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Poster presenters

The 2021 Gatlinburg Conference is accepting submissions for poster and symposium abstract as of September 14, 2020.  The deadline for submitting an abstract is October 12, 2020.

If your poster submission was accepted to the 2020 Gatlinburg Conference in San Diego, you may submit your poster to the 2021 Gatlinburg Conference and it will be accepted automatically. At the top of the poster form, you will find a check box for you to indicate that this is a 2020 poster re-submission. You don’t need to modify the abstract document at all, just upload it as is.  Also, you may submit an additional poster for 2021 and it will not count toward the limit of a single first authorship on a poster abstract.

Submit Poster   Submit Symposia

If you have questions regarding submissions, please contact Hilary Casey at

  • Presenters can be first author on no more than one symposium and one poster.
  • The Gatlinburg Conference is a research conference and, therefore, program descriptions, clinical case reports, or literature reviews will not be accepted for presentation.
  • Submissions must report original empirical evidence. The data described in the abstract should have already been collected. Submissions that depend on future data collection will not be accepted. Your abstract must include: Symposium Title, Overview, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and References/Citations.
  • Submissions related to the conference theme are encouraged, but not required.
  • Authors who have a relationship with a member of the Executive Committee that could be construed as a conflict, must indicate this on the submission form.

For each abstract submission, you will be asked to enter the following information into an online form:

  • Title of presentation/poster
  • Author(s)
  • Institutional affiliations
  • Email address of designated contact person
  • Indicate if the first author is applying for a travel award
  • In addition to completing the online submission form, you are required to complete and upload the submission template. The template is provided in the online submission form. 
  • There is no word limit for the submissions. However, we ask that you keep poster submissions to one page (we understand if you extend to two pages).

In addition to the individual abstracts within a symposium, each symposium chair must also enter the names and affiliations of the chair and discussant. Symposium chairs are encouraged to include a discussant as well as presenters from more than one institution.

  • The chair should enter all the symposium information into the online form, including travel awards (if any) for which first author students wish to apply.
  • The strongest symposia span consists of 3 or 4 presentations, multiple research groups, disorders, or methods. Additionally, the most successful symposia feature discussants that facilitate dialogue and integration of findings and approaches.
  • Symposium presentations are 60 minutes (45 minute presentation and 15 minute Q&A).
  • Posters are presented 1 1/2 hours. Please allow 15 minutes to set-up and 15 minutes to break-down poster for a total of a 2-hour timeframe.
  • The poster board dimensions are a maximum of 4 feet high by 8 feet wide. When printing your posters, please be advised that your poster cannot exceed the maximum poster board dimensions.
  • There is no word limit for the submissions. However, we ask that you keep poster submissions to one page (we understand if you extend to two pages).

We offer six types of Travel Awards to assist with some of the travel costs incurred for the conference:

  • Laraine Masters Glidden Undergraduate Student Award (for undergraduate students)
  • David Zeaman Student Awards (for graduate students)
  • Theodore Tjossem Postdoctoral Awards (for postdoctoral fellows/trainees)
  • John G. Borkowski Diversity Travel Awards (for graduate students who are from groups under-represented in the sciences, e.g., ethnic or racial minorities, those with a disability)
  • Dissertation Award (for doctoral candidates who present an abstract that is part of their doctoral thesis)
  • American Psychological Association-Division 33 Graduate Student Award (for a student enrolled in a graduate program in psychology or closely related field and who is a student member of Division 33)

In order to be eligible for the awards, the applicants must:

  • Be a student or postdoctoral fellow.
  • Be the first author on a poster or a presentation within a symposium that is accepted for the conference. The abstract must reflect relevance to intellectual and developmental disabilities research, and demonstrate both a high level of scientific merit and quality of research.
  • Have not received the same award at a previous Gatlinburg Conference. Example: If an attendee won the Zeaman Award at a previous conference, he/she cannot apply for the Zeaman Award again, but is welcome to apply for any of the other travel awards.

During the abstract submittal process, applicants are required to indicate whether they wish to apply for a Travel Award. If you are an author on a symposium and are applying for an award, please inform your chair which Travel Award you are applying for.

Travel Award recipients are required to be present for the entire conference and are expected to leave no earlier than Thursday afternoon, April 8, 2021. Travel Award recipients are also expected to attend all sessions scheduled at the conference. Award winners incur the travel expenses up front (airfare, hotel, parking, meals, etc.) and are reimbursed after the conference, upon providing original receipts.

Each abstract will be reviewed by at least two members of the Executive Committee Members ». Abstracts are assigned to committee members based on their expertise in the field based on the topic of the abstract.

An Executive Committee member cannot judge an abstract submitted by anyone with whom they have a relationship with that would be considered a conflict of interest.

Each abstract will be ranked using the NIH scoring system of 1 to 9:

  1. Exceptional: Exceptionally strong with essentially no weaknesses
  2. Outstanding: Extremely strong with negligible weaknesses
  3. Excellent: Very strong with only some minor weaknesses
  4. Very Good: Strong but with numerous minor weaknesses
  5. Good: Strong but with at least one moderate weakness
  6. Satisfactory: Some strengths but also some moderate weaknesses
  7. Fair: Some strengths but with at least one major weakness
  8. Marginal: A few strengths and a few major weaknesses
  9. Poor: Very few strengths and numerous major weaknesses

Minor Weakness: An easily addressable weakness that does not substantially lessen impact
Moderate Weakness: A weakness that lessens impact
Major Weakness: A weakness that severely limits impact

Submissions are then sorted by score and accepted based on the strongest ratings. Submitters will not receive information on the ratings of their abstracts or any other evaluative feedback.