The Joint Magnetism and Magnetic Materials - Intermag Conference, one of the most reputable series of conferences in magnetism, jointly sponsored by AIP Publishing and IEEE Magnetics Society, had its 15th edition in rather challenging times: January 10-14, 2022, amidst the COVID-19 pandemics that affected the whole world, just a few weeks after the outburst of the omicron variant. This had a significant impact on the organization and planning of the event, certainly making this edition a conference like no other. This very bold claim is supported by different facts that made us organize it in a way that was never thought of at the previous edition of the Joint Conference, back in 2019 in Washington.1
After some events that had to be canceled and a very large number online meetings in the 2020-2021 period, we were finally able to get together in New Orleans (those of us who wanted to gather in person), while those who wanted to keep distances or were affected by travel restrictions could also participate by remaining in the virtual world.
This was a challenge by itself, as the organization implies the preparation of the conference in two different realms and, afterwards, finding joining points to combine the experience of the on-site and online participants. But the challenge was certainly worth pursuing. The original design of the logo, made by Jia Yan Law well before the pandemic started, was already premonitory (Fig. 1). It showed our eagerness to celebrate with colleagues with a main focus on magnetism; that we want to combine magnetism with human nature and feelings, not just cold screens and attending lectures in pajamas from the “comfort” of our sofas. But, at the same time, the jazz notes that appear in the logo are connected to improvisation, and, the last days before the conference started, we had to react quickly to significant changes brought by omicron.
We structured the organization based on three pillars:
Safety: that is why we had to take the difficult decision of constraining the posters to the online part of the conference and we even installed a COVID-19 testing center on-site.
Science: with an excellent program of thought-provoking contributions.
Interaction between people: with extended social sessions that also involved entertainment.
All in person attendees made a big personal effort in very uncertain times to be in New Orleans, which we deeply appreciate. Therefore, our main commitment was to bring them the best possible experience. Therefore, high quality science was accompanied by local food and drinks and live jazz music in the evenings. We also created new activities, like the Sensors Challenge, targeted to students, with the aim to boost interaction among participants on the basis of our common interest on different aspects of magnetism.
This hybrid conference model was particularized to the worldwide attendance of the conference by avoiding real time streaming as the huge differences in time zones between New Orleans and the location of a large fraction of online attendees made it impractical. Rather than streaming, the most important sessions taking place in New Orleans (plenary session, special sessions, and symposia) were recorded while they took place and they were made subsequently available on demand to all participants for an extended period of time. All presentations were prerecorded and submitted by the authors to form the online program of the conference. Those present on-site delivered their talks live during well attended sessions. In practice, this meant that the conference had two programs: a general online program and an on-site program that was a subset of the general one. In this way, all the content was available to all the attendees, even if some part of it had to be consumed asynchronously.
The online program consisted of 1263 presentations divided in 71 contributed oral sessions and 39 poster sessions. 7 symposia completed the program, with topics on “Application of Symmetry Breaking in Correlated and Quantum Magnetic Materials,” “Spintronic Diodes: Challenges and New Directions,” “Exploring Magnetism at the Nanoscale with Scanning NV Magnetometry,” “Frontiers of Orbital Physics: Statics, Dynamics, and Transport of Orbital Angular Momentum,” “Freestanding Complex Oxide Films: A New Paradigm for Magnetic Heterostructures,” “Soft Magnetic Components and Materials for Emerging Power Conversion Applications,” and “Next Generation Electrical Machines.” The on-site program included 23 on-site oral sessions presented across 4 days in 4 parallel sessions, with a total of 183 live presentations.
In addition to the regular program, there were several special sessions that took place either online or on-site. On the first day of the conference, a Tutorial on “Quantum Magnonics” was released online with lectures from Yasunobu Nakamura (Tokyo University), Silvia Viola-Kusminskiy (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light), and Yi Li (Argonne National Laboratory). Those physically in New Orleans on Monday, January 10 had the opportunity to attend the Special Session “Current Trends in Magnetism,” with Axel Hoffmann (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Tim Mewes (University of Alabama), and Caroline Ross (MIT) as speakers. The Plenary Lecture on “Nanoscale Magnetoelasticity, An Overlooked Opportunity,” delivered live on Wednesday, January 12 by Greg Carman (University of California, Los Angeles) also deserves a special mention due to its quality.
Two special sessions on “Entrepreneurship in Magnetism” were scheduled. Those on-site in New Orleans could attend the presentations by Sam Kernion (CorePower Magnetics) and Paul Ohodnicki (University of Pittsburgh and CorePower Magnetics). The online attendees had the chance to follow those by Jean-Philippe Attané and Lucian Prejbeanu, both from Spintec Laboratory. The traditional Women in Magnetism Networking Event was also scheduled in both realms of the program, with significant participation on both venues. “Meet the Experts” was offered in New Orleans, with on-site Experts Axel Hoffmann (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Beth Stadler (University of Minnesota), and online with Experts Russell Cowburn (University of Cambridge), Michael Farle (University of Duisburg-Essen), Julie Grollier (CNRS Thales), Yuko Osokoshi (Osaka Prefecture University), Hua-Xin Peng (Zhejiang University), Prem Piramanayagam (Nanyang Technological University), and Ramamoorthy Ramesh (University of California, Berkeley). These brought a broad distribution of scientific topics and geographical locations.
The IEEE Awards Ceremony recognized the winners of the 2022 Achievement Award (Hideo Ohno, Tohoku University), 2022 Mid-Career Award (Ilya Krivorotov, University of California at Irvine), 2022 Early-Career Award (Qiming Shao, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology), and 2022 Distinguished Service Award (Pallavi Dhagat, Oregon State University).
Each conference selects a set of finalists for the best student presentation award. In New Orleans, following the long-standing tradition of the Joint Conferences, the candidates had to present their work live. This year the award was given to Sujung Kim (University of California, Santa Cruz) for her talk “Maximizing Strong Magnon-Phonon Coupling in a Single CoFe Nanomagnet.” For several years, the Magnetism as Art Showcase highlights the beauty of magnetism and magnetic materials. In this conference, the winner of the competition was Semih Ener (Technical University of Darmstadt) for his picture “Winter day in magnetic forest.”
Selected manuscripts related to presentations at this conference, after a rigorous peer review process, have been published in AIP Advances and IEEE Transactions on Magnetics. This will keep the memory of some of the most relevant research connected to the 15th Joint MMM-Intermag Conference. Editors for AIP Advances were Cindi Dennis (Publications Chair, NIST), Claas Abert (University of Vienna), Fengxia Hu (Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics and State Key Laboratory of Magnetism), Naoki Ito (Hitachi Metals, Ltd.), Claudia Mewes (University of Alabama), Eiji Saitoh (Tohoku University), and Thomas Woodcock (Leibniz IFW Dresden). For IEEE Transactions on Magnetics, editors were Nicoleta Lupu (Publications Chair, NIRDTP), Amr Adly (Cairo University), Yacine Amara (Université du Havre), Radhika Barua (Virginia Commonwealth University), Jonathan Bird (Portland State University), David Dorrell (University of the Witwatersrand), Min-Fu Hsieh (National Cheng Kung University), Ron Jansen (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), Gangping Ju (Seagate Technology), Chunhua Liu (The University of Hong Kong), Thierry Lubin (Université de Lorraine), Frédéric Mazaleyrat (Universite Paris-Saclay), France Kenji Nakamura (Tohoku University), Iulian Nistor (mqSemi AG), Johannes J. H. Paulides (Eindhoven University of Technology), S. N. Piramanayagam (Nanyang Technological University), Philip Pong (New Jersey Institute of Technology), Rachid Sbiaa (Sultan Qaboos University), Alexandru Stancu (University Al. I. Cuza), Ciro Visone (University of Naples Federico II), and Dan Wei (Tsinghua University). They all did an excellent job in handling smoothly the manuscripts with a very tight schedule, while keeping the quality of the publication to its maximum.
This Conference would not have been possible if the Management Committee would not have been willing to go out of their comfort zone and adapt to a continuously changing reality. None of us, when accepting to serve on the Committee, could foresee what was coming and how the reality of conference organization would change in such an abrupt way. I had the privilege to have the best colleagues in the team and I express my most heartfelt acknowledgement for their excellent work, for the great support that they provided during some of the dark moments when new COVID waves emerged and threatened the organization of the meeting, and for the excellent moments that we had in person in New Orleans. My deepest appreciation goes to Chris Rea (Seagate Technology), Matthew Willard (Case Western Reserve University), Rie Umetsu (Tohoku University), Hariharan Srikanth (University of South Florida), Cindi Dennis (NIST), Nicoleta Lupu (NIRDTP), Brad Dodrill (Lake Shore Cryotronics), Michael McHenry (Carnegie Mellon University), Brian Kirby (NIST), Diana Leitão (TU Eindhoven), Christopher Marrows (University of Leeds), Yayoi Takamura (University of California, Davis), Rudolf Schäfer (IFW Dresden), Bill Burke (AIPP), Melissa Patterson (AIPP), Diana Schlamadinger (AIPP), Molly Bartkowski (Simply Vintage), Regina Mohr (Simply Vintage), Shelbie Jenkins (Simply Vintage), and Ashley Cesare (Simply Vintage). I would also like to thank our sponsors, AIP Publishing and IEEE Magnetics Society, who entrusted us with a great opportunity to bring back the magnetism community to in-person meetings, and trusted and supported us throughout the process.
The organization process was analogous to riding a roller coaster, with abrupt changes of speed and direction along the way imposed by the circumstances. It also ended in the same way as roller coasters do: with a smooth landing and so much excitement that, like kids that want to have a new ride, we eagerly wait for the next conference to meet with colleagues and discuss science in person again.