The 55th Sanibel Symposium will be held on February 15th to 20th, 2015

HISTORY

In the early years of QTP, a tradition was started of inviting a number of active scientists from all over the world to visit. This practice created a uniquely open and fertile environment for the exchange of ideas, as well as a truly international network of colleagues and friends.

From the beginning, QTP faculty understood the value of communicating the latest in research finds to graduate students and other young as well as senior scientists eager to join the growing community of quantum chemists and chemical physicists. At that time there were almost no courses and few textbooks on the subject. To fill the gap, QTP began annual Winter Institutes (WI) on Quantum Chemistry, Solid-state Physics, and Quantum Biology in 1961. These extremely intense courses, lasting for six weeks or longer, had their first part on the UF campus.

The Winter Institutes were partitioned into a Preparatory Part, and one or two Advanced Parts. The last two weeks of the WI were held on Sanibel Island, just off Ft. Myers, Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. The Sanibel part concluded with a one week Symposium, which attracted active scientists from around the world for a conference program that can be characterized as the most intense (and exhausting) of any such meetings. Typically the scientific sessions ended at midnight and started at eight thirty in the morning. A total of about 250 participants came each year to the WI and the Sanibel Symposium.

It seems fair to say that these activities had a significant impact on chemical physics and physical chemistry in a variety of ways. In this context, it is notable that at most institutions throughout the world a theorist in these fields, such as a quantum chemist, was, and often still is, the only person with that specialty on the faculty. To meet a colleague with similar interests and scientific expertise often would require significant travel. Given the scenario, it is understandable that the yearly WI and Sanibel Symposium were embraced with sustained enthusiasm among these scientists. Here was a series of events, concentrated in time and space, which made it possible for senior scientists, postdoctoral associates, and graduate students to meet most of the world's experts in the specialty, to learn about the latest developments, and to disseminate their own work among this group for the cost of one trip to Florida.

The Winter Institutes have become less frequent. In contrast, the Sanibel Symposia have been held in an unbroken string of annual gatherings. In 1978 the site of the meeting was changed from Sanibel Island, as a consequence of the sale of the Casa Ybel property for real estate development. The new location at Palm Coast (on the east coast of Florida), was quite a bit closer to the UF campus, and the Sheraton Hotel there served as an excellent symposium site until 1985. That year the meeting was moved a couple of miles further north along highway A1A to the Whitney Marine Biological Laboratories of UF at Marineland. In 1989 the Sanibel Symposium (the name of the original meeting site has ben permanently attached to this meeting) had outgrown the facilities at Marineland and a new site was found just outside the North gate of St. Augustine, Florida, the oldest European settlement in the United States. The Ponce de Leon Resort has housed the meeting since then, except for 1994, when the meeting went to the Marriott at Sawgrass, about seventeen miles north of St. Augustine on the Atlantic coast.

The Sanibel Symposium attracts about 250-300 scientists every year from over thirty different nations. It has become an integral part of the activities of QTP.

The Sanibel Symposia were founded by Per-Olov Lwdin in 1960 and he participated in the organization of these annual meetings until his death on October 6, 2000.

The Symposium continues at the Ponce de Leon Resort in charming, historic St. Augustine. Focused on forefront theory and computation in quantum chemistry, condensed matter physics, molecular dynamics, quantum biochemistry and biophysics, the Symposium intersperses invited and poster (contributed) sessions with ample time for informal discussions. The compact schedule (Saturday afternoon through Saturday evening) enables flexible travel arrangements. The Symposium will be extended one day in 2003 to include a "hands on" workshop for graduate and advanced undergraduate students.

The 2004 Sanibel Symposium moved to the World Golf Village Renaissance Resort and St. John's County Convention Center located just off I-95. Easier to get to, had restaurants, movie theater, Golf Museum, shopping, golf courses galore.

In 2005, the Sanibel Symposium moved to the King and Prince Golf & Beach Resort on St. Simons Island, Georgia, where it has been since. The atmosphere here is as close to the orginial Sanibel Island location as you could ever want. Within walking distance of the Lighthouse and the Village.

In 2010, we organized a special Symposium to celebrate the 50th anniversary. It was longer and had more plenary sessions and activities than the usual Symposia. A large number of praticipants. Many people who had been associated with the Sanibel Symposia and with QTP in some way came and attended.