eResearch NZ2021: How can the eResearch community continue to ‘Level Up’?

The annual eResearch NZ conference took place both in-person and online for the first time, bringing communities in New Zealand and overseas together through virtual tools and in flexi learning spaces kindly provided by Victoria University of Wellington.

The conference tackled some big themes and ideas, with presentations and panel discussions on a variety of topics. The Keynote sessions considered the importance of communication through data, be that through the genomics sequencing that informed New Zealand’s COVID-19 response and the collaborative effort across the sector that supported it, or through storytelling with data and the creative ways researchers can communicate their findings. Alongside panel discussions on Te Ao Māori in eResearch, infrastructure funding and research resiliency and the technology and tools that support research organisations, the variety and breadth of discussion across the three day event highlighted the multidisciplinary reach of the eResearch community and the value that this brings to the sector.

With the growth of data and computationally intensive research happening across an increasing number of fields, both in New Zealand and internationally, how can those that support research infrastructure link researchers to the capacity, skills training and resources that they need to take their work to the next level?

Hon. Dr Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, opened the conference, sharing ways the government would look to grow the impact of the eResearch sector, including leveling up funding, the quantity of data-intensive research, the representation and diversity in the research workforce and strengthening connections through sharing skills, experiences and resources across communities of interest like those that gather at the eResearch NZ conference each year. 

Training, Birds-of-a-Feather (BoF) sessions and workshops were valuable opportunities to bring together and develop our eResearch and data science communities of interest. Summaries of the key outcomes to take away from the Carpentries Connect, RSE community and Women in HPC sessions are available here for those that were not able to attend.

eResearchNZ 2020 attendees listening to opening keynote Dr. Sydney Shep from Victoria University of Wellington.


Co-hosted by NeSI, REANNZ, and Genomic Aotearoa, organisation for this year’s conference took the theme of ‘Level Up’ literally, reflecting the ability of the sector to adapt with increasing speed in order to respond to change and collaborate on solutions, be that putting together a hybrid event or preparing contingency plans for potential changes to alert levels. The hybrid structure provided many learnings, a huge number of attendees enjoyed the accessibility of a virtual platform and the ability to re-watch the recorded presentations, but also valued the opportunity for connection and networking in person. Developing engaging ways that this same interaction can be facilitated virtually will be a key take away for the organising committee for events to come.

As the community attends and organises events throughout the year and looks forward to the next eResearch conference, let's continue to build on the collaborative momentum initiated at this year’s event. The impact when the community has come together to collaborate is seen every day here in New Zealand.

If you haven’t already, please share your feedback for future events with the organising committee via the survey. Stay across updates for future events by connecting with the hosting organisations through their mailing lists and channels.

Other session recaps: