SPAAM is a community of researchers from around the world focusing on ancient metagenomics, affiliated with the International Society of Biomolecular Archaeology
Our primary community space is Slack, and we also have an annual conference and other online events
All career stages are invited, but the emphasis is on providing a welcoming space for early-career researchers
We have a variety of initiatives to support the community, from classes to informal meetings and seminars
SPAAM initiatives and events are supported by a Steering Committee but are often led by SPAAM members; reach out if you have ideas or are interested in helping
SPAAM membership is free, but donations may be requested during the annual meeting– and if you are interested in supporting SPAAM financially, please reach out to the Steering Committee!
Definition of SPAAM and history
SPAAM stands for Standards Precautions & Advances in Ancient Metagenomics. We are a community of researchers from around the world focusing on ancient metagenomics.
We aim to openly share knowledge and experience to find solutions to common challenges and obstacles that the field faces, primarily within online community spaces (slack). We run various collaborative projects for the benefit of the whole community and to progress the field including a regular conference for early career researchers. We have various events and a regular workshop with cycling organisation committees to improve networking.
The idea of SPAAM originated in 2016 from the Standards, Precautions, and Advances in Ancient Metagenomics (SPAAM) conference and publication on ways of improving ancient metagenomics research. Later, it was expanded to become an entire community-led effort and space thanks to the initiative of a small group of researchers in the field of aDNA and metagenomics. We now have over three hundred members from all over the world! We have also been associated with the International Society of Biomolecular Archaeology since 2022.
Our main community space is Slack. We also gather either in-person or online yearly for a main conference and online for various events. We keep information about the community archived on our website, along with information on how to get involved.
We welcome all early stage career researchers, as well as Principal Investigators (PIs) and other senior researchers, to join our community. However, the community wants to be especially useful and supportive for early career researchers; thus, we encourage PIs to not monopolise discussions.
All members of our community are obliged to follow our code of conduct. Before joining the community be sure to read and understand what this entails. This code of conduct outlines our expectations for all those who participate in our community, as well as the consequences for unacceptable behaviour. All members of SPAAM are required to agree and comply with this code of conduct. Safety officers are responsible for enforcing this code within the community, including dealing with any violations. We expect cooperation from all participants to help ensure a safe and positive environment for everybody.
To report any violations of this code of conduct within activities in the scope of the community, please reach out to our safety officers whose contacts can be found at the code of conduct. An anonymous reporting form is also available here. The actions taken by the safety officers would depend on the gravity of the action via a case by case assessment, and they are entitled to remove a member from the community should the behaviour in question be unacceptable to morality.
The community does not only serve as a place for members to communicate and exchange knowledge but also as a platform to start initiatives and collaborations.
These are some recurrent initiatives:
SPAAM conference: a yearly meeting where members of the community present their work or topics that are important for the community.
SPAAMTisch: a monthly event in which the community agrees on a topic to discuss or a seminar presented by the author of a recent publication relevant to the community. This initiative is also a space to foster new connections among young researchers and encourage new ideas for projects. (The name is a play on Stammtisch, the German tradition of regularly meeting for drinks)
SPAAM summer school: this summer school is aimed at masters or early PhD students and its goal is to introduce them to the field and provide a basic skill set to work with metagenomic datasets
Ancient Metagenomics Directory (AMDir): a community effort to curate a github repository of standardised metadata for samples, studies, and libraries of aDNA sequencing. This resource helps make the reuse of data across studies easier than ever and has led to multiple publications.
MINAS MIxS Checklist: a rich metadata is crucial for implementing FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles and enhancing the quality of research. It enables researchers to gain deeper insights into their own data as well as previously published data.
New initiatives and projects are highly encouraged. For that reason a Steering Committee (see description below) was established to aid the projects/initiatives to reach their goals by providing ideas, support and advice.
There is no membership fee to join the SPAAM community. However, opportunities for voluntary donations will be presented in community-wide SPAAM meetings. We are financially supported by voluntary donations by members and research group leaders. If you are able to contribute financially and would like to support the SPAAM community, please contact a member of the treasurer team of the Steering Committee.
The constitution (this document) outlines the structure and information about the SPAAM community. The constitution is a living document which will be updated as needed to fit the needs of the SPAAM community. It is primarily maintained by the Steering Committee, but other members can make suggestions by reaching out to the Steering committee and advocate for changes as they see fit.
SPAAM Steering Committee
Definition - Steering Committee
The Steering Committee is an advisory board that provides support, guidance and oversight of particular issues or projects within the context of the community. It was formed in 2022 during the SPAAM4 conference. The Steering Committee meets roughly every two weeks.
The tasks of the Steering Committee involve brainstorming and proposing new initiatives and helping new initiatives get off the ground, by increasing engagement and support for SPAAM members and events, helping with ongoing organisation efforts, publicization of SPAAM, and sourcing funds for the maintenance of SPAAM.
The Steering Committee is formed by teams consisting of the managing team: a chair and a secretary, a treasurer team, a social media team and an engagement team. The teams meet on a regular basis to divide responsibilities and set up a communication method that ensures tasks are fulfilled.
The current members of the Steering Committee can be found here:
Description of the Roles
Formed by the chair and the secretary. Responsible for ensuring the committee functions smoothly and achieves its goals.
Chair: leads meetings, sets agendas, moderates discussions and delegates tasks to volunteer members. It represents the SPAAM community in any official meetings or interviews. They are also responsible for having an overview of the various initiatives by maintaining a close communication with the treasurer, social media and engagement teams. Allows for discussion around long-term topics, needs to be forward thinking on this end.
Secretary: Takes meeting minutes, sends them out via slack when they are ready, makes sure that assignments are noted. Organisational responsibilities (ie keeping google docs in order, annotating the minutes with required links, possibly doing same for the agenda ahead of time
The treasurer team is responsible for managing the funds, for the communication related to funds and responsible for allocating funding to initiatives by serving as a line of communication between the organising committees and the Steering Committee. The treasurer team is also responsible to collect funds as well as finding grant opportunities to continue to fund SPAAM initiatives.
Social media team
The social media team is responsible for the outreach of the community, by tweeting, emailing as well as updating the website. Social media officers will announce new initiatives, conferences, papers and jobs that are relevant for the SPAAM community. They will also be responsible for maintaining the YouTube channel of the community.
The engagement officers are responsible for coming up with new initiatives (projects, summer schools, outreach activities, etc.) and propose them to the community. They will also oversee ongoing initiatives and provide support for them to reach their goals. They will ensure that the initiative is known in the community, as well as outside the community together with the media team. As well as suggesting potential funding sources for the initiative, by engaging with the treasurer team.
Time in Office
The Steering Committee will be in office for a period of two years, after which a new committee will be chosen. Roles are decided collectively at the start of a new term.
How are Steering Committee members chosen?
Community members will be encouraged to volunteer when the term for the current Steering Committee is reaching an end. The volunteers should choose specific positions within the steering committee. If a team lacks volunteers, the current officers will nominate a person to substitute them. Ideally, positions will be filled by early career researchers.
6th of June 2023