Virtual Growing Pains: Initial Lessons Learned from Organizing Virtual Workshops, Summits, Conferences, and Networking Events during a Global Pandemic


For many, 2020 was a year of abrupt professional and personal change. For the aquatic sciences community, many were adapting to virtual formats for conducting and sharing science, while simultaneously learning to live in a socially distanced world. Understandably, the aquatic sciences community postponed or canceled most in-person scientific meetings. Still, many scientific communities either transitioned annual meetings to a virtual format or inaugurated new virtual meetings. Fortunately, increased use of video conferencing platforms, networking and communication applications, and a general comfort with conducting science virtually helped bring the in-person meeting experience to scientists worldwide. Yet, the transition to conducting science virtually revealed new barriers to participation whereas others were lowered. The combined lessons learned from organizing a meeting constitute a necessary knowledge base that will prove useful, as virtual conferences are likely to continue in some form. To concentrate and synthesize these experiences, we showcase how six scientific societies and communities planned, organized, and conducted virtual meetings in 2020. With this consolidated information in hand, we look forward to a future, where scientific meetings embrace a virtual component, so to as help make science more inclusive and global.

Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin (30)
Tadhg N. Moore
Tadhg N. Moore
Senior Lake Scientist

My research interests include environmental data analysis, lake modelling and water education.