• Adapting to the new normal: GASG's successful gas detection and analysis hybrid meetings and plans for the future

Gas Detection

Adapting to the new normal: GASG's successful gas detection and analysis hybrid meetings and plans for the future

Jan 26 2023

Over the past 12 months, the Gas Analysis and Sensing Group has made significant steps towards reinstating its pre-pandemic face-to-face approach to meetings, whilst continuing to enhance the remote access opportunities for members where preferred.

In December 2021, recognising the ongoing concerns over the risks from Covid, the 81st Colloquium was held on-line, continuing the approach used during the height of the pandemic. The topic was ‘Following the Science? - Exposure Limits, Toxicology and Human Health’. The programme featured a number of experts in the field who covered issues including occupational exposure limits, recent research in urban air quality and the impact of pollutants on cognition and respiratory health.

The usual post-talk Q and A sessions were moderated through the meeting tools whilst additional online breakout rooms allowed direct interaction with speakers. One advantage of using remote capabilities is the opportunity to include speakers who would be unable to attend in normal circumstances. On this occasion, for example, Professor Mike Jerrett (University of California, Los Angeles) described the latest work on the relevance and toxicity of tyre and brake particle emissions.
GASG Chair, Dr Jane Hodgkinson commented “When the pandemic first hit, we tried hard to replicate the in-person experience as far as possible with our online meetings. We were very fortunate in having our own administrators who were able to provide a high level of back-office support for this switch, sometimes at short notice. We established breakout rooms for informal chats during which many of us got to see each other’s workplaces, including one excellent shed that has now become famous within GASG! We had a minimum of online rules, the idea being that the experience was similar to a real meeting where people would conduct themselves just as appropriately. And it worked, right down to those occasions which raise a smile - like a phone going off at an embarrassing moment!”

In June, the improving Covid situation permitted the resumption of in-person attendance, and a parallel online capability enabled the group’s first hybrid meeting (the 82nd Colloquium) to be held on the subject of ‘Optical & Acoustic Gas Detection - Making Waves’. The venue was the Royal Navy’s Historic Portsmouth dockyard and allowed a mix of in-person and remote attendees to communicate with speakers and each other, going some way toward replicating the traditional GASG experience. The location offered the additional benefit of opportunities to visit a number of the fascinating exhibits such as the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior!

It has long been the tradition of GASG to seek to cover the widest possible range of gas analysis applications. On this occasion, Professor Amaury Triaud, (University of Birmingham) provided a fascinating overview of the applications of spectroscopy to exoplanets and their atmospheres. The rapid advances in this new field were explained and (as hinted in the presentation!) were subsequently reinforced by the public announcement of early results from the James Webb Space telescope just a few days later.
Building on the experience gained from this event, further enhancements to the on-line experience were identified and successfully implemented in the most recent hybrid meeting held at the start of December at City, University of London. GASG’s 83rd Colloquium, ‘The Great Escape - Detecting and Measuring Gas Leaks’ provided a comprehensive overview of this topic which is of growing relevance due to the impact of gas escapes upon anthropomorphic global warming. The meeting provided the opportunity to discuss the latest advances in sophisticated remote monitoring methods such as open path optical techniques. Several speakers also highlighted the urgent need to address methane emissions which are a potent driver of global warming - a fact which has sometimes been obscured by the focus on carbon dioxide. Again, the meeting was fortunate to have attracted experts from Europe, the US and the UK to provide timely, insightful and comprehensive information to the members on topics of relevance and interest. Dr Hodgkinson noted “Our meetings have always been a friendly place for the community to meet and share news. The event where it is worth the trip just for that chance 5-minute chat with somebody you wanted to get in touch with - or have never met before! So we are delighted to have face-to-face meetings in some excellent venues once again”

The first event planned for 2023 is the 4th Early Career Forum and 84th Colloquium, due to take place in person at Chicheley Hall, near Milton Keynes (UK), on 23rd March 2023. Previous GASG Early Career events have been very popular and well-received and this is a fantastic opportunity for early career staff and students to present their work and network with others in the field. The Gas Analysis and Sensing Group has a great strength in bringing together people in the field across multiple sectors including sensor, instrument and component manufacturers, end users, R&D, academics and consultants. This provides a reach into the “real world” that few other organisations can match, and the Early Career Forum is an excellent way to broaden the attendees’ horizons.

Applications for talks or poster presentations are currently being accepted. For information contact us at admin@gasg.info. The submission requirements are not onerous - no written paper is required, just a short abstract and tweet (which will be shared via the GASG account on the day). Where possible, GASG would seek to publish the slides or poster on the members’ section of their website after the event (with permission, and redacted if necessary), providing further useful exposure for early career workers. GASG are looking for presentations concerning:
• New sensors, instruments, components, analytical methods, modelling and results.
• Detection and measurement of gases, volatile species and particles.
• Policy, practice and legislation issues.
• Applications including environmental monitoring, industrial safety, security, food and agriculture,
  healthcare, transport, manufacturing and any other related topics.

Looking further ahead, GASG intends to deliver more meetings featuring renowned experts in the field covering the latest developments in gas detection around the world. These events will also provide further opportunities to meet and discuss shared interests in gas analysis and sensing with those from academia, business, institutes and other organisations.

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