By Nayiri Mullinix
Face-to-face gatherings are incredibly valuable for many reasons, and we are very excited to get back to them soon. In the meantime, we’re reflecting on our virtual experiences and finding the silver linings wherever we can.
We offered the first virtual Focus Week in December 2020 and saw great participation for the totally free experience that was presented in bite-size chunks over the course of two weeks. Bite-size was key because, let’s be honest, sitting alone in front of a computer for too long a time can be exhausting and, well, can get boring.
The success of the first led to our decision to offer one more virtual version of Focus Week before we go back to business as usual and meet in person again in 2022. Eight teams fully participated in the second virtual Focus Week, which took place June 14-24, 2021, with several others joining sessions “a la carte.”
When we ask participants to let us know how things went, we often hear that the lessons learned are of incredible value. Since the topics covered are out of the normal scope of a researcher’s skills and knowledge base, attendees walk away with fresh ideas and perspectives on how to find success when building and operating a science gateway. This time was no exception.
Dr. Twila Moon of the National Snow & Ice Data Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, attended with her Changing Ice project team, and said, “Focus Week covered many important topics that aren’t usually covered for researchers, including long-term budgeting, marketing, audience/user research, and diverse and sustainable funding. Learning from case studies and from others in the workshop was really useful and I came away with a few solid goals and many ideas for how to create a more sustainable project. Also, since these are important ideas regardless of the project, I now have more tools for improvements across multiple projects and even higher levels of my organization.”