The American Physical Society and Planstone a True Partnership

The American Physical Society (APS) does not have an “off-season”. With over 20 meetings a year, there’s always something to do. APS advances physics by fostering an inclusive, global community dedicated to science and society. To accomplish this vital work for this association, time is of the essence; they need to be as efficient as possible.

APS has been partnering with Planstone for the past three years, utilizing abstract/submission management and speaker management to collect and facilitate over 30,000 abstracts per year. At Planstone, we work hard to be a true educational partner to help cut down on pain points, trying to save time for the client and providing guidance based on our over two decades of experience.

APS came to Planstone with a pain point and an idea. Since APS accepts all abstract submissions, we needed to create a software solution that would allow the many committee members that plan the curriculum to do so in an easy, efficient manner. APS calls this process sorting, but it truly is session building.

When APS came to Planstone, they had a clear vision in mind. They wanted a tool instead of trying to sort through all the submissions using Excel. Something that would make it easier for sometimes hundreds of sorters to use at once. It needed to be easy to use, scalable, and have great functionality. After listening to the team in late January of 2023, we started working on a better solution.

The result is a dual screen. The left side of the screen is a view of the abstracts collected and the right side of the screen is the meeting container or sessions. Both sides of the screen can be filtered, showing sorters (subject matter experts) only what they need to see. From there, they can hover over the titles to see the information from the abstract to determine if that abstract should be included in the session that is up on the right side of the screen. If so, they just have to drag and drop it in! There is a minute counter that turns red if too many abstracts are added to the session.

The idea behind the sorting tool is to make the process of putting sessions together more efficient, save time, and make it easy on the sorters themselves; for APS, that would be volunteer members doing this. The first test for this new tool was the Division of Plasma Physics (DPP) meeting. The meeting has over 2000 attendees with over 2000 submissions between abstracts (Oral, posters, invited) and selections.

“We wanted to use the great components within Planstone, break it down, and formulate a way to make it easier for our sorters,” noted Emily Loomis, Scientific Program Specialist for APS. This meant Planstone IT worked with the APS IT folks to ensure the product was delivered as requested. APS used test sorters from their membership who provided feedback based on rounds of testing, which APS IT folks could relay back to the Planstone team to turn around and implement.

Fast forward to mid-August, and the sorting tool was rolled out to the 90 APS member sorters. “Planstone was very helpful in the way the templates were documented with all the information, and creating a new type of “Ready Set Go” call for this and being on call to troubleshoot anything with this new tool,” mentioned Alex Cannon, Senior Scientific Program Specialist.

Now, this new way of “sorting” or “session building” for abstracts and submission is being rolled out to clients in the 4th quarter of 2023, all thanks to APS. We have added a new feature to APS’ sorting which incorporates the reviewer scoring. We currently have a client utilizing this as a second round of reviews with their committee chairs creating the sessions.

Client and vendor relationships are the backbone of successful associations. APS brought to light a pain point and idea on how to solve it, with Planstone taking the feedback and finding a way to make it happen is a highlight of what a true partnership should be.

If you are interested in seeing how Planstone’s session building can assist with your future conference, please contact Tom Heneghan at

Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results. - Andrew Carnegie