Welcome to the 2021 BIOME Institute! We are thrilled with the mosaic of STEM educators who are participating and can't wait to see what this year's BIOME Fellows will accomplish! This document contains a set of guidelines to help you make the most of your BIOME experience and create a welcoming, inclusive experience for everyone. 

This guide is supplemental to the Community Standards, which outline broader expectations for behavior at any BioQUEST & QUBES event. Do you have suggestions? Post them in the forum!

Community Norms

Be Present

What does this mean?

"Being present" means something different to everyone. What we are asking is that you are as present as possible during synchronous sessions. If you are able, please turn your video on. This is helpful in putting faces to names and cultivating a sense of community. Using "hide self view" can help with Zoom fatigue. 

What are your default communication settings?

The BIOME Institute is designed to be a welcoming community where we can all engage and collaborate, even at a distance. Many of us have spent the last year on Zoom, developing specific communication habits, or "default settings." 

Reflect on your own experiences: have you been in instructor mode all year? Or facilitating meetings with colleagues? Had the urge to "mute all" when on family Zooms? These relate to your general communication habits too - when someone poses a question do your prefer to jump right and think out loud in or sit back and process internally? There is no right or wrong here, but we encourage you to be mindful of your defaults and ensure that the BIOME is welcoming for everyone. 

Communication & Turn Taking

In all Zoom sessions, you are welcome to communicate in the way that is most comfortable to you. You can share your thoughts verbally or post them to the chat. In each session there will be designated social facilitators to monitor the chat and interject to address comments. This helps place equal value on verbal and written communications. 

Turn Taking

All BIOME participants have great ideas and we want to ensure everyone gets the chance to share. In Zoom, only one person can effectively speak at a time, so it is important not to talk over each other. Here are some tips: 

  • When you are not actively taking a turn, please mute your microphone. 
  • In large sessions (keynotes and workshops), indicate that you would like a turn either by using the Zoom reactions to raise your hand or in the chat. A social facilitator will call on you. 
  • In smaller sessions, use your best judgement to ensure that everyone gets to share. 
  • When you start your turn, begin by stating your first name 
    • This helps everyone know who is speaking, especially in large groups, and it's very helpful to hear someone pronounce their own name. 
    • You could say, "This is [name]" or "Hi [name] here" or any other variation that works for you.

Making the Most of Synchronous Sessions

We recognize that not everyone at the BIOME Institute has participated in online professional development, and may not know what to expect from synchronous sessions in Zoom. Therefore, we have adapted SABER's 2021 Annual Conference "etiquette guide" to discuss some suggestions for synchronous sessions. of the do’s and don’ts of synchronous poster sessions

Flipped Sessions

Why are sessions flipped?

The majority of synchronous sessions are flipped, meaning that there are short activities to complete before attending the live session. These activities are meant to provide everyone with important background information, complete technical tasks (like software setup) before the session, and set you up for more productive time with your colleagues. 

What does this mean for me?

Keynotes, workshops, Posters & Beyond, and WIPs will all have pre-session assignments that you should complete before attending. Specifically for Posters & WIPs, be sure to review the materials before attending the synchronous session during a Community Hour. Our online format is a great benefit here - you can review the material on your own and dive into discussions with presenters right away!

Leverage asynchronous discussions

Even better, get these discussions started asynchronously. Posters are all published as QUBES resources which have a commenting feature. After reviewing the materials, feel free to post your comment or question to the resource. This is also a great way to engage with poster presenters who's synchronous sessions you cannot attend. 

For keynotes, workshops, and WIPs - there will be discussion forums set up for each session. Feel free to post your thoughts or questions in the appropriate thread.

During Smaller Sessions

Remember to refer to the Community Norms in all sessions. For smaller sessions that will meet during Community Hours, like Posters & Beyond and WIPs, we have some specific suggestions:

  • If possible, review the presenter's materials before attending. 
  • Be mindful of how many other participants are in the session with you to ensure everyone gets to ask a few questions. 
  • Feel comfortable asking the presenter to screen-share parts of their poster, materials, or resources for clarity when you are asking questions.
  • It is especially helpful to turn your video on in these smaller groups. This makes the session feel more interactive for everyone!
  • Utilize the chat feature in Zoom to say good-bye and thank you when you need to leave the breakout room. We understand that Zoom exits can be awkward, so using the chat feature allows you to leave the room in a polite way if you need to attend other posters or leave the session!
  • If you have any logistical questions, concerns, or would like to take a turn and aren't seeing an opportunity, reach out to the social facilitator! You can always chat them individually too. They are there to support you

Don't take our word for it!

Last year, we asked the first BIOME Institute Fellows what advice they would give to a first-time attendee: 

Come with a plan

"Everyone is very helpful and wants to learn from you as much as they want to help you learn. I think the BIOME institute is also most helpful if you have a course in mind that you are developing or want to improve, so that you can immediately start to draft those improvements during the institute."

"Map out your BIOME time commitment to engage activities and incorporate into your teaching for both the summer institute and fall activities, you need to really lean in to get the most out of the experience."

Put in the time

"Make sure you are ready to commit the time to the working group. It's great, but definitely time-consuming."

"Make an effort to participate in most of the sessions. Read about topics of interest and make sure to reach out to people with similar interests or are experts in those topics."


"[It's] important to establish social relationships even if the institute is on-line. I'm very happy that I reached out to some other members at the beginning of the institute; this led to a totally separate collaboration."

"Make sure to attend the informal discussions as they can benefit you as much as the prepared workshops."

And most importantly, don't worry!

From a first-time participant, "Don't worry if you fear you won't have enough time to fully participate! The people organizing and participating in the BIOME Institute were varied in many ways, but everyone was extremely welcoming. The institute was designed for participants with demanding schedules - there was a lot to be gained from meeting regularly with others struggling with the same challenges."

"Be willing to stretch and attend at least a few posters/sessions that are outside your immediate comfort zone. You might be surprised by the connections you end up discovering. At the same time, don't try to attend everything. The info overload would be overwhelming."