Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Lorentz Centre workshop experience

Leiden University hosts the Lorentz Center. In fact, it is (partly) one floor below the astronomy departement. The idea behind the Lorentz center is simple: rather than having researches re-invent the wheel for the logistics of a workshop, a dedicated institution will run the whole thing for you. Your idea is judged on merit and off you go. The LC will provide a cool meeting space, generate and host the website, provide some funds for travel, free lunch for all participants, prints posters, nametags, organizes a conference dinner (ours was on a boat trip!!), has free bikes on hand and helps with every other logistical aspect.

They do, so the workshop organizer does not have to. I cannot overemphasize how stupendously awesome this is. It means professional workshops, no dropped logistical balls, and a workshop organization that can focus on the topic and science, not whether there are enough seats at the conference dinner or if the Hotel still has space.

I have been trying to organize a workshop for a while now. In South Africa this was stymied because I had no idea where to even begin to ask for money. Or what a half-decent venue was. At ESA, it died in bureaucratic BS about the actual rooms it had to be held in. At the Lorentz center, it was a breeze...

So. I will be doing this again in the remaining time I'm at Leiden. Or perhaps afterwards.

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