Photo: BrainSTIM conference studio: Aino Tervo (left) and Jaakko Nieminen (right).

 

Due to the coronavirus epidemic, the BrainSTIM 2020 conference on neuroscience couldn’t take place in Otaniemi, Espoo as planned, so a decision was made to move it online. Researchers Jaakko Nieminen and Aino Tervo from the Aalto University Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering were the main local organisers of the two-day event, and they also arranged the conference studio in Otaniemi.

‘When the impact of the coronavirus situation became clear, we had a total of 70 approved conference presentations. We started to look into whether the researchers would be willing to attend a remote conference. Many told us that they hoped that the conference would not be cancelled since so many others were already being cancelled’, says Aino Tervo.

The conference had eventually more than 50 presenters and nearly a thousand viewers from 18 different countries. The remote conference was public and available to everyone free of charge. It was easily accessible for young students and researchers all around the globe.

The remote conference was organised on four different platforms, as none of them provided all the desired features. Oral presentations were hosted on YouTube, posters were set up in a virtual poster hall, and discussions were held on Zoom and Twitter. Although Twitter was the main venue for the conference programme, switching between different platforms was challenging at times for the conference guests. The organisers also decided to have presentations pre-recorded to avoid technical difficulties.

‘The talks were presented on a schedule that was planned to the minute, and presenters answered questions in real time after their presentations. The quality of the presentations was probably even higher than in ordinary conferences’, says Professor Risto Ilmoniemi who chaired the conference. Ilmoniemi found organising a remote conference an interesting learning opportunity and experience. ‘It is possible to hold really good presentations online, so we will be taking advantage of remote meetings after the coronavirus crisis as well.’

Over two days, the conference broadcast lasted a total of 20 hours, with 4.5 hours of live conversations.

‘The remote conference turned out well and gave Aalto University some very positive publicity. We have Aino Tervo, Jaakko Nieminen and the other organisers to thank for this success’, says Risto Ilmoniemi.

The organizer of the BrainSTIM conference series, Professor Vincent Clark from the University of New Mexico in the United States, has promised that the traditional conference that was now cancelled can be held in Otaniemi in summer 2021. This way, Aalto University gets twice the visibility.

 

Read the original article by Tiina Aulanko-Jokirinne here.
​The 6th Annual Brain Stimulation and Imaging Meeting on YouTube.

BrainSTIM online conference studio at Aalto University