Published September 22, 2022
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, UB faculty member Alexey Akimov wanted to find a way to help scientists in his field of theoretical chemistry and physics stay connected about the latest research advancements. As in-person events were cancelled around the world, he worked with colleagues to fill the gap.
Soon, the Virtual International Seminar on Theoretical Advancements (VISTA), an online event series, was born.
“The idea was simple,” says Akimov, associate professor of chemistry. “As the COVID pandemic started, almost all conferences and in-person meetings were shut down. So VISTA was one way to bring like-minded people, initially in my area of nonadiabatic and quantum dynamics, together. Usually, we have 30 to 70 attendees per seminar, including many internationally renowned scientists, with nearly anyone across the world being able to join us for free. It is a rather cozy and semi-formal setting, where sessions are made small to promote discussions.”
Two years later, the bi-weekly seminar series continues. More than 40 VISTA seminars have taken place, acting as a “presentation journal” to facilitate interactions and scientific discussions of the international community,” according to organizers. VISTA’s executive committee includes scientists from multiple continents, and presenters are global as well. The events and recordings have garnered over 2,000 views or downloads from more than 1,000 unique users, Akimov says.
Because the event is virtual, it results in “a lot of money saved and much less CO2 released,” he notes. He is also enthusiastic about engaging and celebrating scientists at every point in their careers.
“We mix senior- and junior-level presenters to give participants a lot of exposure,” Akimov says. “All seminars are recorded and free, so hopefully this is useful to a bigger community.”
According to the VISTA website, the seminar series features presentations on theory and computations for nonequilibrium dynamics of excited states and quantum dynamics, broadly defined. Of special interest are new developments in quantum and nonadiabatic dynamics, trajectory-based and surface-hopping approaches, semi-classical and quantum-classical methodologies, new software and tools for nonadiabatic and quantum dynamics, as well as the applications of these cutting-edge techniques to a variety of complex systems and materials, such as solar energy harvesting and photoresponsive materials. Experimental works that require the attention of and can benefit from theoretical investigations are also of interest.
Researchers at UB and other institutions who are interested in submitting an abstract for consideration can use the VISTA online submission form. Researchers with questions about the event series can contact Akimov at email@example.com.