eLTER Venus meeting: 8 days, 25 sessions and +150 participants

In the period from 7 to 16 April, the consortia of the eLTER projects, eLTER PPP and eLTER PLUS, had another joint working meeting. This time, due to the pandemic situation, in a purely virtual form.

As at the last joint eLTER consortium meeting, due to the lack of a real meeting location, the name of a planet in our solar system, this time Venus, was used as the meeting name.

The event programme was structured with the aim of reducing daily screen time and "zoom fatigue", which resulted in the overall duration of the meeting being longer but each day being less intensive and less time consuming.The meeting started and ended with a plenary day, and in the period in between, self-organised sessions were held by the projects' Work package,Theme and Task leads.

Over 150 people from both consortia of the eLTER projects took part in 25 sessions with the audience for each of them varying between +30 to >150. Naturally, due to the high number of participants and sessions, this presented a significant organizational and logistical challenge which was successfully overcome with the joint efforts of both organisers and participants.

The meeting started with high-profile guest speakers valorizing the framework where an international research infrastructure operates. A great honor for eLTER was the two presentations on expected scientific impacts and overview of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) given by its chair Jan Hrusak and Gelsomina Pappalardo, member of the ESFRI executive board.

Another highlight was the talk by Florian Haslinger (EPOS Seismological cores service coordinator, ETH Zürich) who brought first-hand experiences on working in the European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC), coupled with important advice and insights. In addition, an important and informative presentation was given by TERN's coordinator, Beryl Morris, from the perspective of a continental RI in operation in Australia, highlighting the benefits and services of the RI for its various users.

The topics of the sessions varied from "Service Portfolios for stakeholder groups" and “Achievements and highlights from PLUS and PPP”, through “Socio-economic impact” and “Strategic plan”, to “Information Clusters”, “Standard observations”, “Ethics and Equity”, “Whole system research” and others.

The event was very well received by participants. The numerous comments and suggestions during the sessions will help to refine and improve the further development of eLTER. At the end of the Venus meeting, three words stood out to sum up the impressions of the participants and the organising team: tired, motivated and happy. 

The next meeting, which will take place in the autumn, probably in hybrid form, will offer even more challenges. It is planned to invite speakers as well as guests from outside the eLTER community. Topics will include the first results of pilot services and thematic research challenges testing the Whole System approach.