Martin Grace has been a busy guy.
He’s the Harry Cochran Professor in Risk, Insurance and Healthcare Management at the Fox School of Business and has spent the past year as president of the American Risk and Insurance Association (ARIA). Every five years, ARIA hosts the World Risk and Insurance Economics Conference in New York City, an event that includes professional organizations from the U.S., Europe and Asia.
COVID-19 had different plans, forcing Grace and his ARIA board of directors to react to the virus’ impact.
In lieu of the normal in-person gathering, ARIA hosted a virtual conference in August. This is the path many groups have taken to combat the unfortunate disturbances to normal plans, but ARIA and Grace incorporated new elements into the conference, including the Three Minute Thesis (3MT).
The 3MT, which originated at the University of Queensland, is a type of presentation that has risen in popularity in recent years due to the speed in which it can summarize large research presentations. The Fox School first instituted the 3MT format to doctoral students’ research presentations in 2019, and the school’s Translational Research Center has started to support researchers who want to record their own 3MTs.
It turns out that 3MTs also work perfectly for a virtual conference.
“Luckily, it went well,” Grace says. “I think it went well because, when I was younger, I was a technology aficionado. I had my own website before anyone else. I knew how to do and think about things online. It’s not that I’m that technical now, but I knew we could do stuff. I said, ‘If we could get Dropbox and Vimeo, get somebody to make a website, we could do it.’ We got everyone who was coming to the meeting to provide two videos in a 3MT format along with their typical academic presentations.”
The conference was also held right before the fall 2020 semester began. In planning the event, Grace built off the online teaching experience he gained in the spring when Temple pivoted online due to the pandemic.
“You have to learn a bunch of new behaviors, and it’s not clear what they are yet,” he says. “But we’re all experiencing this new digital world together, and we’re all learning together, too. That’s true for both my students and the attendees of the ARIA Conference.”
Grace, who graduated from the University of Florida with a law degree in 1986 and PhD in 1987, began teaching at Temple University in 2017 after a 29-year career with Georgia State University. He says that his experience at Fox has been one of organization and work ethic.
“There’s a lot of activity going on here at the Risk, Insurance and Health Management Department at Fox, and a lot of it is due to the department’s leadership making this a hub of risk and insurance research, teaching and job placement,” he says.
All through that time, he had been working his way to his year spent as ARIA’s president.
Grace says the conference was a complete success. The 3MTs were a hit and the normal research presentations were well received, too. Everything was archived online, allowing researchers and event-goers to access videos at their leisure.
“We’ve never had this stuff available online before,” Grace says. “People are going to want it going forward! I heard from a number of people who thought it wouldn’t be as enjoyable as an in-person meeting that it was way better than they thought it would be.”
Grace continues, laughing. “They had such low expectations, that they were happy!”
Next year’s American Risk and Insurance Association Annual Meeting is scheduled to be held in person in Denver, Colo. on Aug. 1.