4th Annual SLATE Workshop - a virtual experience

@ Home offices across Europe | 24-25/03/2020

This year’s annual SLATE workshop was supposed to take all of us to the mesmerizing city of Barcelona, cradled at the Mediterranean coast of mainland Spain at the foot of the geological playground of the Pyrenees – an ideal setting for an 8-day meeting at the CSIC full of science, field trips and socializing at the end of March! Enters COVID-19 and with it the measures of social distancing to slow down the contagion…

After the initial shock and numbness as to the worldwide impact of the pandemic, we faced two options:

  1. Cancelling the entire workshop with the prospect of a potential rescheduling later this year
  2. Making use of the technological merit of video conferencing to at least maintain a part of the scheduled meeting

So we went with the latter option and organized a 2-day “virtual” meeting, which proved to be a most welcome distraction from the daily bad news currently flooding all our lives. Up to 33 participants joined this improvised workshop, fully armed with webcams and microphones.

In spite of the truly difficult circumstances, the ESRs provided excellent talks outlining their most recent findings and clearly demonstrated their personal development to self-reliant researchers in the subsequent discussions. The following supervisory board meeting assessed the impact of the current situation on the progress of individual projects (e.g., restrictions regarding access to facilities or cancelled secondments) and discussed potential countermeasures (e.g., virtual training measures).

Finally, we closed our first online workshop with a “virtual” clink of glasses and merry chatting, all from the comfort of our homes.