3 Questions with Andrea Armani

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Andrea Armani

Photonics Media spoke with professor Andrea Armani of the University of Southern California about the first Photonics Online Meetup (POM). Armani organized and co-chaired the event with Orad Reshef of the University of Ottawa. The mission of POM is to improve the accessibility of conference attendance, reduce the carbon footprint and the burden on family of conference travel, and reduce the cost of conference participation. Participation in POM — presenting or watching — was completely free. Photo courtesy of USC Viterbi.

How did the first Photonics Online Meetup go?

Awesome! Here are the numbers:

It was free to join, with five hours of talks, 635-plus people in 66 hubs in 27 countries on six continents, plus another 500 people connected individually or in nonregistered groups in an additional 10 countries. A total of 37 countries joined in.

There were 59 posters, with an average of 27 likes, three comments, and five retweets. There was a total average of 3000 impressions. We’re still doing a more in-depth analysis with ongoing surveys.

How did you connect everyone for the event?

We organized POM hubs around the world, which were places where people could gather to watch the meetup as a group. Hub organizers were those who planned to stream the event. On Jan. 9, a few days before the actual event (which ran Jan. 13), posters were posted on Twitter, and threads (additional posts) were added to explain them. To make POM broadly accessible, we hosted the event using webcasting software. Specifically, speakers gave their presentations from their physical locations, and participants were able to take part from their physical locations, too. To facilitate audience participation and encourage learning, the time allotted for questions was extended. Questions were entered by participants through an online portal during the presentation. The presentations were also recorded to allow for multiple viewings. The POM website ( hosted a link to the presentations, which were available for a limited time, through the end of January.

What are the plans for future meetups?

We are still in the planning phases, but, given the interest and success of this one, there will definitely be more! We are taking into consideration the feedback from the participants in our planning.

Courtesy of Mark Veksler.

Courtesy of Mark Veksler.

Published: January 2020
Photonics Online MeetupPOMAndrea ArmaniOrad ReshefPOM hubs3 Questions

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