b'Education matters Education mattersno online visual presentation or face-The flagship conference of ourto-face discussion (in the ilk of a Zoominternational partner, the Society of meeting) was available. Presenters wereExploration Geophysicists, whichencouraged to upload a presentation oris still scheduled for Houston Texasposter that appeared via a link with eachin October 2020. At time of writingonline abstract, thus it was possible for athe SEG is wrestling to find the bestviewer to read and gain some in-depth(or least-worst) option in order tounderstanding of the scope of a paper.go ahead with this meeting. ManyHowever, only 61% of presenters actedcountries (definitely Australia) willto post a presentation. The resultantnot permit air-travel in this calendarsessions, limited to text Q&A and theyear for intending delegates. The SEGinevitable time delays produced byis also feeling the COVID-19 crisis intyping and reading between the Q andits general operations and financialMichael Astenthe A were, in my view, disappointinglysupport, including having to enactAssociate Editor for Educationshallow - especially in the context of theforced redundancies on a quarter of itsmichael.asten@monash.edu huge effort by presenters, conveners andhead-office staff in Tulsa.organisers to arrange one of the largest Earth Science conferences on the globe.Meanwhile, universities worldwide But, viewing the cup as half-full notare suffering acute contraction pains Geophysics in atriggered by workplace lockdowns and half-empty, those presentations are now COVID-19 world online permanently as part of the bodytravel restrictions. A major causative of non-peer-reviewed scientific literature. factor is the very large growth of foreign student enrolments in the past decade, I have spent some months since lastThe EGu meeting is only one of hundredsincome from which has cross-subsidised year preparing a conference paper onof scientific conferences affected by themany university research and teaching evidence for 6000-year natural cyclesnow-infamous virus. Our own Australianactivities. Timothy Devinney (university of climate change over the past 20 000Exploration Geoscience Conferenceof Manchester) and Grahame Dowling years (a fourth paper of mine on natural(AEGC 2021) scheduled for next April(university of NSW) writing in the Times cycles of climate change over the pasthas been postponed to SeptemberHigher Education Supplement (https://four years). The conference has now2021 (see announcement elsewhere inwww.timeshighereducation.com/been and gone, and I have a grand totalthis issue) in the hope of dodging thefeatures/crisis-higher-education-needs-of three short online text questions,worst of the virus-induced limitationshave) take a sometimes harshly critical and one correction to my terminology,in travel mobility and creativity. Afterview of university management both to show for it. No networking, no facesmuch internal consultation our societiesin Australia and overseas. Time will tell to remember, or contacts for furtherhave decided on the delay of 6 months,if they are being wise after event of the discussion. Is this the future of scientificfollowed by continuance of a delayedunpredictable calamity of COVID-19, research? 18-month AEGC conference cycle. Thusor whether the virus merely triggered I dont think soI certainly hope notour professional activity, publication anda problem already in the making. Whatbut it epitomizes the remarkable road- exhibition opportunities will lock in ais undeniable is that current students, blocks to our work introduced by the6-month dead-period in 2020; we hoperesearch students and early-career presence of the COVID-19 virus. that dead period will not prove to be anyresearchers, regardless of nationality, longer. are hugely impacted by the loss of the The conference I speak of is the Europeanuniversity experience of networking Geophysical union annual meeting inFour other disrupted conferences whichand mentoring as we endeavour to offer April-May in Vienna. The organisers werewill affect many of our constituency are: geoscience lectures and practical classes faced with an especially difficult timevia online formats.frame for decision making when lock-The International Geological downs and bans on international travelCongress in Delhi, which has Among Australian universities, the commenced, well after the majority of 18been delayed from March 2020 to university of NSW has a forecasted budget 036 intended attendees had registeredNovember 2020. It is hard to see how shortfall of $650M, and my own workplace, and lodged their accepted conferencethis conference can survive given the Monash university, is posting an expected abstracts. To their credit, the conferenceexpected continuing restrictions on $350M contraction. Achieving necessary organisers put science before profit andinternational travel. savings in my own School has resulted in set up an online conference format, while The 6th International Archeana freezing of most research expenditures, refunding all conference registration fees. Symposium (6IAS), which was a ban on travel and restriction of field scheduled for Perth in July 2020 programmes to single-day outingsrather The online conference used sendbirdhas been postponed for at least 12 a challenge for geoscientists studying the software (sendbird.com) so that eachmonths. rocks of our wide brown land. Bureaucrats scheduled session could proceed at the The 17 thWorld Congress onhave helpfully added additional advice allocated time, with session convenorsEarthquake Engineering, Sendai that on those outings we should take our moderating online statements and Q&A.Japan, which has been delayed from own sandwiches rather than patronizing However, the text-based chat meant thatSeptember 2020 to September 2021. take-away outlets.25 PREVIEW JuNE 2020'