Going virtual – the first CCDC UGM held online!

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Written by

Carmen Nitsche

Posted on

April 27, 2020

A few months ago, watching the news of COVID-19 spreading, we knew it would not be safe to hold our user group meeting at a hotel in Cambridge, MA as planned. Rather than cancelling, we moved this to become a virtual event which went ahead on the same date, 24th April 2020.

Don’t cancel, modify

User group meetings have been an important fixture in the CCDC calendar for many years. They provide a forum for us to hear from you, our users, in a relaxed and open discussion. The feedback and information we get from these meetings directly influence our future development plans. Because of this we knew we still needed some forum to hear from you, and we were determined not to cancel!

We wanted to maintain the open and collaborative spirit of the meeting – with speakers from the CCDC and other companies and institutions, open discussion and debate, and sociable networking opportunities. To achieve this we used a mixture of tools;

  • GoToMeeting – for presentations followed by open Q&A sessions
  • TeamRetro – for collecting and prioritizing ideas as a group (like virtual post-it notes on a wall)
  • Yapp – a mobile app to provide all the meeting materials, and to run quick polls and post instant messages and photos to keep it social.




How did it go?

If I say so myself, it was a success! The CCDC team was able to adapt our plans quickly and we mostly kept to our original agenda.

The day saw;

  • 37 attendees from across the USA but also around the world joining the conversation
  • Fantastic presentations from our guest speakers Tina Qin (Harvard University), Amy Sarjeant (BMS) and Joe Donahue (Accenture)
  • Over 40 ideas and suggestions collected on TeamRetro, which we discussed as a group to fully understand

The polls and chat in Yapp kept it fun too, with people sharing photos and asking questions – so hopefully some connections have been made just as you would at an in-person meeting.


Science needs networks

We absolutely support the social distancing measures in place around the world, which are essential to slow and stop the spread of the virus. Of course, the scientific community needs discussion and collaboration to make great work happen. So it is up to all of us to figure out how to achieve that during these extraordinary times.

We can be inspired by the many great collaborations and crowd-sourced projects to understand COVID-19.  Lets keep the back and forth conversation, serendipitous connections and unintended inspiration that events bring, just in new ways. Scientists using the CSD are central to our work, and we’re grateful we could still hear from them in such an open and interactive way.


Have you taken part in any other virtual events? We would love to hear your tips and learnings as to what was useful and why, and what tools you are using to grow your scientific networks. We will watch for your advice, which you can post on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook.

Be well!


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