Is a PUI registration fee category possible for conferences?

I'm really fortunate in how well my collaboration is going. We've had several conference abstract acceptances for my work and am hoping for more. Before the collaboration, I would go to 1-2 conferences per year, and the costs would generally fit within my institutional faculty development grant allotment, helped dramatically by the fact that one conference was in Chicago and had no registration fee, due to my AAPM membership. 

However, in this calendar year, I have attended one conference already and have three more to attend for the remainder of the year. And the costs are stacking up. Here's an outlay of the conference registration fees I will have for the year, even after taking advantage of early registration savings, one-day rates when I can swing it, etc.:

Conference 1: $815
Conference 2: $575
Conference 3: $695 (I'm sneaking in with the one-day rate, $340)
Conference 4: free (but I otherwise pay $447 for yearly membership, out of my personal funds)

Registration fees for conferences 1 and 2 are more than my faculty development grant fund amount from my college for the entire year. These costs listed above do not include airfare, hotel, and food. And they're lower than they could be, because I pay more than $1000 out of personal funds each year for professional society memberships. I have some remaining funds from my start up that I can draw from, but that won't last forever. My department chipped in to help with costs for Conference 1, but they of course can't do that for everything, and the other faculty members deserve any additional support we can give them as well. Another obvious place for getting funds is from fringe funds from grants, but I haven't yet been able to land an external one (although I'm feeing a teensy bit positive about my last application round).

In short, these costs are really tough for faculty from primarily undergraduate institutions! Travel costs, such as airfare or food aren't controllable from a faculty status perspective, but I wonder if conference fees could be.

A natural question is to wonder if I really do need to go to "all these" conferences. In my mind, yes. One focuses on imaging from a clinical perspective, one on the field of medical physics primarily from the view of physicists, a third is broadly about medical imaging, and the fourth is a biennial gathering focused solely on breast imaging. These are all elements of what it means to be involved in medical imaging.

 I know absolutely nothing about planning and executing conferences, but I wonder: is there a place for a middle tier of registration costs for faculty at PUIs, somewhere between trainee and full faculty cost? If you have experience planning conferences, especially large-scale mainstream science ones, I'd love to hear about the plausibility.

Blogging Best of Both Worlds: Episode 17, Gender

This week's episode of the podcast Best of Both Worlds was broadly on Gender, although a good bit of the discussion was on gender expectations at work and home, and gender expectations that can be present in toy design and selection.

I'm a physicist so the issues of gender expectation are not unfamiliar to me. I don't have the bandwidth or brain space or ability to write about the issues of gender in physics in one blog post, so I will not attempt to do so. The only thing I would add on that topic is to trust a woman in physics when they say they have faced issues related to their gender. I would also add that men face gender assumptions as well in physics, often assumptions that they will be very aggressive in leveling up in employment or in badgering for a position, or that something is wrong if they are not. We would do well in physics to avoid gender stereotypes for anyone.

Blogging Best of Both Worlds: Episode 15, Mornings

Episode 15 of the Best of Both Worlds podcast was about Mornings. I appreciated that the title itself was not "Morning Routines"! Sarah described her morning routine, and Laura talked about how she doesn't necessarily have one, and that you  might not really need one unless you need to accomplish things daily that can be accomplished only by a firm routine. She mentioned that there is no need to get up at 5:30 AM unless you really need to do so!

I'm fascinated with people describing their morning routines. Before kids, I found them aspirational, but now that I have children and they are quite intense, my ideas have definitely changed.  (I read My Morning Routine mainly for the comic factor.) Here are some things I've come to realize and do in the mornings, somewhat related to being in higher ed.

  • My children are awful sleepers. Things have calmed down a bit since they are both post-24 months, but I have learned that their deepest sleep is early in the night and their most fractured, most easily broken sleep is in the early morning. We live in a so-called "Top 25 Highest Earning Town" and I do not make that kind of a salary, so our house is small, old, and creaky. Thus, I have learned to not get up before they do unless I absolutely have to, because one of them will wake up if I just walk past their door. (However, at least one of them inevitably wakes before 6:30 AM at the very latest, so it's not like I'm lazing about in bed every morning.) 
  • Related to that, I have learned that the margins between kid school start up time and my institution's course schedules in the morning are just too close to have them closely related. So many things can go wrong with course prep and demo set up that it is too risky to have a tight timeline in which I drop off a kid and assume that I will waltz into the classroom ready to go fifteen minutes later.  At the very least, the most probable problem that will occur is that the projection system won't work for my 8 AM course, and our institution's tech office doesn't open until 8 AM, so it won't do me any good to get there early anyway. Additionally, sometimes I will need to doublecheck something related to course prep, which sometimes involves checking in with Physics Prof Twitter, my colleagues, or my husband, and I need to allow morning time to do that. We have also had our fair share of a kid waking up with some kind of medical issue (rash, coughing, etc.) and so I have learned that I need to have margin for my husband and I to call the doctor, make an appointment decision based on urgency and parent availability, etc. So I've learned (more about that later - the learning) for which courses I have flexibility to schedule as I wish, and I've done that so that I can focus on getting people to where they need to be and not having my first professional thing be teaching. For the past few semesters, I've been able to avoid scheduling 8 and 9:15 AM courses, and that has been better for all of us (including the students - they generally hate 8 AM courses).
  • Laura and Sarah talked about trying to use an alarm so that it doesn't wake up other people in the house. When I can't avoid waking up before the kids do, I depend upon my FitBit Alta HR to buzz me at alarm time. At the very least it reduces one element of sound that could wake everyone up. 
  • Most evenings, my husband and I make plans for who is going to shower when the next morning. Having that locked in helps tremendously with making a morning go smoothly.
  • We feed our kids the same breakfast most mornings: a handful of cereal (they don't like it with milk, so strange), cut up fruit, and some string cheese. And my husband just automatically makes the coffee - no wondering about who is going to do that.

Friends, what is your morning routine?