Published: March 31, 2020
Finance in the Cloud virtual conference participant

Conference cancellations and postponements in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak are creating a chasm for academic researchers. Gone are the in-person opportunities for faculty—especially untenured faculty—to exchange ideas, workshop their research papers and engage in thoughtful dialogue. But not for long.

Tony Cookson, Associate Professor of Finance and co-director of the Center for Research on Consumer Financial Decision Making, immediately recognized the implications these cancellations could have for faculty on the tenure track and decided to address it head-on. Cookson established a series of virtual conferences for finance researchers he collectively titled “Finance in the Cloud.”

The initial conferences are geared for early-career researchers with the potential expansion to broader audiences in the future. The virtual events will be key for these faculty to continue to market their research and themselves while social distancing, the closure of college campuses, laboratories and inability to meet en masse diminishes interactivity.

“Young researchers need to produce research to benefit their progress toward their tenure track,” says Cookson. “This wave of cancellations is particularly disruptive for those who have not yet fully established their reputations.”

The first virtual conference held on March 27 focused on household finance, consumer decision making and the financial implications of COVID-19 on our daily lives. The second will highlight innovation and entrepreneurship.

Participation in the conferences is limited to early-career faculty. Cookson hopes that this will encourage junior researchers to experiment with the remote format, which has not been tried until now. In addition, conferences solely for junior faculty allow the focus to be on obtaining feedback on their papers, sourcing ideas, finding the holes in their work and limiting the disruption to their professional development and careers.

The remote format also provides a timely opportunity for the researchers to hone their presentation skills in what could become the “new normal” for research collaboration and dissemination in the future. 

Learn more at Finance in the Cloud Virtual Conference.