I recently presented my research on plant physiological responses to water deficit to the Institute of Soil, Water and Environmental Sciences. I have included a link to the presentation below for those who might be interested.
This was my first presentation to a virtual audience and it got me thinking about the future of science presentations and how we currently consume science. In general, I think it is important to continue to share research and engage on these critical issues and virtual platforms, such as this type of online seminar, is one way to do so. It will certainly take some getting used to and we have a lot to learn from other disciplines which are currently better at attracting and maintaining people’s attention. One avenue that might be worth be exploring is how to make these types of seminars more interactive. One of the things I found most challenging in this presentation was having to “engage” with a screen, rather than an audience. This is somewhat different to in-person seminars where the presenter can feed off of the audience and engage with individuals, which I enjoy doing. It might be worth playing around with this idea, such as by making the question time longer and possibly having more of a discussion rather a full length presentation? Perhaps readers will have some ideas, which they might want to share in the comments below.
Another aspect that I started to consider is that in-person science conferences can be an incredibly effective way of connecting people. I was invited to present by Uri Hochberg, who I met a few years ago at a conference on plant hydraulics in Maine, USA. Uri and I were postdocs at the time and there is plenty of overlap in our research interests. These kinds of connections are great to maintain. But I wonder how moving to an online mode of interaction might influence the capacity to develop these kinds of connections. On the one hand it is making it easier to communicate remotely, across vast distances. But on the other, it might be more difficult to develop connections, because these are often made at in-person conference sessions. Perhaps I am overstating the importance of in-person events? Again, let me know what you think; I’m curious to hear other thoughts on this.