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Posted by on Mar 28, 2014 in Conference | 1 comment

Thank you for making ScienceOnline happen

Today marks the end of my role as a leader of ScienceOnline. (See this and this about my stepping away.)

I have enjoyed this endeavor, especially because of the talented, smart, thoughtful and funny individuals we’ve met along the way. Indeed, it’s the people who have made ScienceOnline a joy and a success. It’s you who have made science fun for me.

So, it seems appropriate to end my time with ScienceOnline by posting another installment in the annual Thank Them – They Made ScienceOnline Happen roundup.

Each year since the beginning, I have used this post to record and reflect the amazing convergence of ideas, efforts, resources and funds that made the annual ScienceOnline conference possible. ScienceOnline Together 2014, the eighth annual conference, was the most important yet, happening in a time of challenge, transition and change for the organization. We have many individuals and organizations to thank for keeping the event moving forward.

(We thanked the sponsors of ScienceOnline2013 here, ScienceOnline2012 here, ScienceOnline2011 here, ScienceOnline2010 here, ScienceOnline’09 here, the second event here and the first event here.)

The attendees
Take a look at the Look who’s coming to #scio14 post – more than 400 individuals who convened in Raleigh to continue our discussions and debates and demonstrations about science on the web. The conference happened for them, because of them: the program was built from their ideas and proposals, and each session had a moderator who put extra time into preparing to make the discussions as inclusive and productive as possible.

Our hosts
For the third (and final) year, North Carolina State University hosted the conference in the McKimmon Conference and Training Center. NC State has been a great place for the conference to grow in scope, and we are grateful for the welcoming space. Matt Shipman and his communications colleagues across the university partnered to cover the costs of the center rental. Professor David Hinks of the NC State Forensic Sciences Institute kicked off the conference with an official NC State welcome.

We also thank the science labs and centers that welcomed small groups of our attendees for tours and demonstrations: NCSU Osteology Lab (the “bone lab”), NCSU Human Physiology of Wearable Robotics Lab – PoWeR Lab, NCSU Your Wild Life Lab, Duke Lemur Center, Duke Immersive Virtual Environment, Scott Huler’s walking tour of the Downtown Raleigh stormwater tunnels, and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences Paleontology Lab.

The sponsors
The generosity of our sponsors and donors helped us provide the meals, coffee, wifi, badges and lanyards, streaming and so much more. Huge thanks to them all! (See the sponsor log page.)

Burroughs Wellcome Fund, an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities, repeated its support of our conference for the eighth year in a row (and that after providing the crucial planning grant that helped us form ScienceOnline as a nonprofit organization). Russ Campbell, communications director, is a great supporter of ScienceOnline, and we’re grateful for his continued friendship.

Grant funding from The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation – which believes in “bold ideas that create enduring impact in the areas of environmental conservation, patient care and science” – supported multiple ScienceOnline programs in 2013, and we were delighted to receive additional support as funding of ScienceOnline Together 2014. Our thanks to program officer Chris Metzel for traveling from California to attend the conference.

North Carolina Biotechnology Center, another repeat sponsor, helped to underwrite the boosted wifi.

Alltech once again donated its delicious brews for our gala. Genome Alberta, PLoS, Sigma Xi, Promega, CrossMark came back as sponsors, too.

New sponsors this year included Talk Science to MeMosaicProQuestBioMed Central and Springer Open.

And, hundreds of books came from all over, donated by publishers and authors so that each attendee could leave with one, two or more titles to read on their travels home. See the impressive list of books here.

Volunteers
ScienceOnline relies on the efforts and ideas of volunteers. Brian and Tara Malow were extraordinary in planning the Friday night InterGalactic Gala and organizing the game rooms (and lots more). Doug Johnston was back again to coordinate the bus transportation that got attendees from the hotel to McKimmon Center and back again. Chris Smith coordinated the Wednesday field trips, and once again donned his lemur costume for an appearance during the gala. David Arneke, Sonia Furtado NevesSam Lemonick, Rachael LudwickKatie Mack and Katheryn Patterson served as the Response Team. Janet Stemwedel once again coordinated the SciKids room.

Others pitched in throughout the conference. Doreen McVeigh, Diane Bosnjak, Clara HealyEmily Buehler and Gabriel Aponte helped load the truck with pre-conference boxes; Gabriel also monitored the livestream so that our Watch Parties could enjoy the conference from afar, and speaking of Watch Parties, thanks to those who facilitated these remote gatherings. Katy Chalmers was our book table helper and volunteer captain. Russ Creech pitched in with lots of things, and snapped hundreds of images as our official photographer. David ShiffmanJanet Stemwedel, Eleanor Spicer Rice and Robin Anders stepped up at the hotel on the first day to greet people as they arrived to register. Helen Cummings helped numerous times and places.

Many others helped, by setting up the book tables, preparing the hotel ballroom for the gala, cleaning up the McKimmon Center at the end of the conference, and participating in the discussion sessions as scribes, time keepers and logistics helpers. I know we’re missing your names here, but please know how much we appreciated your efforts.

The organizers
In her role as cofounder of ScienceOnline, Karyn Traphagen has been a stalwart and visionary leader taking this organization beyond its initial conferences to exciting new areas of intersecting science and the web. As executive director, she has been a tireless administrator and unstoppable organizer of ScienceOnline Together 2014. I am in awe of what she has accomplished, and how far she has gone to reflect the ideas, preferences and requests of those in the ScienceOnline community. Thank you, Karyn, thank you.

My fellow ScienceOnline board members (also volunteers) Scott Rosenberg, Meg Lowman and Mark Benerofe gave hours of counsel and direction in the runup to ScienceOnline Together 2014, and then were on hand to help set up, drive attendees to tours, meet with individuals to hear their ideas and perspectives, and pitch in at the end to clean up.

We also honor the volunteer leadership of Liz Neeley and Jamie Vernon, who organized ScienceOnline Climate; David Shiffman, who organized ScienceOnline Oceans; Stacy Baker, who organized ScienceOnline Teen; and Bethany Brookshire and Jason Goldman, who began to organize a future ScienceOnline Brain event.

Similarly, the leaders of the ScienceOnline satellite groups have organized local and regional communities to find ways to explore science and science communication together throughout the year. Please find one near you and join in their activities.

Final thoughts
After each conference, we’ve ended the feedback form with a variation of an open-ended question, Final thoughts?, and each year the suggestions and wishes and hopes and ideas that you entered there gave us inspiration to iterate the conference, to make it that much better the next time around. My heartfelt “Thank you!” to each and every one of you for being so engaged – in ScienceOnline, and online science, and science, and society – and for enjoying the conversation and company of each other as we seek to learn more, do more, be more.

I hope to see you at the next ScienceOnline event.

1 Comment

  1. THANK YOU, Anton and Bora for the creative foresight, collaboration, and hard work that gave birth to ScienceOnline in the first place. Without you, perhaps it would’ve happened anyway in some mundane form, but not likely as the inspirational, empowering, enlightening, sought-after destination it has become. You done good!

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