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Reimagining Scientific Conferences: pandemic lessons in reducing carbon footprint, engaging new audiences & rethinking strategies for scientific exchange, now on Demand

Scientific conferences have long been the medium of scientific exchange, inspiration and collaboration that drive the scientific endeavor forward. During the pandemic, we have all been forced to reimagine how to engage virtually to accomplish these goals, with varying degrees of success. On November 15 & 16, 2022, Keystone Symposia hosted a free eSymposia virtual meeting convening leading conference organizations, virtual platform hosts and scientists from around the world to explore best practices in virtual conferencing, and hybrid events (in-person and virtual platforms) for maintaining the efficacy and vibrance of scientific exchange.

We discussed lessons learned from the pandemic in how to engage audiences online by creating interactive and collaborative environments in the virtual world. The program examined benefits of virtual formats, such as inclusivity of more diverse audiences (globally, economically etc.), and enhanced access to the latest scientific discoveries. We also explored challenges, including:

  • how to replicate serendipitous networking opportunities that occur in-person?
  • how to forge relationships that can change the course of careers?
  • how to catalyze collaborations that alter research trajectories toward new and innovative ideas?

We discussed how to optimize hybrid events to seamlessly integrate the interactions and discourse between in-person and virtual attendees.

Together we outlined new ways to enhance the engagement of the scientific community and promote scientific advancement in more carbon-neutral ways moving forward, and ultimately shape the future of scientific conferences for the betterment of science, and future of our planet.

It is time to invest in developing novel ways of connecting and collaborating to facilitate scientific advances, and the pandemic has provided an unexpected proving ground to guide us towards a more sustainable future.

Watch the Event Recording Below On Demand

Reimagining Scientific Conferences ON DEMAND-1


Keynote speakers share different perspectives on how and why to invest in virtual and hybrid conference formats.

  • Walter Greenleaf, Stanford University (USA)-- Designing Virtual Interactions to Catalyze Connection & Collaboration
  • Felix Rundel, futurehain (Germany)-- Virtual and Hybrid Conference Design for Optimal Outcomes
  • Kate E. Whitfield, Zeroverse (Japan)-- Equity and Sustainability of Scientific Conferences





Scientific societies and conference organizations share their experiences and lessons learned in virtual conference organization and implementation, including logistical and economic considerations.

Part I:

  • Lory Wingate, National Academy of Sciences (USA)-- Enriching Traditional Ways of Interacting During COVID and Beyond
  • Richard Gallagher, Annual Reviews (USA)-- Virtual and Hybrid Editorial Committee Meetings for Annual Reviews Journals
  • Jennifer Pesanelli, Biophysical Society (USA)-- Balancing Culture and Accessibility: The Impact of Virtual Meetings at the Biophysical Society
  • Dereck Orr, NIST Communications Technology Laboratory (USA)-- The Integration of Virtual Content in the Public Safety Communications Research Annual Stakeholder Meeting



Part II:

  • Thale C. Jarvis, Keystone Symposia (USA)-- Impact of Virtual Conference Formats during the Pandemic and Beyond
  • Raluca Cadar, Protein Society (USA)-- Reducing Barriers: Protein Society Meetings & Webinars
  • Matthew D'Uva, American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (USA)-- The Liver Meeting/The Liver Meeting Digital Experience
  • Dylan Ruediger, Ithaka S+R (USA)-- Weighing Risk and Opportunity: Five Propositions on the Future of Annual Meetings




Companies and organizations showcase their technologies, and how platforms are designed to optimize connections and collaboration to better recapitulate in-person interactions and outcomes.

  • Bob Vaez, EventMobi (Canada)-- The Future of Scientific Conferences: Two Audiences, One Shared Experience Using the EventMobi Platform
  • Adam Frisby, Sine Wave Entertainment (UK)
  • Sami Ahmed, Zoom Video Communications, (USA)
  • Dorit Donoviel, Translational Research Institute for Space Health (USA)-- Working Like Astronauts: Lessons Learned from a Virtual Space Health Institute





Presenters from throughout the 2 days discussed the challenges, solutions and lessons learned over the past 2 days, deriving outcomes, best practices and next steps. Conclusions are presented for how we can best move forward to encourage scientific exchange, engage the scientific community and catalyze scientific advancement in virtual and hybrid conference formats.







Shannon Weiman
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.