The BSLS annual conference for 2020 will be going ahead online, from 15th April

We hope all members are safe and well at this uncertain time.

It was a huge disappointment to the Society not to be staging its annual conference in Sheffield 15-17th April, and we were especially sad for this year’s organizers, Dr Katherine Ebury and Dr Helena Ifill, who we thank once again for their hard work over many months.

We are aware that our members have many commitments and concerns at this present time, but even so we thought it appropriate to try to do something which would replace the annual conference in the best way we could, given the circumstances and the short notice.

The executive committee has therefore decided to host an online version of the conference from Wednesday 15th April, on the BSLS website, and with a couple of live events via Microsoft Teams.

Speakers have been encouraged to make short videos of their presentations, or PowerPoints with audio narration, or pdfs, and they will be placed in the Members section of the website, and ready to view from Wednesday 15th.

We encourage members to leave comments and questions on each paper in the Members section, and also to tweet responses, using the hashtag #bsls2020 (and any handles or unique hashtags mentioned in the papers themselves).

The videos and pdfs will be made available until the end of April (at least in the first instance), but we hope delegates will view as many of them as possible 15-17th April, to emulate the immediacy of a face to face conference.

To open the conference formally, there will be a short live video stream Welcome via Microsoft Teams at 3pm BST on Wednesday 15th April. We urge everyone to join this event, to bring us all together and as a way of troubleshooting the platform.

At 3pm BST on Friday 17th, the Society will use Microsoft Teams to stream its AGM and one of the planned keynote talks, from Professor Martin Willis (thank you so much for agreeing to do this Martin!). We hope that the timing of this synchronous element will enable our international members to participate.

A week before the conference, all members should receive an email invitation from me (Greg Lynall) to join the BSLS2020 Microsoft Teams site, hosted by the University of Liverpool. You should download and install the MS Teams app, and log in to the Teams site, prior to Wednesday 15th. You will see ‘Welcome’ and ‘AGM and Keynote’ channels where those separate meetings will be held – please ‘Join’ the meetings, which will start at 3pm precisely on 15th and 17th. There are plenty of online guides to installing and troubleshooting MS Teams should you encounter any problems.

It is possible that the 2020 Winter Symposium will serve as a supplementary replacement to our annual conference, but it is too early to confirm this, or to say whether this will be hosted by a UK HE institution or run online. Nevertheless, we hope that hosting a virtual version of the annual conference on the original dates will allow our international members to be involved, whatever is eventually decided regarding the Winter Symposium.

The BSLS executive committee hopes that members will be able to embrace this alternative way for us to come together, and we look forward to reading your comments and seeing you over MS Teams very soon.

Best wishes, and take care,
Greg Lynall (BSLS Chair)