Matt began the conference as a way for the analytical chemistry community to share their research with one another, and it rapidly expanded to include all areas of chemistry. Now in its fourth year, the conference offers first and second prizes in 10 topic areas, which include education and engineering, along with eight chemistry-specific categories.
An audience of thousands
Matt explains that the conference’s unique format opens up possibilities that would be impossible at a conventional conference.
"People can engage with the conference without travelling to it", he says, "so you end up with an audience of thousands. Last year we had 1,523 contributors, 5,556 tweets, and an audience of 2.6 million individuals."
"You also see a greater range of chemistry going on that you wouldn’t normally think to engage with. For example last year I really enjoyed the education theme – I wouldn’t normally go to an education conference, as it’s not directly linked to my research, but as a university lecturer there was a lot I was able to learn from it."
Public discussion of science
Matt emphasises that it’s not just about the posters and the judging, but about conversations happening between fellow scientists.
"I want to enhance the discussion of science in a public forum," says Matt, "Over the last few years we’ve developed the conference into more of a discussion, as opposed to just a display of science. We have very active chairs of each theme, and it's the job of the chair to ensure that lots of conversation and discussion goes on. Most people get at least a few questions on their poster.
"It’s good fun and you get to see a lot of things. I basically spend my whole day from when I get up to when I go to bed on Twitter."
Hannah Aitchison, development editor at the Royal Society of Chemistry, adds : "It’s been really fantastic to be involved in the organisation of such a unique event. Social media offers a huge opportunity for science communication that’s accessible to everyone and this Twitter Poster Conference is a great example of that.
"We’re also really grateful to our scientific committee - they have been brilliant and their hard work and support is absolutely vital to the success of the event."
Join the conference
Being on Twitter, the conference is of course completely free to attend, you can attend it from anywhere, and you can get as involved as you want to.
It’s not too late to create a poster, and entering the competition is simple. You simply need to tweet an image on the day, using #RSCPoster and the appropriate hashtag for your topic. Find the full list of hashtags, and full instructions for taking part, on the conference's blog page.
Please note that to be considered for a prize you do need to register. Registration is simple and details of how to do so can be found at the link above.
Whether or not you submit a poster be sure to follow #RSCPoster between 9 am GMT on 6 March and 9 am GMT on 7 March to get involved in the conversation.