The ORBITAL ITN celebrated the completion of its first year this September, hosting a series of virtual meetings throughout the month in which all team members came together to discuss successes and challenges, and how to proceed into the next year.
It was no surprise the most obvious hurdles were brought on by COVID19-related lockdowns across the globe. Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) emphasized this point, stating, “…at some point, every human being starts to miss face-to-face conversations… all of us would like to meet the other ESRs”.
Despite the inability to host in-person consortium-wide meetings, ORBITAL was still able to ensure the ESRs, partners and beneficiaries spent time together virtually. Simon Kaja, from Experimentica and Loyola University Chicago, hosted weekly journal clubs and a bi-weekly seminar series, allowing the ESRs to spend time learning from each other and experts within the consortium. The April 2020 Kick-Off Meeting, a three-day, multi-staged virtual event, brought over 65 members together through innovative and ground-breaking workshops, online presentations, and special talks from our clinician and patient perspective partners. Overall, ESRs attended well over 60 different online trainings, talks, presentations, or other events, mostly online – getting advanced training in oral presentation, online presence, and ensuring the ORBITAL ITN remains at the forefront of innovation. Additionally, many ESRs were still able to travel on secondment, bringing at least two or three ESRs together throughout the year.
Beyond the successful trainings, ORBITAL ESRs also participated in many online events and competitions, including but not limited to the Twitter challenges “MyJobinResearch” and “EUinMyRegion”, which allowed them to practise speaking in laymens terms about their highly focused research and use creative outlets to display the impact.
The ORBITAL ITN is now looking forward into the next year. “Ultimately, we have to prepare ourselves for further unknown delays thanks to this global pandemic”, said Project Manager, Tess Ames, “We know that it will impact us again, and we have prepared for this.”
The group is now planning their next big all Consortium meeting, which they hope to change the face of future online gatherings.
“We can’t give all the details, but we are excited about how we hope to combine in-person and online sessions to drive engagement, increase the chances for ESRs to meet in person, and really utilize the expertise of our partners and beneficiaries to the full extent,” said Ames.
The full one-year project update will be made available shortly. To remain up to date on all recent news from ORBITAL, just go to www.ORBITAL-ITN.EU