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Journal of Geophysical Research. Biogeosciences ; 126(1), 2021.
Article in English | ProQuest Central | ID: covidwho-1047929


In October 2020, under COVID‐19 quarantine, AmeriFlux held its largest and one of its most successful annual meetings. Historically, ∼100 scientists attend;this meeting had over 400 registrants and participants. Participants expressed that this was among the best virtual meetings that they had ever attended, and 100% of post‐meeting survey respondents stated that they would attend again. Feedback revealed the meeting fostered a strong sense of connection to the AmeriFlux community, especially among early career and international scientists. How did a feeling of strong connection to the community arise from the seemingly cold and isolated structures of virtual meetings?The meeting emphasized Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), which resulted in an unexpected enhancement of science communication and community connections. Additionally, the meeting experimented with an online virtual gaming‐like world (, where users controlled video/audio‐enabled avatars in a conference center and poster hall environment to create spontaneous conversations and discussions. In lieu of a social‐bonding field trip, participants showed videos of their field sites accompanied by informal banter, which were watched in group settings in Gather. Social mixers were structured over Zoom breakout rooms that were limited in size to promote participation with accessible games. Science talks were selected based on appeal to a demographically diverse organizing committee, which enhanced appeal to a broad meeting audience. Finally, breakout reports were given not in the format of bullet point slides, but instead as creatively improvized fairytales, which dramatically enhanced engagement. Here, we describe some of the process that went into the AmeriFlux 2020 meeting. Keeping with the theme of experimenting and fairytales, we present this narrative in the form of a fairytale;and, without further ado…