Summer was a time of adjusting plans due to concerns of COVID-19. Conferences were no exception.
The Society for Freshwater Sciences (SFS) adapted their annual Summer of Science meeting events to a virtual format.
They hosted virtual activities throughout most of June and into July.
Dr. Debra Finn, assistant professor of biology, shares how SFS managed to provide a science-filled summer despite the changes.
The virtual presentations
SFS adopted a Zoom-like format to allow students and others to virtually share posters they would have presented in person.
Virtual visitors communicated with the presenters in a chat bar next to the posters.
They could also schedule live session for further discussions.
“I have no doubt that in-person interactions at conferences benefit students,” Finn said. “But SFS did a very good job of promoting and organizing the virtual poster sessions.”
Joining together (from a safe social distance)
Attendees came together virtually to watch live talks by award winners and plenary speakers. Many also participated in a virtual version of the conference’s annual 5K Fun Run.
“Instead of running in the hot humidity, we decided to do a snorkel trip down our main Ozarks study stream, Bull Creek,” Finn said. “We saw a ton of cool things on the trip, we learned a lot and we got a lot of likes for our creativity on Twitter.”
Missouri State student accomplishments
Biology graduate student David Fleshman presented a virtual poster presentation titled “Variation in Hyporheic Invertebrate Communities between Upwelling and Downwelling Zones of a Gravel-Bed Ozark Stream.”
He co-authored the project with Finn. Although he was disappointed not to attend his first big conference in-person, he was enthusiastic about the feedback he received from several SFS members who came to see his virtual presentation.
Biology undergraduate student Abby Harrison, who has been working on a project in small streams on Mount St Helens, received a fellowship award from the SFS Instars program.
The award serves to help undergraduate students from underrepresented groups interested in the study of freshwater science.
SFS is a scientific organization whose efforts extend internationally.
The organization fosters knowledge of freshwater ecosystems. It attracts stream ecologists, limnologists and wetland scientists from all over the world.
“Although I am sad to have not seen my ‘freshwater family’ in person this year, I am impressed with all the SFS leaders did,” Finn said. “They put a lot of energy, passion and time into making the virtual Summer of Science as engaging as possible.”