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This year’s ABC networking event went virtual – and viral!

ABC networking event 2021 – reconnecting researchers: A great success!

This year’s ABC networking event went virtual – and viral!  We were really happy to see a record number of attendees, around 90 of you registered and showed up for the event. It seems that after more than a year of all meetings and teaching being online, a virtual networking event is no longer considered ‘awkward’. Further, this year was special in that could we offer everyone a “borrel box” with a drink of your choice and delicious snacks, generously sponsored by the ABC.

The aim of this year’s event was to (re)connect with researchers – not only those affiliated with or interested in the ABC – but also with colleagues from other institutes such as the NIN (Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience) and Amsterdam Neuroscience, who received an invitation to the event as well.

The event took place on Friday afternoon, June 25th, and it consisted of two main parts. The first part, the science bit, contained the ABC award ceremony, plus two parallel sessions of Pitch talks, and was held in Zoom. The second part, the “borrel” bit, took place in a special “town” especially created for this ABC event in Gather.

We started with warm welcomes by Nora Runia, on behalf of the Organizing committee, and by Birte Forstmann, on behalf of the Board of Directors. Birte then turned to the official part of the event, namely the ABC award ceremony, which took a surprising spin: It turned out that this year, only members of the ABC Board of Directors were nominated for the ABC Senior  award. Given this situation, the ABC Board decided to not give out the award – as it would be slightly odd to hand out an award to themselves - , but, instead, retain the funding and return the award to the ABC community.

Then, ** drumrolls ** Birte announced the winner of the ABC Junior award, namely Anneke Alkemade. Birte gave a nice laudatio, applauding Anneke for her cutting-edge research and her contributions to the ABC community. The awardee was congratulated by all attendees with virtual confetti and applause.

Next on the program were the two parallel sessions of Pitch talks. The program turned out to be well balanced, given that the attendance was nearly 50/50, meaning around 45 people in each session. Each session had a line-up of 9 speakers, who gave wonderful 3-5 minute talks. Each session turned into a full hour of very interesting discussion of the latest from the ABC community.

Part 2: Networking in Gathertown

After that it was time for networking! We were all encouraged to take out our drinks and snacks for some group photos, see below.


All attendees then received instructions on Gathertown. In this virtual environment, especially created for this occasion, attendees could play games of poker, Pictionary, chat in smaller rooms, or stroll through virtual hallways, bars and lounge areas. Some ABC members developed (healthy) gambling addictions and poker rivalry. Many interesting acquaintances and collaborations were made, and existing ones were reconnected and reinspired.

See below for a picture of the layout of the Gathertown environment.


In sum, we look back on a very successful, interesting and fun event. We would like to thank all 18 speakers for their inspiring Pitch talks, and each and everyone of you for your help in creating a great and supportive atmosphere. We hope to see you again (in person!) next year!

Nora Runia (chair, AMC), Conrado Bosman (FNWI), Monique Flecken (FGW), Jan Hausfeld (FEB), Monja Hoven (AMC), Stijn Nuiten (FMG), and Tim van Timmeren (FMG) 

ABC networking event organizing committee 2021