Hybrid (conference) vigor
Four GSA communities are excited to meet in person in 2022 — and to experiment with hybrid conferences that combine the benefits of online and in-person meetings.
After two years of online meetings of all kinds, we are thrilled to return to scientific conversations in person! In 2022, many of us will be together again, enjoying the science—and the company—at our regular in-person conferences with virtual attendance options. #Fungal22 and #PEQG22 will take place at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California and #Dros22 will be in San Diego, California. #Yeast22 will be held in person at a location to be announced soon. All four organizing committees are working hard on creating can’t-miss programs to reunite and recharge their communities.
A few of the things we have missed most about scientific conferences “in real life” include meeting new colleagues at random, building stronger relationships with old colleagues, having unscheduled but in-depth conversations, discovering amazing talks far outside our specialties, and being able to dedicate focused time to the meeting away from everyday life. The intellectual buzz of several intense days of science at a GSA meeting is an enriching experience that has immediate results: new ideas, new collaborations, new jobs, new friends.
Of course, we learned a lot from our experiments with online conferences in 2020 and 2021. For example, having the talks recorded ended the ubiquitous fear of missing out on something exciting in a concurrent session. And more people were able to ask questions via chat than was ever possible via a microphone. Most importantly, we learned that the virtual format could be more inclusive, lowering barriers to participation.
So, in 2022, GSA is leading the way in conference innovation once again, this time with offering virtual attendance options alongside the full in-person conference, including opportunities to present online and access talk recordings, posters, and professional development events. While there is no way for us to completely replicate the in-person experience online, we hope that these select virtual options will translate to new “hybrid vigor” for GSA conferences by opening the experience to remote participants and enhancing the experience for those on site.
This flexibility seems even more critical while we continue to endure the uncertainty and risks of a pandemic. Because we understand that making future travel plans is difficult right now, we are adopting a flexible registration policy that will allow registrants to change from the in-person to virtual options (or vice versa) up until the month before the meeting.
As scientists, we all know that experiments come with costs. In this case, the new format has much higher labor, contractor, equipment, and technology costs than either an in-person or an online-only event. Note that the 2022 conferences are not expected to break even.
The past 18 months of conference experiments have been financially costly for the GSA, but also rewarding. Crucially, we have invested in these trials in order to maintain community connections and scientific contributions in a time of need. Despite the anticipated losses, we consider the virtual attendance option in 2022 to be an important step in learning how to balance the needs of in-person and online participants. We are excited to see what happens and to continue to evolve how scientists meet and exchange ideas.
2021 GSA Executive Committee
Hugo Bellen, President
E. Jane Hubbard, Vice-President
Denise J. Montell, Immediate Past President
Erika L. Matunis, Secretary
Michael Buszczak, Treasurer
Steven Munger, Member at Large
Tracey DePellegrin, GSA Executive Director