Resources and Tips for Elevating Your Team Science in an All-Virtual World

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By: Rachael Blake, Rebecca Beilinson, Nicole Motzer, Kelly Hondula, and Quentin Read

A graphic of people interacting from various technologies.

As we’ve settled into the groove of working and meeting online, Zoom calls are getting easier, but substituting in-person interactions with online-only exchanges for the long term remains a challenge for many. Here, SESYNC is sharing our available resources and best practices for making the most of your virtual meetings, keeping your project on track, maintaining your team’s motivation, and sustaining that human connection.

Click below for more information on the following topics:


Personalized Support for SESYNC Teams

Our trained facilitators, team science experts, and data scientists are here to help you overcome the unprecedented challenges your team may be facing in this extended period of distancing and isolation. While upcoming in-person meetings at SESYNC have been cancelled, our staff is continuing to provide remote support services for our teams. Please reach out to us with any problems, questions, or uncertainties you are experiencing—big and small.

Team Science Support:

Need advice on designing efficient and effective virtual meetings? Having issues maintaining team engagement and momentum? Unsure how to facilitate certain team dynamics without the benefit of face-to-face interaction? Unclear how to integrate ideas or results into a broader synthesis narrative?  We’re here to help with a new support service:! Contact us with team science questions or issues directly related to your SESYNC-supported work and we will happily connect you with one of our experts on staff. Help can take the form of:

  • Q&A over email
  • Live online coaching sessions over Zoom (up to 1 hour each)
  • Feedback on meeting agendas, team documents, and other Pursuit materials.

Computational Support:

Are you having issues with cleaning or harmonizing your data? Got data analysis problems? We’re here to help! Contact with your data science questions, or visit to view our frequently asked questions, quick-start pages describing how to use SESYNC resources, and full-length lessons on topics including text mining, creating maps, and agent-based modeling. We are available to help via email, or we can schedule a Zoom meeting to discuss your data science problems in depth. Common issues that the Cyberhelp team can assist you with include:

  • Managing participant and technology logistics during a remote meeting (e.g., Zoom video call)
  • Processing/analyzing data on remote servers (e.g., “Slurm” computing cluster, Rstudio server, Jupyter server) 
  • Sharing code and results (e.g., git, GitHub/GitLab, GitHub gists, data visualization, interactive visualizations)
  • Sharing and managing data (e.g., SESYNC storage, SQL databases)



Resources from SESYNC

Guidance and Tips from SESYNC's Experts

Best Practices for Organizing Virtual Meetings – Step-by-step guidance from SESYNC’s Cyber Staff for team leads on making the most of your virtual meetings

Quick Tips for Virtual Interactions – Basic tips for meetings of all sizes

Keeping Your Team Connected and Motivated – Strategies from SESYNC’s team science experts on maintaining momentum as you adapt to long-term, all-virtual collaborations—during and between Zoom meetings

Technological solutions to streamline your team’s virtual project - Strategies for managing each stage of your project, through 4 quick case studies of hypothetical SESYNC teams.

What technological options exist for virtual team communication? - An overview of software and tool options for enhancing your online collaboration

Zoom Support for SESYNC Teams – An overview of the technical support that SESYNC can provide for your Zoom meetings, as well as useful Zoom features for enhancing your meetings

What is slack and why is it useful for team science - An overview of the Slack messaging platform and its uses for team science at SESYNC. 

Accounts from SESYNC Researchers

Who Knew? Virtual Meetings Less Scary Than Climate Change – A blog post from SESYNC postdoc Rachel Mason about lessons learned from her experience virtually organizing and hosting the first meeting of the Global Nitrogen Decline Pursuit team 

SESYNC’s Graduate Program Plugs In but Keeps the Connection Human – The story of how SESYNC’s graduate Pursuit teams have adapted to virtual collaboration 

What We Learned Teaching a Virtual Course This Summer - Lessons learned from the SESYNC data science team's experience teaching our annual Computational Summer Institute virtually



Resources from the Wider Community

General Overviews and Best Practices 

Virtual Conferences: A Guide to Best Practices –  Living document from the Association for Computing Machinery's task force on what conferences can do to replace face-to-face meetings, including appendices with tables comparing features of specific tools and a list with ideas for creating a sense of presence

Best Practices for Virtual Participation in Meetings: Experiences from Synthesis Centers – Article in the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America

Going Virtual! What We Learned from the EFI-RCN Virtual Workshop – Blog post account of a virtual workshop hosted by the Ecological Forecasting Initiative (EFI) Research Coordination Network (RFN) with approximately 150 participants with detailed advice on meeting prep, set up, and using breakout rooms

Useful Resources for Hosting Virtual Events – A collection of resources from WildLabs Virtual Workshop

How to Run a Remote Workshop, Openscapes/Open Leaders Style – Tips for running remote meetings by Julie Lowndes

The Definitive Guide to Facilitating Remote Workshops - An ebook from MURAL on multiple facets of running effective virtual meetings, from dealing with time zone differences to transitioning in-person activities online

E-Conferencing Toolkit – From the University of Alberta, includes advice for choosing an appropriate meeting format based on your needs, as well as technical advice

Effectively Including Online Participants in Onsite Meetings – From the Integration and Implementation Insights blog, focused on integrating mixed in-person/online events

Technical Guides

Zoom Conference Calls Tech Guide – Manual from the organization Showing Up for Racial Justice

Instructions for Using Breakout Rooms in Zoom (and a video introduction)

Strategies for Building Community and Maintaining Engagement

Running Engaging Events on Zoom – Webinar from a WildLabs Virtual Workshop 

How Do You Do All-Remote Meetings Right? – Article from GitLab on optimizing remote meetings, with an emphasis on company/team culture

Online Communities and Communication Tools – Blog posts and guidebooks from the Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement


Accessible Remote Attendance – Best practices compiled by volunteers working to make the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction more accessible 

Accessibility and Universal Design of Online Meetings – Tips from the University of Washington for running fully accessible remote meetings