Letter to the Members of the International Society for Ion Mobility Spectrometry (ISIMS)

Dear ISIMS member,


Recent discussion in diversity and inclusion in chemistry led to a movement among academia and professional chemical societies pledging to oppose racism and hate. The purpose of this letter is to tell you how ISIMS began, where we are now, and what we can do for the future.


How We Began & Where We are Now 


The first Ion Mobility Spectrometry (IMS) workshop was held in 1992. ISIMS was founded as a Scholarly Society in 1996. ISIMS quickly evolved into a diverse community, with members from 15 countries attending the most recent conference. Yet it remains a small society, and maintains a relaxed tone in our conferences. Members from academia, government and industry have equal voice. Families of members form an integral part of the Society. We share laughter of joy, and tears of grief. We are family.


We strive to reflect the composition of our membership in session chairs, poster judges, working groups, and Board of Directors. We have a student serving as a Board Member, and this is the third time we have a female president (Hilary Bollan first served as President in 2007). Our constitution is continuously being updated to reflect societal changes, with approval from the membership at each conference. For example, pronouns and terms, which implied board members were male, were removed from our constitution more than two decades ago. However, there is always room for improvement.


What We Can Do

In mobility measurements, we all use different operating pressures and electric fields. The IMS community found common ground in reporting, such as reduced mobility, collision cross section, and compensation voltage. Similarly in life, we all have differences, such as gender, ethnicity and religion. We, too, will find common ground through empathy, empowerment and equity, to ensure an inclusive and welcoming environment, not just for this generation, but for future generations as well. If you have experienced or witnessed racism or gender bias in your scientific career, please let the Society be your support.  


I would be naïve in thinking that racism and gender bias have not touched the IMS community. I would be equally naïve in thinking I have the answers. The following is a list of actionable items of how we propose to move forward, and how you can help.


Actionable Items and How You Can Help


  • Board of Directors: the Nomination Chair of ISIMS has made targeted effort in making sure we have diverse representation at the Board level. We will continue in this endeavour. We have two member-at-large positions open each year, elected by the ISIMS members at the conference. Believe in yourself, step up, and become a leader.  

  • Underrepresented/Underfunded Researchers: We understand that some IMS researchers lack funding for travel. We believe attending the ISIMS conference in person will provide networking opportunities that will be beneficial, through potential collaborations. Join the working group to help us roll out this program.

  • Travel Awards: This is a student-led initiative, brought up at the 2019 conference. I am very proud of our student community who sought feedback and helped draft the travel award policy. Travel Awards will be available for the next in-person ISIMS conference. 

  • New Conference Attendees: At our annual conferences, it is the Society’s custom to welcome new participants, so that no one would feel left out. This will become an official program, with new participants pairing up with conference ambassadors. Sign up to become a conference ambassador, and help us welcome new colleagues. 

  • Location of Conferences: The annual conference location alternates between Europe and North America. For our conference in 2022, we will bring the conference to Asia to make it more accessible to colleagues in Asia and Australia. We accept conference proposals year-round. 


This is your Society. Each and every one of you has the power to shape the Society. I rely on your wisdom, recommendations and guidance. Let us work together as a family, and be united in our love for science. 



Best regards,

Maggie Tam                     


ISIMS President

On behalf of the ISIMS Board of Directors and Advisory Panel

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© International Society for Ion Mobility Spectrometry 2019