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The Mass Media

Upcoming UMass Boston Ninth Annual SFE Earth Day Symposium


Illustration of Earth.

On April 22, the UMass Boston School for the Environment will be hosting their ninth Annual Earth Day Symposium via Zoom Webinar. 

The event will begin at 9 a.m. with opening remarks from Steve Curwood, executive director of the NPR program Living on Earth. Following the opening remarks, four poster sessions will occur, each lasting an hour and fifteen minutes. Because of the virtual nature of the event, iPosters and e-Lightning Webinar Talks will be used within each session. 

Bob Chen, the Interim Dean for the School for the Environment, the overall organizer of the event, and the individual who shifted the symposium over to a remote modality last year commented on how these elements will work via a Zoom interview.

“We’ll start with an e-lightning session,” said Chen. “So that’s a webinar where the speakers are panelists, and they give a two minute presentation of their poster, like an advertisement.”

Chen noted the interactive elements of the iPosters, saying, “All of the things within the poster are clickable, so you can put a high-res image behind it, you can put a video behind it, [or] you can put a website behind it.”

Elizabeth Boyle, Director of the Academic Achievement Service Center for the School for the Environment, also present in the Zoom interview, commented on the iPosters as well.

“I think in some ways there’s a lot more you can do with it than the traditional poster session with a 2D image,” said Boyle. “Obviously it’s sad not to be in person and talking to people . . . but I do like this kind of interactive feature to the posters. I think there’s a lot of potential with that.”

Chen emphasized the ways in which the event has been designed to try to reflect an in-person symposium.

“One of the key things about symposia is that you have interactions with the author . . . and we wanted to replicate what happens at an actual poster session in a conference,” said Chen.  

Chen explained that within the iPoster is a Zoom meeting link, and if a participant decides to click on the link, they will be brought to a Zoom session with the iPoster’s author, and anybody else that may have stopped in to check the poster out.

“So for the hour you’re jumping around from poster author to poster author, and one of the things that has really been interesting is that some alumni come by and meet other alumni in those rooms and just start chatting, because it’s like running into somebody at a conference in the hallway, except that you’re meeting them in a meeting in an interactive symposium,” remarked Chen. 

Poster topics range from urban shoreline management, to fracking, to micro-plastics in Nantucket, and presenters will include high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, and faculty. About 31 posters are expected to be presented.

Presenters are also eligible to win a cash prize for their posters. Faculty and staff sign up to be poster evaluators, and at least three cash prizes will be given out.

“We want people to do a good jobthere have been some phenomenal jobsand students need money to do stuff, and so this is a good way to support both the symposium as well as the students,” said Chen.

The day will end with the Rising Tides Concert and Social Hour. Partnering with UMass Boston, the Eureka ensemble describes this event on their website, saying: “Eureka Ensemble is proud to lead a series of performances and programs that raise awareness around the local impacts of climate change in New England by empowering young artists in Boston to be change-makers in their communities.”

When asked if there was anything else they would like to highlight, Boyle spoke to some of the advantages of the event.

“It’s free and open to all,” said Boyle. “Some of the posters are the result of classwork, so if students are kind of curious about what SFE classes are like, they can pop in and get a sense of what group poster presentation would be like.”

Chen mentioned the other Earth Week events that are happening this year at UMass Boston. Events include an environmental career panel and a student action day.
In order to register in advance for the Symposium, visit: https://umassboston.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_80DG5MEqT3uI9zkfqBgHcA. In order to view the iPosters on April 22, visit: http://umb2021-umb.ipostersessions.com.