In September 2016, we organized the first North American meeting of hydroid biologists (“Hydroidfest”), which was attended by approximately 60 people and, according to a post-meeting survey and informal feedback, was a huge success. We exceeded our own expectations for enthusiastic participation by the community and we accomplished our stated goal of bringing together the North American hydroid research community. Our long-term goal was to grow the community of cnidarian researchers in North America, and Hydroidfest was a big step in that direction. After surveying the broader cnidarian research community and speaking with the organizers of previous Nematostella meetings, it became clear that a broader meeting that encompassed all cnidarian model organisms was needed. Thus, the Cnidarian Model Systems Meeting (aka “Cnidofest”) was born.
The first Cnidofest was held in 2018 and was attended by more than 120 people. Due to the COVID pandemic, we were forced to cancel Cnidofest 2020. In its place we started a monthly Cnidarian Zoom Seminar Series, which draws an international audience. Cnidofest 2022 was held in September 2022 at UC Davis and also attended by more than 120 people.
We intend to hold Cnidofest every two years, rotating sites in order to balance the travel burden for our community.