Thank them - they made ScienceOnline'09 possible

Jan 25, 2009

ScienceOnline’09, the third annual science communication conference (successor to the 2007 and 2008 North Carolina Science Blogging Conferences), was another unqualified success — wifi issues notwithstanding. A round 200 scientists, educators, students, journalists and bloggers gathered for three days of activities, meals, sessions and hallway conversations to explore ways to use online tools to promote the public understanding of, and engagement in, science.

Find a comprehensive listing of links (compiled by the tireless and eponymous Bora) to the many blog entries and video clips posted before, during and after the conference to learn about the conversations and networking at the conference.

Like our first two conferences, ScienceOnline’09 was a collective activity — many organizations, companies and individuals pitched in, in ways large and small, to keep this conference free, attendees fed and the discussion lively. Please join us in thanking them — read below, and click through to their websites to show your interest in what they do. (We thanked the sponsors of the second event here and the first event here.)

So, a huge “thank you” to our sponsors for helping us to keep this event free:

Our host
Sigma Xi once again hosted the ScienceOnline’09 conference, as well as the WiSE networking event — for free — in their beautiful center. Meg Murphy kindly facilitated this — she’s the unsung hero of the conference! and Michael Heisel was on hand for tech support. Sigma Xi was founded in 1886 to honor excellence in scientific investigation and encourage a sense of companionship and cooperation among researchers in all fields of science and engineering.

Our institutional partner
The NC Museum of Life and Science, which last year arranged for the awesome grab bags, this year stepped up to be our institutional partner (to handle our funds). Debbie May, VP for Administration/CFO, was a delight to work with, and Troy Livingston, VP for Innovation Learning, continues to be one of our biggest boosters. The museum exists to create a place of lifelong learning where people, from young child to senior citizen, embrace science as a way of knowing about themselves, their community, and their world — I’m there many weekends with my daughters.

Our sponsors
Burroughs Wellcome Fund once again gave us a substantial grant to support the conference. Russ Campbell, communications officer, helped to make sure this funding was available to us. BWFund is an independent private foundation dedicated to advancing the biomedical sciences by supporting research and other scientific and educational activities.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center repeated its support with a biotechnology event sponsorship grant; Ginny DeLuca and Chris Brodie there are our supporters. NCBiotech seeks to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide.

We used the grants from BWFund and NCBiotech to give small travel stipends to our many session discussion leaders.

JMP Software, for the third year in a row, provided a cash grant to help pay for our delicious lunch. JMP is a division of SAS, the leader in business intelligence and analytics — they’ve also donated a copy of their JMP 8 software (worth $1500), which we’ll have as a drawing prize on Saturday.

Science In the Triangle was a new sponsor this year. This site is an evolving experiment in community science journalism and scientific-community organizing. If you are based here in the Triangle, think about how you might collaborate with the site to spread news of your organization or research — Bora and I are looking forward to getting involved with the effort.

Research Triangle Foundation helped us even our accounts with a last-minute grant. The Foundation just celebrated the 50th anniversary of Research Triangle Park, and will host the XXVI International Association of Science Parks World Conference June 1-4, 2009.

Blogads has sponsored many of our BlogTogether events over the last four years, and once again Henry Copeland and his crew made a donation to this conference. They pioneered blog advertising in 2002 and trail-blaze today.

We used the donations from JMP, Science In the Triangle, Research Triangle Foundation and Blogads to feed everyone, with good coffee in the morning and delicious sandwiches and Mediterranean salads at lunch.

Our donors
Enrico Maria Balli, Kim Gainer, Ryan Somma and Russ Campbell made personal cash donations, and David Kroll, our co-organizer, dipped into his own pocket to help make the conference unique.

Grab bag of science swag
This year, IBM provided recycled reusable bags. Other organizations, companies and individuals donated materials, including: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Seed Magazine, Public Library of Science, COPUS Year of Science, Harper Collins, JMP Software, NC Sea Grant, National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and others to be named later.

Friday events
Counter Culture Coffee invited us to attend their weekly coffee cupping. Mark Overbay, marketing communications manager, facilitated our group of 25 and gave a tour of the coffee roasting operation.

Afternoon lab tours were hosted by NCCU’s Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (David Kroll, director), Duke’s Lemur Center and Smart Home (Karl Bates arranged these), and the NC Museum of Natural Sciences (Roy Campbell was host and tour leader).

Rebecca Skloot couldn’t join us last year, but with her book finally drafted and off to her publisher, she was game to come to RTP this year to attend ScienceOnline’09 and keynote the Women in Science and Engineering networking event Friday night at Sigma Xi. Erica Tsai, Phoebe Lee, Ana Sanchez, Amrika Deonarine and Rachel Witek put together a fantastic event, and Skloot’s talk about the immortal contribution of Henrietta Lacks to science was riveting. (Abel Pharmboy hosted a rousing wine tasting, too.)

Our discussion leaders
ScienceOnline’09 was an unconference in which all attendees were encouraged to participate and share alike; we asked 69 of them to serve as session discussion leaders, to provide their experiences or perspectives as a way to spark the session conversations. See the conference agenda to find out who facilitated which sessions.

Our volunteers
Elle Cayabyab Gitlin and Risha Zuckerman demanded the opportunity to spend the conference sitting at our welcome/registration table — they were awesome! Larry Boles and Bill Hooker stuck around to help clean up. Lots of others helped out throughout the weekend, offering rides, organizing the swag table, keeping us on track and much more. Kevin Zelnio designed awesome name badges that in the end, couldn’t be completed due to some technical difficulties with our printer. Thank you to you all.

The Food
Meals were catered or ordered from Fetzko Coffees, Weaver Street Market, Saladelia Cafe, and Mediterranean Deli. The Thursday Early Bird Dinner was held at Town Hall Grill. Many local attendees brought fruit to share.

The organizers
If you don’t know by now, Bora Zivkovic is both the inspiration for the annual conference and the around-the-clock heart of the event’s online and off-line activities; he organized the program after many months of brainstorming with our session discussion leaders. He’s simply amazing. Meanwhile, “Anton Zuiker“http://mistersugar.com and Abel Pharmboy took care of the other details.

Again, a huge ‘thank you’ to all the individuals and organizations supporting our free, public-understanding-of-science conference.

Anton Zuiker

© 2000 Zuiker Chronicles Publishing, LLC