, accepted, and formally published in AJPA Vol. 171, Issue S69.

We strongly encourage authors to upload the presentation of their 2020 abstract (whether poster or podium) to our online platform for all to enjoy. We look forward to seeing your new research at the 2021 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD.

Can I add my abstract to my CV?

Absolutely! Since every accepted abstract is formally published in the AJPA, each author is entitled to add their work to their CV as a published abstract.

An example of how it would look on your CV might be:

2020 Author 1, Author 2, “Title of 2020 Abstract” (Abstract). American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Volume 171, Issue S69: [page number].


AAPA Awards & Awardees

What happens to my Pollitzer Student Travel Award?

The Pollitzer Student Travel Award is an honor bestowed on you by the AAPA. Therefore, cancelling the meeting does not change the fact that you have received this honor, and you should include the accolade on your CV as a 2020 entry.

As for the monetary aspect of the award, rest assured, we know that the meeting cancelation has financial consequences for all students. The funds associated with the award will still be available to you to help defray already-incurred travel costs. These 2020 funds cannot be automatically rolled over to 2021, although we are looking into the possibility of using these funds to cover a changed ticket fee to Baltimore in 2021. Please bear with us, as we are still working out the details.


All Pollitzer awardees will be contacted soon by the Chair of the Student Awards Committee with more information and instructions.

Will AAPA Student Awards winners be chosen this year?

Unfortunately, no. Without a means to evaluate each presentation and speak with each student presenter, we cannot effectively judge submissions.

When will the 2020 Darwin, Lasker, and Communication and Outreach Awardees be celebrated?

The Charles Darwin Lifetime Achievement Award, the Gabriel Lasker Service Award, and the AAPA Communication and Outreach Award are accomplishments that will not be overshadowed by a virus. The Executive Committee will be inviting our 2020 award winners to the 2021 Annual Business Meeting in Baltimore where their work will be highlighted and accomplishments deservingly celebrated.

How can I help?

Share your thoughts and ideas. Be patient as we navigate through the months ahead, and please know that the Executive Committee is working hard in the best interest of us all.

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