Lightning FAQ

Deadlines & Upcoming Dates

Deadline Activity
April 26 Deadline to correct/edit title, abstract, and author list
April 26 Deadline to alert organizers of time/date restrictions in scheduling talk
May 10 Initial scheduling assignments sent
May 17 Presenter response to scheduling assignment deadline due
May 24 Preliminary talk schedule announced
June 1 Deadline to register for conference to hold speaking slot
June 14 Whova conference platform will open to all registered participants
June 28 Prerecorded lightning talks should be submitted by 9 am EDT (New York)
Q: How and why would I need to update my abstract, title, or author list?

A: You may update your entry here. You will need your OpenConf ID number and the password set by your corresponding author.

Many authors submitted abstracts as pdfs only, with figures and special formatting. In order to have an abstract associated with your talk in the conference platform, you will need to have a brief, text only abstract.

Your abstract may be as much as 500 words long, but we encourage you to be more succinct (200-300) and write in the form you might use in a journal article in your field. You will have an opportunity to upload a file to the Whova platform at a later date (slides, a pdf, or an image).

Please take a moment to review your author order, presenter designation, and your title for accuracy. Please recall that a presenter is limited to two talks in the main conference: one oral contribution OR lightning talk and one poster presentation. If you have a presenter who is still listed as presenter for two or more lightning talks/oral contributions, please designate another speaker to the conference or withdraw the additional submissions.

Q: What if I have a formula or an image I would like people to see in my abstract?

A: The abstract field for the Whova platform is text-only. We recommend you do not include complex formulas and images are not allowed. You will have an opportunity later to upload an additional file in the Whova platform.

Q: How will you schedule talks, given the diversity of time zones represented by speakers?

A: Good question! Our best guess is that there are at least 18 time zone represented in our presenters, and there are no times that will work for everyone. However, we have committed to working with authors in all time zones to find a speaking slot that is within waking hours for their time zone. As you may imagine this will be a challenge.

Please let us know by April 26 about the dates and times you will be unavailable on this form.

The running hours for the main conference will be between 08:00 EDT and 22:00 (New York). Listed below are the time blocks we will be using throughout the six-day main conference.

First block: 08:00-11:00 New York/14:00-17:00 Rome/20:00-23:00 Shanghai
Second block: 11:00-14:00 New York/17:00-20:00 Rome/23:00-02:00 Shanghai (next day) Third block: 19:00-22:00 New York/01:00-04:00 Rome (next day)/07:00-10:00 Shanghai (next day)

If you would like to compare time zones, please visit this website.

Q: How will the lightning sessions be organized at this conference?

A: Lightning sessions will be comprised of a series of 12-18 prerecorded talks that are no longer than 5 minutes each. Speakers will be expected to be online during their entire assiged session to answer questions about through the Q&A function.

Q: Why are you requiring I prerecord my talk?

A: Lightning talks are strictly time limited and highly formatted. Recording allows you to precisely time your talk to fit in this format and for conference staff to make sure it it broadcast without delay following the previous presentation.

One advantage to prerecording is that you may answer Q&A directed to you through Zoom functions WHILE you are talking. In order to encourage more engagement with the lightning talks, all prerecordings will be published in the Whova conference platform and will be available for viewing and commenting before and after your lightning talk to conference attendees.

Q: May I list more than one presenting author?

A: Yes! Especially if you have prerecorded, authors sharing presenting duties is not a problem. However, each presenting author must be registered to the conference in order to be listed as a speaker. And keep in mind, at least one presenting author MUST be registered by June 1 in order for the work to remain in the program.

Q: How will I submit our prerecorded talk?

A: We are exploring two options, and will make that announcement soon. You will receive an email with instructions, and we will also update this page as soon as the portal is open.

Q: I think I may have missed an email from you. What have I missed?

A: We have heard from a few authors that they may have missed an email originating from the OpenConf system (which was a simple notice of decision, sent between April 5 and April 16) and a more detailed letter on April 11 with next-step instructions. It appears some university spam/junk filters are blocking emails from the OpenConf system and others from accounts. Most of the information in that more detailed email is in this FAQ, but in the interest of making sure all have access, we haved posted all author instructions and correspondence as an archive on this site and we will make sure any future emails are also archived. Please feel free to reach out to us using this form for fastest response.

Q: What if I need help?

A: You can always email us at

We will have several "Q&A" and "office hour" sessions in May and early June to help you directly with questions. You will be able to talk live to a conference staffer about your questions. Check the conference website and Twitter for announcements about the dates and times.

Once the conference starts, we will have posted staffed info desk hours, where you can chat live with a conference staffer or jump online to a Zoom help desk and speak to a staffer directly.