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#ECRWednesday Webinar: Reforming academic conferences

Join this month’s webinar to hear what could be done to reform the conference experience for both organisers and participants.
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Conferences serve as a platform for researchers to present new discoveries and gain visibility among colleagues outside their institution, if not across the globe. However, the format and the organisation of many in-person conferences excludes the participation of many researchers. For scientists who can attend but need to travel long distances by air to do so, there’s an environmental impact to consider. And, once they get there, they may not always receive the best outcomes due to the design of the conference sessions.

In this webinar panellists will discuss the challenges scientists face with the current format of many conferences and why it’s important to advocate for changes that could be made to make them both more accessible and more effective for attendees.

  1. Sign up here

Whether you’re involved in the organisation of a conference or you’re interested in advocating for change amongst your community, in this webinar the speakers will:

  • Describe a design centric approach to make conferences more modern, effective, equitable as well as intellectually rewarding for the research community and environmentally sustainable for our planet
  • Give you an inclusive way to organise conferences and learn about new discoveries, research tools and techniques
  • Detail ways in which participants can generate new ideas through serendipitous conversations in online conferences
  • Present things you can do in a new format and things to avoid from the traditional format of conferences

Our panel will include:

Aneth David, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Aneth is an early career research scientist and an academician in agricultural biotechnology at University of Dar es Salaam. She is currently training as a PhD student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), investigating plant-soil microbiome-insects interactions by using maize “push-pull” farming system as a model. Her research focuses on promoting sustainable food production using beneficial soil microorganisms. She is an eLife Ambassador and the first Next Einstein Forum science ambassador for Tanzania. She co-founded the Tanzania Society of Human Genetics, where she is also part of the executive committee.

She enjoys mentoring and inspiring young people in science and technology, especially young girls, through platforms such as social media, blogging ( and activities like workshops and training.

When not in the lab Aneth reads a lot, likes to travel and share knowledge. She is passionate about science as well as diversity and inclusion in science/academia.

Humberto Debat, National Institute of Agricultural Technology, Argentina

Humberto is a researcher at the Institute of Plant Pathology in the Center of Agronomic Research, National Institute of Agricultural Technology in Argentina. Humberto studies the interface of viruses and crops from a holobiont perspective. He is interested in novel approaches to reduce losses associated with plant diseases and passionate about understanding an expanding global virosphere. Humberto is an ASAPbio and eLife Community Ambassador and a bioRxiv affiliate. Humberto advocates for open science practices and access to scientific knowledge as a human right.

Emily Lescak, Code for Science and Society, United States

Emily Lescak is the Data Science Community Conference and Events Fund Program Manager at Code for Science and Society, where she is developing a program to support conferences and events that promote inclusive practices and broaden participation in open research-driven data science communities. She has nearly 10 years of experience working in research data science focused on population genetics, evolution, and management of Alaskan fish populations. Emily has a strong background in mentoring and leadership in science advocacy initiatives.

Sarvenaz Sarabipour, Johns Hopkins University

Sarvenaz is a postdoctoral fellow in the Mac Gabhann Lab at the Institute for Computational Medicine and Department of Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University. She earned her B.Sc. in Physics and Mathematics from University of Sydney, Australia, her M.Sc. from Université de Sherbrooke, Canada and her PhD in Engineering from Johns Hopkins University. Sarvenaz builds multiscale computational models of receptor signaling networks in cell and tissue contexts. These models will enable design of specific systems-level molecular vascular interventions to control angiogenesis in diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is an Early-Career Advisor to eLife and an advocate for early career researchers, open-science, mentorship, diversity, and reproducibility initiatives.

Samantha Seah, European Molecular Biology Laboratories, Heidelberg

Samantha is a PhD student at the European Molecular Biology Laboratories in Heidelberg, Germany. Her research focuses on developing technologies for antibody screening utilising droplet microfluidics. She is passionate about improving environmental sustainability in various aspects of science, and about diversity and equality in STEM.

We hope you can join us at 4pm BST, May 27.


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