Over 1100 participants spread across 37 countries took part in the first ever Photonics Online Meetup (POM) on January 13, offering participants full access to an academic conference with more than five hours of interactive expert talks on quantum optics for no registration fee. Over 635 participants joined from the 66 POM hubs, which were locally-organized viewing sites. The hubs were spread across 27 countries on 6 continents.
The conference also included an interactive virtual poster session which began on January 9, allowing conference participants to share their posters online and conduct an online discussion about their work. Participants contributed 59 posters averaging 27 likes and 3000 impressions in the first three days.
The POM event was founded to address some of the limiting aspects of conventional academic conferences, including the carbon footprint and cost of many attendees traveling by air to international events, the impact of this travel on families, prohibitive conference fees and the challenges some researchers face obtaining visas.
To solve these challenges, the POM organizing committee focused on designing a completely free, fully online event to improve accessibility and remove these barriers, with the additional hope that it would have a positive effect on the career trajectories of early career researchers.
“When we began to design this event, we called it ‘our experiment’, because there were so many variables and ways it could go wrong. At this point, based on the positive response from the community, I think we can safely say that the experiment was a success,” said Professor Andrea Armani, POM conference co-chair and the Irani Chair of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
The free online conference was organized by Armani, along with Professor Rachel Grange from ETH Zurich, Professor Igor Aharonovich from University of Technology Sydney (Australia), Professor Mikhail Kats from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Riccardo Sapienza from Imperial College London (London) and Dr. Orad Reshef from the University of Ottawa (Canada).
Presentations from the event are available via the POM website.