While distant and online learning is well-established, academic conferences have remained an in-person activity. This will change with a new conference, the Photonics Online Meetup (POM), launched by six photonics leaders from around the world, including University of Ottawa postdoctoral fellow Orad Reshef, that aims to encourage access and sustainability.
The free online conference is taking place on January 13, 2020. The first event will focus on nanoscale quantum optics, integrated optics, and optical materials.
Dr. Reshef, from the Department of Physics at uOttawa, co-chairs the online conference with Professor Andrea Armani from the University of Southern California. They were supported in this project by Professor Rachel Grange from ETH Zurich, Professor Igor Aharonovich from University of Technology Sydney (Australia), Professor Mikhail Kats from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Riccardo Sapienza from Imperial College London (London).
The international committee was drawn together around solving several widely acknowledged issues with the conventional conference format. These include the large carbon footprint of air travel, the impact of travel on families and its increasing cost, conference fees, and challenges associated with visas. POM’s online format is intended to remove these barriers. The organizers believe that this approach (and the absence of any conference fees) will have a particularly positive effect on the career trajectories of early career researchers and will improve access to education for students.
“We envision that this could be the future of the scientific meetings, where online meetups will complement existing meetings,” said Dr. Reshef.
POM is encouraging the formation of “POM-hubs,” which are self-organized viewing sites. The goal of these sites is to encourage networking at a local level to build a sense of community between researchers and students. Thus far, more than 35 POM-hubs have been formed across five continents.
The organizers optimized the schedule to be as convenient as possible for all participants, but all sessions will be recorded. In the days leading up to the event, the organizers are hosting a virtual poster session where participants can publish images of posters online with a conference hashtag and then answer questions electronically in the “replies” stream. Therefore, unlike a conventional poster session, which has a fixed timeframe and limited audience, this approach is unlimited in duration and can grow with its audience.
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