Dam Safety 2020: Call for Abstracts

The Dam Safety 2020 Call for Abstracts is now closed. Individuals who have submitted an abstract for consideration will hear beack from ASDSO at the end of April 2020 regarding the status of their abstract.

Become a Moderator • Please note - to access the volunteer page you must be logged into Collaborate


Dam Safety 2020 is the premier conference for dam and levee safety professionals in the US. Make your plans now to be a key part of the conference and join us in Palm Springs, CA September 20-24, 2020. 

About the Dam Safety 2020 Educational Program

ASDSO’s national conference is well known throughout the U.S. and internationally as a resource for practical information on the day-to-day activities of those working to keep dams safe. The primary focus of the conference is the effective application of knowledge and technology to real-life problems faced by dam and levee safety professionals.

Suggested Topics and Formats

  • Failures, Incidents, and Investigations
  • Hydrology & Hydraulics
  • Geotechnical or Structural Issues
  • Emergency Preparedness/Emergency Response
  • Design & Construction
  • Inspections
  • Use of New Technology
  • Removal, Decommissioning, and Environmental Issues
  • Regulatory Programs
  • Dam Owner Issues
  • Rehabilitation Case Studies & Lessons Learned
  • Risk Assessment/Risk Analysis
  • Instrumentation and Monitoring
  • Tailings Dams
  • Risk Informed Decision-Making
  • Site Security
  • Public Safety at Dams
  • New and Emerging Technologies

The Dam Safety 2020 conference offers a variety of information-sharing opportunities. Those who submit abstracts may be selected for any of the following presentation formats:

  • Traditional agenda presentations – Typically 30 minutes in length (20-25 minutes of presentation and 5-10 minutes for questions).
  • Grab-N-Go Info Sessions – Each speaker will have ten to fifteen minutes to illuminate the audience. Be creative and deliver your message succinctly. Q & A will be limited.
  • Specialty Sessions or Workshops – Ninety-minute sessions or half to full day workshops with multiple presenters on a focused dam or levee safety topic.
  • Poster Forum / Lightning Talk – Each accepted presenter prepares a visual representation of his or her topic for the poster forum, which is open during all exhibit hours. Poster presenters also participate in a Lightning Talks event, in which they highlight the topic’s most interesting points in a 3-minute talk.

You will have the opportunity to suggest which type(s) of presentation would most suit your topic. The selection committee will consider preferences, but will assign topics to session formats based on the overall scope and length of the conference program.


All selected presenters, regardless of presentation type, are highly encouraged to submit a technical paper to be published in the conference proceedings. This allows presenters to expand upon topics and include detailed information that does not fit into an agenda or poster presentation. We frequently hear from attendees how important the written papers are to their conference experience.

In addition, conference attendees increasingly ask for copies of the PowerPoint presentations from conference sessions. We also encourage all presenters to submit their slides for inclusion on the conference Collaborate page and on the Conference app.

Student Paper and Poster Competitions

ASDSO invites students in a variety of fields to enter the Dam Safety 2020 Student Paper Competition. Learn more now.

Judging Procedures and Deadlines

  • All abstracts must be submitted on-line by February 4.
  • The Conference Program Committee will review all abstracts submitted by the deadline and will make selections for the conference agenda.
  • Proposals constituting sales pitches for products or services will not be considered.
  • Selections will be announced in late April.
  • If you are selected, while it is not mandatory, it is highly encouraged that you publish a paper in the proceedings, your draft paper must be submitted for peer review by June 24, 2020. You will receive comments from the paper’s reviewer, and the final paper will be due by August 12. Papers will be published and distributed in digital format prior to the conference.
  • Agreeing to be a presenter at Dam Safety 2020 constitutes agreement that the presenter will register for the conference at the appropriate fee and attend the conference and present the paper in person. Complete instructions for speaker and paper preparation will be provided upon notification of a paper’s acceptance.

How to Submit an Abstract

  • Visit the abstract submission site. Login using the same login and password as you use on DamSafety.org or Collaborate. Don't have one? No problem - you can create one on the site.  
  • Submit your abstract and all required information.
  • If you are adding a Co-Author to the submission please search first to see if they are already in the database. If they are not, please click on Add Missing User and enter their name and email. In the Comment field, please include their company name and phone number. 
  • The submitting/primary author will receive an e-mailed acknowledgment of the receipt of the abstract. Primary authors: Please notify your co-authors when the ASDSO acknowledgment is received.

Tips for Writing a Good Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of your topic. If done well, it makes the reader want to learn more about your topic. These are the basic components of an abstract in any discipline:

  • Motivation/problem statement: Why do we care about the problem? What practical, scientific, or theoretical gap is your topic filling?
  • Methods/procedure/approach: What did you actually do to get your results? (e.g. modeled, designed, constructed, etc.)
  • Results/findings/product: As a result of completing the above procedure, what did you learn or create?
  • Conclusion/implications: What are the larger implications of your findings, especially for the gap identified in step 1?

Recommendations for ASDSO Conference Abstracts

The conference program committee suggests these easy guidelines for achieving a favorable review of your abstract:

  • Paper titles should be short, but descriptive, and should indicate benefits to the audience.
  • Do not send supplemental materials (photos, articles or reports) with your abstract. These will not be seen by the program review committee.
  • Limit abstracts to approximately 350 words (400 word max)
  • Numerous case study abstracts are submitted each year that describe generic dam safety improvements. If submitting a case study, make the most compelling issue or interesting aspect of the project the main focus of your abstract.
  • Be clear and concise! Provide only the information needed to make your point. Unfocused abstracts that ramble may lose the interest of the reviewer.
  • Don't cut and paste sentences from a full technical paper into your abstract. Writing that is appropriate for long papers is often too detailed for abstracts.
  • Present your findings in the abstract. Do not say that results will be discussed or are forthcoming.
  • Identify key messages about the rationale for your work, the methods, and the conclusions before you write. Know in advance what is important or unique about your topic, what you did, why you did it, what you learned.
  • Write in the active voice
  • Avoid jargon and explain uncommon acronyms.
  • Proofread your abstract before submitting. Pay particular attention to spelling, grammar, punctuation, and all numbers.

Volunteer to be a Session Moderator

Session moderators are extremely important to the overall success of the conference. ASDSO is seeking moderators willing to dedicate the time and effort necessary for the development, as well as the delivery of their assigned session. Expertise in specific topic areas will be considered when moderators are selected.

Responsibilities include:

  • Technical/Peer review of the papers to be presented in your session. You must be available during the review period from June 24 to July 15, 2020.
  • Communicate with the authors on a regular basis leading up to the conference to assure that development of the presentations is progressing. Assist with answering questions as needed regarding the session or the conference.
  • Coordinate the logistics of the session, including the sharing of a host laptop computer between presenters.
  • Meet with your session speakers at least one day prior to the scheduled session.
  • Moderate the session, including introducing each speaker and facilitating the Q & A period. Complete the moderator critique form and return to the registration desk.

To volunteer, please visit the Collaborate Volunteer page.

Moderator assignments will be announced in early May.

Interested in volunteering without being a Moderator? Consider volunteering to review Poster/Lightning Talk Papers! To volunteer visit the Collaborate Volunteer page click on Moderator - Dam Safety 2020 and during the process select paper review for posters.

Special thanks to our sustaining members