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By Jane Horrell 29 March 2020

A small grouping of neuroscientists has organised a conference that is virtual an ‘online dating’ system.

The international research community is finding alternative ways of getting together to present their work, exchange ideas, and make new connections with like-minded people in their area with academic conferences cancelled worldwide due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This week, Dr Dan Goodman and peers through the University of Pennsylvania are going to be hosting neuromatch — a free, web-based “unconference” for neuroscientists. Along with online presentations from invited speakers, the function includes a computer-assisted element that is online-networking adapted through the mind-matching sessions which can be a recently available function regarding the intellectual Computational Neuroscience (CCN) seminar. ”

“a significant few conferences already current talks online” says Dan, “but that only captures a number of the seminar experience. A part that is really important fulfilling brand brand new individuals and beginning new collaborations. “

The mind-matching system utilizes abstracts of submitted research papers, and applies machine algorithms that are learning to immediately match participants for a number of 15-minute one-to-one chats — which Dan defines as a little like educational speed-dating.

“The matching algorithm functions by finding categories of researchers whom use comparable terms and combinations of terms to explain their research, and excluding pairs whom know already one another. Allowing it suggest brand new conferences between individuals who usually do not already know just one another, but should really, centered on their research interest. ”

He had been really impressed using the real-life version at CCN. “It worked amazingly well. As an example, I realized a couple have been doing extremely comparable jobs to me personally — but none of us knew one another. “

Breaking the ice, without warming our planet

With a watch towards the future and also the weather crisis, the team is keen to lessen environmentally friendly effect of educational conferences. Having approximated that delegates might have travelled an overall total of approximately 3 million kilometres to simply one meeting year that is last that they had currently planned to keep an on-line networking occasion later on come july 1st.

As a result to seminars unexpectedly being terminated, Dan along with his colleagues have already been in a position to organise and bring ahead neuromatch rapidly. Numerous leading speakers with this year’s cancelled occasions are taking part, plus in simply fourteen days the two-day programme of presentations, conversation groups and networking has drawn over 1,200 registrations and 100 speaks.

The origin code will be released as open source in order that other seminar organisers can give it a try on their own. Dan also offers a final year undergraduate student project taking care of the scalability regarding the algorithms and their application with other medical disciplines and past.

“Longer term, we would like to own sort of myspace and facebook where individuals can join and it sporadically proposes brand new matches for them — like a website that is dating researchers! “

Article text (excluding pictures or pictures) © Imperial university London.

Photos and graphics susceptible to party that is third combined with authorization or © Imperial College London.


Jane Horrell Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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