Yang Weng (The University of Tokyo), OCEANS 2022 Chennai SPC winner
The OCEANS Conference is a worldwide event for maritime professionals to share their research activities and innovations. My participation in the OCEANS event started at the Genova conference in 2015, when I was a fourth-year undergraduate student. The OCEANS Conference provides an excellent platform for students like us who are new to the field to connect with scholars from all over the world and learn about the research they are currently doing. At the OCEANS 2015 Genova conference, I met Professor Jen-Hwa Guo from National Taiwan University for the first time and then decided to follow him for a master’s degree. Afterward, I pursued my doctoral course at the University of Tokyo because of frequent communication with researchers from the University of Tokyo at OCEANS conferences.
Since 2020, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, hosting international conferences has become extremely challenging. It is difficult for international researchers to participate in person, and the biannual OCEANS conferences are merged into a joint annual conference. Nevertheless, the organizers of the OCEANS have been committed to providing an opportunity for international researchers to stay connected.
From February 21 to 24 this year, the OCEANS spring conference was held in Chennai, a coastal city in India. The OCEANS 2022 Chennai was a hybrid event with both an in-person and virtual presence. The newly launched online platform allows international attendees to virtually see what is happening at the physical event. The local committee issued virtual platform guidelines to all attendees in advance so that researchers could easily visit exhibitions, technical sessions, and other activities through the online system. In the technical program section, attendees could watch the presentation directly via zoom or YouTube in real time, or browse the presentation through the video library at their convenient time.
The newsletter section is a highlight at OCEANS 2022 Chennai. At the end of each day, the organizer emailed a quick review of the presentations and discussions held that day. The newsletter made it convenient for attendees to find activities they missed but were interested in and watch again through the virtual platform. It reminds me of my previous experience attending OCEANS conferences in person. During the chat, researchers could share interesting talks they have attended or are worth listening to next.
During each conference, the OCEANS Student Poster Competition (SPC) offers an opportunity for 20 – 22 students to present their research. Each student is required to present a poster and introduce their research to attendees and competition judges. This time I was selected for the SPC. Due to the epidemic, many students, including me, could only virtually attend the poster competition. During the selection process, we did presentations through the online system with those who attended the conference in person.
Chennai is a famous seaside city on the Bay of Bengal, and February is the best season to visit this coast. Although not able to be there in person, we still attended the OCEANS Conference virtually. Thanks to the organizers for their countless efforts to provide a valuable platform, allowing us young researchers to broaden our horizons despite current travel restrictions. We see the conference committee continue to improve the virtual platform to integrate online and offline events better.
Unlike the conferences held jointly by the two cities in the past two years, this time, the OCEANS was held by Chennai Committee alone. There will be another OCEANS event in Hampton Roads this year. It suggests that the OCEANS Conference may be gradually overcoming the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Maybe shortly, all marine researchers will be able to reunite at the OCEANS Conference.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to OCEANS 2022 Chennai. I was very lucky to win the first place in the SPC. Really appreciate the organization of the Chennai Committee and their recognition of my research. Winning an award in the SPC is a wish of mine since 2015.