ABC Connecting Treasures 2020
Due to the COVID pandemic, it was not possible to organize a physical ABC Networking Day this year. It was apparent that we did not want to cancel the event entirely and would like to follow the examples of the excellent initiatives of conferences like Human Brain Mapping, to organize an online event. The goal was as every year, to connect the treasures of the ABC community.
The initiative was met with enthusiasm, with over 60 sign-ups. Even though some members had slight apprehensions about awkward online networking sessions, the conclusion of the sessions were very positive. As one of the ABC members said: "We don't do awkward!".
Thanks to all of you for taking the risk with us and attending so enthusiastically!
It was a sweltering 30 °C on the 26th of June when Birte Forstmann, ABC's Scientific Director, opened the Networking Event with a warm welcome. She expressed her enthusiasm about the ABC research and the collaborations that are continuously being fostered. The announcement of the first ABC Awards winners followed, but not without a little twist. ABC members had to guess the identity of the winners with the help of hints provided by Birte Forstmann. But the tips were mostly unnecessary! All winners were guessed correctly way before the last hint was given. Henkjan Honing received the ABC Senior Award, and Umberto Olcese received the ABC Junior Award. They were both thankful to the ABC community for allowing them to create interdisciplinary collaborations and for the platform ABC provides to share their work. A third surprise award went to Christine Dirac, the one and only ABC office and program manager. "Christine is ABC" as Birte accurately described, and she has been extremely helpful in orchestrating ABC events as well as in communicating all ABC business transparently.
All awardees were congratulated by the attendees through "virtual" applause and confetti.
The event continued with two parallel pitch sessions, in which a total of twelve researchers presented their work and their future plans in 3-minute pitch talks. All presenters pitched their research passionately, interesting questions were asked, and initial steps towards novel collaborations were taken. It was great to see so many of the ABC researchers actively take part in the discussions and to see the showcase of all the exciting work taking place within ABC.
The event ended with three rounds of 15 minutes networking sessions in groups of three or four. A drink and a snack were strongly encouraged to foster an informal atmosphere. ABC members were randomized into ‘breakout rooms’ in which they could introduce themselves and their research, or just talk about anything. The organizers proposed ‘ABC nerdy questions’ as conversation starters (such as: “If you could go back in time and make a scientific discovery, what would that be?”), but there was no need for that, everybody was enjoying themselves. Many new networks were built, and old ones sustained. What a great end to the first-ever online ABC networking event!
Anouk Schrantee, Antonia Kaiser, Elsa Juan, Selene Gallo & Josje Verhagen
The organizing committee