Adapting to a virtual workspace

The COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges for the research community, especially when it comes to holding national meetings. The PCHES leadership team showcased its adaptability this June by successfully hosting the third annual Research Outreach Meeting in remote format.

The annual Research Outreach Meeting brings PCHES participants and collaborators from across the United States to the Penn State University Park campus every June. The leads of PCHES’ 11 research projects have the opportunity to share their progress and receive valuable feedback. The meeting is also a fertile ground for the exchange of new ideas and strengthening of interconnectivity between research areas.

To combat Zoom fatigue, the 2020 meeting was broken up into four 2-hour segments scheduled throughout June. This format differs greatly from previous years during which attendees set aside a full two days of sessions and travel. The virtual format resulted in a 57% increase in participants totaling 69 PCHES researchers, collaborators, and external advisors from 18 institutions.

The meeting ran smoothly and received generally positive external feedback. Its success has opened discussion about adapting future meetings to either a full virtual format or a hybrid model.