Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

The CSDE’s First Virtual Event Keeps Researchers Connected

Posted: 3/21/2020 (CSDE Seminar Series)

On March 13, when groups of people could not be brought together in close physical proximity because of the COVID-19 pandemic, CSDE held its first virtual Trainees’ Lightning Talks and Poster Session. Affirming the strength of CSDE’s community and commitment to research while practicing social distance, more than 75 CSDE community members, including alumni across the country, gathered together online to watch seven graduate students give their brief insightful presentations on their research in demography, read the posters in a second window, and ask questions in the Q&A. Many participants also provided helpful feedback afterward on the research and effectiveness of the poster, supplementing the feedback provided earlier by a panel of CSDE Affiliates.

With little time to act between the cancellation of group events on campus and the date scheduled for the session, the organizer of the event, Emily Pollock, CSDE Trainee, NSF Fellow, and Anthropology Doctoral Candidate, and her support team, worked hard to transform the format of the in-person session, which includes oral presentations, questions and answers, conversations with attendees during the display of posters, and a vote for best poster, into an virtual session. Emily worked out the logistics on Zoom, and coordinated with the presenters, who waited patiently until the last minute until the format was confirmed. The result was a great success, with much appreciation expressed by attendees on Zoom’s chat feature.

Many people pulled together to help Emily bring the online session into fruition, especially the seminar chair, Amy Bailey, CSDE Director, Sara Curran, and Training Program Coordinator, Aimée Dechter. CSDE Computer Support Specialist Emily Lust, provided crucial technical support from the planning stage through completion, Information Specialist Sehej Singh promoted the event and worked until the day of the session to create the webpage with links needed for the online session. CSDE Administrator, Scott Kelly, helped with planning at the beginning of the year.

A special thanks goes to the presenters who kept their composure as they waited to learn what new format would take shape. Whether accompanied by their pets and family, or alone at home, the presenters gave outstanding talks and seemingly effortlessly engaged in the oral Q&A while responding to questions on chat. Congratulations to Jessica Godwin (Statistics) Beatrix Haddock, (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation), Ian Kennedy (Sociology), Neal Marquez (Sociology) Yohan Min (College of Built Environments), William Atienza (Sociology) and Nathan Welch (Statistics) for performing at the highest levels of professionalism and providing stimulating presentations and engaging discussions.

The session would have not been possible without the determination and enthusiasm of the participants and attendees who understood that the barriers posed to collective research events and collaboration by the tragic pandemic and constraints on public health resources underscore the great need for research in the population sciences, now more than ever in the modern history of field.

Note: The Spring 2020 CSDE Seminar Series will be entirely online given public health measures. Please be on the look out for further CSDE communication regarding the logistics for the online Spring Seminar Series!

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