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Laboratory experiments in geomorphology is the theme of the 46th annual Binghamton Geomorphology Symposium (BGS). While geomorphic research historically has been dominated by field-based endeavors, laboratory experimentation has emerged as an important methodological approach to study these phenomena, employed primarily to address issues related to scale and the analytical treatment of the geomorphic processes. It is contended here that geomorphic laboratory experiments have resulted in transformative research. Several examples drawn from the fluvial and aeolian research communities are offered as testament to this belief, and these select transformative endeavors often share very similar attributes. The 46th BGS will focus on eight broad themes within laboratory experimentation, and a strong and diverse group of scientists have been assembled to speak authoritatively on these topics, featuring several high-profile projects worldwide. This special issue of the journal Geomorphology represents a collection of the papers written in support of this symposium.