The idea of an online conference has been percolating within the twittersphere for some time to address several well-acknowledged issues with the conventional conference format; namely, the large carbon footprint of conference travel, the impact of travel on work/life balance, and the increasing rates of disruption and cost of international travel. In parallel, the technical platforms designed for hosting a multi-location and open forum have significantly advanced, further motivating the development of alternative mechanisms for research dissemination.
The initial mission of POM was to provide everyone access to the latest knowledge. Lately, especially due to the pandemic of COVID-19, it has become more important than ever to promote methods of disseminating scientific knowledge without physical contact.
Therefore, in addition to exchanging technical information to the photonics community, POM has a larger overarching mission. Briefly, the main goals are:
- improve accessibility of conference attendance
- reduce carbon footprint of conference travel
- reduce burden on family of conference travel
- reduce the cost of conference participation
Our inspiration comes from several places. The references below are just a small sampling of the many discussions currently occurring around the world trying to develop alternative approaches to scientific meetings. If you have articles that you would like to see posted, please send a link!
- Olivier Hamant, Timothy Saunders and Virgile Viasnoff, Seven steps to make travel to scientific conferences more sustainable, Nature Career Column, 2019.
- Jon Cartwright, Work travel doubles researchers’ carbon footprint, Physics World, 2019.
- Editorial, Scientists should explore alternatives to flying, Nature Nanotechnology, 2019.
- Joachim Ciers, Aleksandra Mandic, Laszlo Daniel Toth, and Giel Op ’t Veld, Carbon Footprint of Academic Air Travel: A Case Study in Switzerland, Sustainability, 11 (1) 2019.
- Caroline Levine et al, Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Academic Travel, Inside Higher Ed, 2019.
- Anna McKie, Scholars want sabbaticals and placements to fight climate change, Times Higher Education, Oct 2019.
- Richard Davies, How can internationalisation be compatible with carbon neutrality?, Times Higher Education, Oct 2019.
- Peter Kalmus, Fly less to convey urgency, Science, 365 (6460) 2019.
POM started with an inaugural meeting in January 2020, which was followed up with the second global event in June 2020. For past programs for these events, click here.