Academy Research Fellow and Curator of the Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS Thomas Lilley and Adjunct Professor Eero Vesterinen from the University of Turku were granted the right to organise the EBRS already back in 2014 in Croatia. In 2017, the congress was held in the Basque Country, but then the pandemic forced all plans to change. The EBRS was moved forward from 2020 to May 2021. At the same time, the symposium became completely virtual. Right from the start, the project was extensive and ambitious.
The Finnish organisers were specialists from the University of Turku and the Finnish Museum of Natural History LUOMUS in Helsinki, but the Scientific Committee contained as many as 29 leading bat researchers from different institutes around the world. The keynote speakers came from the USA, Germany, Poland and Brazil, i.e. from different time zones. The symposium received registrations from 231 delegates, of whom 21 were Finnish. The rest were from several continents, meaning that the conference of a European organisation attracted a worldwide community of bat researchers, from places such as Arizona and Japan at the same time.
Thomas Lilley, Eero Vesterinen and their colleagues focused on hosting the virtual conference and moderating the discussions. Lilley and Veronika Laine were the symposium hosts responsible for the progress, atmosphere and accurate schedules of the conference. Vesterinen and researcher Anna Blomberg, a postgraduate student at the University of Turku, actively moderated the chat discussions.
According to Gunilla Sjöberg and Tina Ahonen from Aboa Congress and Event Services PCO, the virtual realisation of the poster sessions and exhibition received special praise from the participants. The posters, i.e. summaries of research topics, were made available in PDF format in themed virtual rooms where short pitches were followed by shared discussion.
In the virtual conference, the visibility available for exhibitors was divided into three payment classes. Exhibitors were able to participate in all discussions throughout the conference. They also had their own virtual presentation stands on the conference platform and an opportunity for showing videos and having a separate live chat.
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More information on Finland as a destination for meetings and congresses on the Finland Convention Bureau website.