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Sep 10
Thoughts about the What’s New in MPMI! Virtual Seminar Series


The free virtual seminar series What’s New in MPMI! launched on June 10 with a presentation by Matt Neubauer from the Roger Innes lab. Since then, there have been six installments in the series, each featuring a 25-minute talk and a Q&A session. This series was conceptualized and is hosted by Jeanne Harris, the editor-in-chief of MPMI, who shares her thoughts on the value of virtual seminars for the IS-MPMI community.

I think there’s a real hunger for connection right now. We’ve always been a far-flung society with members across the world, but with the increased isolation that the pandemic brings, along with the cancellation of conferences, seminars, and classes, people really want to connect, learn about new findings, and think about new ideas. Many IS-MPMI members do not have colleagues at their home institutions who share their interests in plant–microbe interactions. For us, attending conferences or hosting colleagues from other institutions gives us a chance not only to learn new things but also to develop our own thinking.

I’m excited about the What’s New in MPMI! virtual seminar series, because it provides new ways for the IS-MPMI community to connect and for MPMI to engage with readers and authors. The interaction is outside the regular publication cycle and is much more personal, giving readers and listeners the chance to directly interact with the authors. Listeners can ask questions and learn more about how the research happened and where it’s going, as well as technical details. Presenting a published MPMI paper in this way is also exciting for authors as they get to hear what readers think and talk directly to people all over the world about their findings.

This series also strives to build connections within our international community and to foster inclusion. Because our seminar series is freeno subscription, membership, or registration fee is requiredit is accessible to everyone. We are alternating presentations between two times to appeal to different time zones. As a result, we draw participants from around the globe to each live session.

Because each session is recorded, it makes it possible for people in different time zones or who have conflicting commitments to access the entire seminar, including the extensive Q&A. The recording makes it easier for people for whom English is not a first language, as they can relisten to different sections. The extended Q&A session gives people time to formulate and type questions and opens the opportunity for everyone to engage with the speaker.

To increase the ability of listeners to engage with the MPMI journal, each article that is presented is freely available to read through the end of the year, an important step in our transition to making the journal gold open access starting in January 2021! Providing full access to the paper gives listeners a chance to dive more deeply into the data or check out the methods.

Since this series launched, we have hosted six seminars and have more scheduled. We’ve received positive feedback from around the world. People are excited to have a way to interact with the authors, and some have told me that they plan to use the videos as teaching tools in their graduate seminar discussions.

This new venture has been one of the most personally satisfying aspects of being editor-in-chief—opening up the research in MPMI to new audiences and deepening engagement with our community. You can find all the recordings and upcoming seminars here. Please join us!

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