The APS/IIT 2021 XAFS Virtual Summer School was successfully held Aug 1-4 2021 online.
This was a joint effort of IIT and the Advanced Photon Source and beamline staff. More than a dozen people from ANL and IIT served as synchronous instructors, including Steve Heald, Matt Newville, Shelly Kelly, and other beamline scientists from the APS, and Grant Bunker, Carlo Segre, and Jeff Terry from IIT Physics Department.
In contrast to the usual annual course that is held at IIT and ANL for 40-50 students, this year it was held virtually via pre-recorded videos, synchronous live demonstrations at five APS beamlines, and more than 8 hours of synchronous (Zoom) software demos and question and answer sessions, covering the main topics of the course: theory, experiment, and data analysis.
The virtual format and the low cost associated with hosting and attending it, made it possible to reach an order of magnitude larger-than-usual group of participants: mostly graduate students, postdocs, professors, and working scientists from government and industrial labs around the world. The total number of participants was nearly 400 people, with representation from 22 different countries and 6 continents. Participation in the synchronous Q&A sessions was very manageable and afforded an opportunity for software demonstrations, and good questions and discussions of points of practical and fundamental interest.
The online modality clearly has clear strengths and may serve as a useful alternative format in the future, even in the absence of a global pandemic.
We want to thank all of the instructors and participants for a successful summer school.
Grant Bunker and Carlo Segre, Professors of Physics, Co-organizers