2020 Workshop:Summary

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Summary of the CEDAR 2020 Virtual Workshop 22-26 June 2020

The CEDAR workshop was supposed to be at the Eldorado and Hilton hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The following gives a brief timeline of the decision to cancel and move to a light weighted virtual meeting.

Until beginning of March, 2020 the CEDAR meeting preparation was going as planned. The registration site was develop and up. The workshop website was functional. The individual workshop proposal submission and the student travel application was open. The student workshop and the selection of the CEDAR prize and CEDAR distinguished lecture was progressing as normal. However, beginning of March the confirmed cases of COVID-19 was increasing exponentially in the US, and in the middle of March a lot of states issued stay-at-home orders and closed schools to slow the spread of COVID-19. Due to the uncertainty if travel is possible in the summer of 2020 registration numbers, workshop proposals, and student funding applications were very low. After travel restrictions at different institutions were extended to several months, conversations between CPAESS, the CSSC, and NSF took place and the in-person CEDAR workshop 2020 was cancelled. The community was informed on March 20, 2020 via the CEDAR mailing list. All registered people got full refund.

The cancellation left a void and there were indications that the CEDAR community wants to meet virtually in some form to share science. The CSSC and CPAESS started thinking about a virtual meeting in early April. By end of April some rough idea about meeting elements was developed and NSF was informed on April 25, and the CEDAR community by April 28 about a light weighted virtual meeting. At that point, nobody had lots of experience with virtual meetings and the meeting was less than 2 month away, therefore, the planning was conservative with only a few elements. By May 13, the details of the workshop were worked out. Overall, it speaks to the CEDAR community that the 2020 Virtual CEDAR workshop was a success. In the following, the different elements are described.

The CEDAR workshop had several components

  • Student workshop (synchronous) on Monday
  • Agency townhall (synchronous) on Tuesday
  • Prerecorded science presentations (asynchronous)
  • Individual workshops (synchronous and virtual connection organized by conveners)

CPAESS got a vendor to coordinate and lead the Monday and Tuesday synchronous sessions. The vendor met with each speaker and did dry runs to get everybody comfortable with the technology, allowed for smooth transitions between speakers and breaks, and streaming to You-Tube. This worked very well.

A new CEDAR workshop website (here) was created with all the important information on it. A lot of the information was developing and communication with the community was very important. A lot of one-to-one questions (with a maximum of 170 per day) were answered via email in the weeks leading up to the workshops since the schedule was tight.

Workshop registration: The workshop was free of charge and only a basic goggle based registration site was created. The registration was open till the end of the workshop. The main purpose of the registration site was to gather email addresses to send out workshop connection information and to collect information about the participants. 731 participants registered with 27% senior, 18% mid-career, 20% early career, 26% graduate students, 6% undergraduates, and 3% non-science. It should be noted that the numbers of undergraduates and non-science participants is higher than at the in-person CEDAR workshop in 2019.

The workshop was also more international. Participants came from 36 different countries. The US was leading with 503 participants followed by India (42), China (25), Canada (21), Germany (21), UK (17), Peru (16), Brazil (11), Finland (9), Norway (7), Taiwan (5), Argentina (4), and Japan (4). All other countries had less than 4 participants. In the past people from Africa wanted to participate but could not afford the travel cost. This year, CEDAR had participants from South Africa, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast. Egypt and Nigeria.

As part of the Virtual meeting a Slack workspace (cedarscience.slack.com) was created on June 13, 2020 (a week before the CEDAR workshop) based on suggestions from community members. 262 members joined the CEDAR Slack workspace. 13 channels were created (including the ones for individual workshops) and 161 messages were send the week before the meeting and 1,933 messages during the workshop week. 33% of these messages were in the public channels and 67% were direct messages. Slack was a great way to communicate and post information. The “diversity-equity-and-inclusion” channel has ongoing conversations into the fall, while the other channels were mainly used around the workshop weeks.

Student workshop: The student workshop was held on Monday June 22 with the topic “Mapping out the future directions for space physics and aeronomy”. It was a 7h synchronous zoom session with the opportunity to post question via Slido. The students scheduled 3 breaks in-between the 8 presentations. Some presenters had pre-recorded but were present to live answer the questions. Both pre-recorded and live presentations worked well. The agenda can be found here and the whole session was recorded and live streamed via You-Tube. Participants commented that the live streaming to You-Tube worked great and allowed them to watch on large TV screens and avoid restrictions on meeting software (as it was the case for some government agencies). The CEDAR student workshop recording has almost 3,200 views by October 2020. During the student workshop a maximum of 304 people were watching. Slido worked very well since everybody felt comfortable to ask questions, and questions could be upvoted. The CSSC already decided it will explore using some Q&A software also at in-person meetings.

The students were extremely active this year and in addition had international participation and support. 65% of the students were first time CEDAR attendees. Student participants were very evenly distributed between years of graduate study (17.4% 1st year, 23.9% 2nd year; 21.7% 3rd year; 10.9% 4th year, 15.2% 5th year). Several students worked hard to create a 2020 CEDAR Student Newsletter (SNL) with summaries of the presentations at the student day and of some selected workshops. The CEDAR 2020 SNL includes bios of the involved students and is a great way to get more students involved in the CEDAR workshop.

Agency Reports: On Tuesday morning, NSF and NASA presented an update to the community. The virtual meeting set up was similar to the student workshop. Participants could attend via live stream on You-Tube and pose questions via Slido. Mike Wiltberger (NSF GS section head) and Alan Liu (program manager) presented an NSF update and the whole GS section team was available for the Q&A. Nicky Fox (Heliophysics director, NASA HQ) presented an update on NASA opportunities. Anthea Coster (LPAG co-chair) provided information about NASA FST for ROSES 2021 and beyond.

Pre-recorded presentations (website here): Instead of a poster session, the CEDAR community had the opportunity to pre-record a presentation or post a pdf of a poster. It was suggested that the presentation is less than 15 min long and < 1GB. The presenters could either provide a link or upload their presentation to a google site. The website was similar to the poster website in previous years to which participants upload their posters. Student presentations had a comment document linked so they got receive some feedback. This was not very much used (59% of presentations had no comments left by the end of July). While it was mentioned during the workshop that people can leave comments at student’s presentations, there was a lot of new information about the CEDAR workshop to take in. It is probably one reason why this was not very much used. The CSSC solicited special science highlights (18 presentations), which were posted at the top of the presentation page. The special presentations included also NSF CAREER, DASI, CEDAR and Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure awards.

86 pre-recorded presentations were submitted. 15 presentations from graduate and 8 presentations from undergraduate students and 63 from non-students. Compared to the poster session at in-person meetings the student participation was much lower. In 2019,out of the 162 total posters, 119 were student posters with 6 undergraduate posters and 86 in the poster competition. The number of undergraduate presentations was higher in 2020 than 2019. One reason for the lower participation could have been the short lead time during a time with significant changes for the students and possible unfamiliarity of or limited access to software to record presentations.

Individual workshops: The individual workshops were proposed by the conveners with a new online form (note that conveners already proposed by the March 15 deadline for the in-person workshop) but different information was needed for the virtual workshop. The timeline was tight with a deadline of workshop proposals by June 10, self-scheduling via an online agenda by June 12, and providing remote meeting information by June 17. The individual workshops had their workshop websites to post agendas and if conveners wanted the remote connection information. The remote connection information was collected from all workshops and provided to the community via a pdf document with the agenda linked to the workshop websites. The precautions of sharing remote connection information only via a pdf were taken due to concerns about trolling of virtual meetings. In the end no convener reported any trolling incidences. The core hours were suggested to be 9-3 MDT, and session length < 2hrs, but it was not strictly enforced. The final workshop list can be found here and the workshop schedule here.

23 workshops were organized, which is only slightly less than in 2019 with 29 workshops. Some conveners did not feel comfortable to organize a virtual workshop since at that time we were all still new to the virtual world. Most of the workshop posted the presentations on their workshop website, and some also posted recordings (one even with caption), outcome and additional information.

In 2020, the CEDAR prize and CEDAR distinguished lecturer were selected but the presentations are postponed to the 2021 CEDAR workshop. Martin Mlynczak (NASA Langley Research Center) was selected as the 2020 CEDAR prize lecturer and posted a presentation to the pre-recorded presentation website . Please see the list of CEDAR Prize lecturer here . Bob Schunk (Utah State University) was selected as the 2020 Distinguished lecturer. Please see the list of CEDAR Distinguished lecturers here. A new Grand Challenge workshop was selected with the title “Understanding the Electromagnetic Energy Input to Earth’s Atmosphere” led by Alex Chartier. Since the remote connection of the virtual workshops were provided by the conveners the CSSC decided to not count 2020 toward the Grand Challenge years. A list of selected Grand Challenge workshop can be found here .

A survey of meeting participants and workshop conveners was conducted. 20 out of the 23 workshops provided feedback via the survey. 20/23 used zoom, 2/23 google meet and 1/23 Microsoft teams. 4/23 workshop did live streaming to You-Tube. For Q&A most used the build in chat function (20/20) and audio (12/20). 2/20 workshop had breakout rooms, which worked very well. One workshop recoding had captions included. It was noted that many international participants could join the workshop. The chat and slack enabled more people to ask question before, during and after a workshop. As challenges, it was noted the difficulty of scheduling with presenters from different time zones around the world. The one-to-one interactions and seeing people during coffee breaks was missed.

The response rate of the participants was 26% (188/731) with almost evenly distributed among career stages: graduate (29%), early career (19.7%), mid-career (19%) and senior (27%). The participants survey found that the student workshop was excellent organized. A lot of participants liked that pre-recorded presentations could be watched when it was convenient. There were more questions than at in-person meetings. The virtual meeting allowed more people to participate who otherwise might not have the funds or have caretaker commitments. It was also pointed out that for people with disabilities there was no concern about finding a seat, being able to hear or see a presentation from the back of a room.

(by Astrid Maute)