SOFI’s twice-monthly virtual seminars are a place for global collaboration in an informal setting, where exchanging ideas and going deep into details is the goal.

The seminars regularly draw an international audience, with participants from France and the Netherlands, as well as U.S. universities, such as Rutgers, UNC, Cal Tech, Arizona State, and Northwestern. “This was born out of a desire to disseminate more information more quickly, and more globally,” said Dick Co, SOFI’s co-managing director. SOFI is taking the best of conferences – the discussions, interactions, and questions that deepen knowledge and influence research – and updating it for a global, interconnected world. Using software developed at Cal Tech, the sessions allow simultaneous videoconferencing and slide sharing with multiple participants.

Each week is focused on one specific topic so participants can dive deep, discussing details which researchers might never get at a conference, Co explains, such as microscope setup. SOFI works with the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis on these seminars, each group bringing in speakers every other week. It’s all part of SOFI’s mission to push solar fuels research into a new age, Co says, and transform academic labs to interface with the modern world.