Message from the President
This time last year, many of us were just beginning to adapt to our new work from home routines imposed by the pandemic. Labs, campuses, schools, offices – all were largely or completely closed as the world began an experiment into widespread remote gatherings. It was a disturbing and uncertain time as we knew so little about COVID-19. Questions remained unanswered about how the virus spread, what public health measures would be required, if there were any effective therapeutics to treat the sick, and if vaccines could be developed to protect us all.
In the year since those early days last spring, the world has determined answers to many of those questions. Through science, we have learned how to minimize exposure to the virus, treat those who are ill, and protect humanity from infection and severe disease. Through resilience and flexibility, we have adapted to the constraints of this pandemic age to continue on with our personal and professional lives.“SfN Council is looking into software tools that can offer a virtual poster hall or enhanced individual presenter experience that more closely resembles that of the annual meeting.”
Resilience may be the best word to describe the SfN community when Neuroscience 2020 was canceled. Rather than be content to wait for Neuroscience 2021, the Program Committee proposed a new program for a fully virtual meeting. In just a few short months, our volunteer leadership and staff built the Global Connectome: A Virtual Event. Following the well-attended gathering, many of you shared how easy it was to navigate the meeting platform and attend sessions and lectures. You also shared how the virtual poster hall, in its current format, lacks the dynamics and energy of the in-person experience. SfN Council is looking into software tools that can offer a virtual poster hall or enhanced individual presenter experience that more closely resembles that of the annual meeting.
Whether or not the world will be in a place to safely support in-person poster sessions in time for Neuroscience 2021 remains to be seen. SfN is exploring numerous options to host the annual meeting as an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. What we do know is that the outstanding program from Neuroscience 2020 has been maintained for us to enjoy this year, and that abstract submission will open in July. The new abstract schedule will provide all of us more time to collect data while simultaneously offer SfN more certainty about the conditions likely to await us on the ground in Chicago.“What we do know is that the outstanding program from Neuroscience 2020 has been maintained for us to enjoy this year, and that abstract submission will open in July.”
The inability to connect in-person with extended families, friends, and colleagues has been one of the more difficult aspects of the pandemic. I know I am not the only one who has missed gathering with loved ones during the holidays or to celebrate major life milestones like weddings (including my daughter’s in Australia in February) and graduations. To sustain our mental health, it is so important to connect with others in as many ways as possible. SfN offers several opportunities for neuroscientists to communicate with each other. The Neuronline community offers the ability to start a conversation with SfN members, and the Society’s social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer ways to respond to current community events. While it still may not come naturally, I encourage you to engage virtually with the wider neuroscience community.
Through science, resilience, and flexibility we have endured a long year. Through continued public health precautions and patience, we are witness to a global vaccine effort that is protecting more of us every day and that will hopefully be shared worldwide in the near future. And through a growing sense of hope, we await the better days to come.