Braindate - A New Way to Network

Finding a new way to share with colleagues and network in virtual conferences.

Networking is a challenge for many of us. How do you find people who want to discuss the same topics as you or connect with mentors/mentees? In our situation where everything has gone virtual, that is even more of a challenge; the last few minutes of a talk have been the only chance for Q&A and discussion; there are no coffee breaks or receptions where you can have a quick discussion.

To help answer the call of our community to provide more networking opportunities, the OSA Foundation is introducing braindates.


What is a braindate?

Braindates are one-on-one or small group conversations and knowledge sharing meetings based on topics of your choosing. They are offered by other participants through an app-driven scheduler designed to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and mentoring at events.

Donna_Braindate_image.pngYou post a topic at a day/time convenient to you and others self-select and request to join you for a conversation. If you accept the request, they’re an effective way to connect with, learn from, and have conversations with your colleagues, students, mentors as well as to make new connections—all virtually for now. 

Throughout the process from booking a braindate to the actual meeting you will have access to a dedicated staffer called a Learning Concierge available via chat to assist you and you can find support from the OSA Foundation at 


Meet the new braindate platform:

For the OSA Imaging and Applied Optics | Optical Sensors and Sensing Congress and Advanced Photonics, the braindate platform is available to all presenting authors and invited speakers. OSA Student Members and volunteers on the committees for the topical meetings for the Imaging and Sensing Congresses are also able to request a profile through this short form once they have registered for the event.

For OSA Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science DLS, we are determining eligibility requirements.


How does a braindate work?

Participants create professional profiles highlighting their interests and expertise via short narratives or key words. Once a profile is complete, participants can choose to host or participate in two types of braindates:

  • One-on-one: Post topics of interest, and other participants can request to participate and offer their availability. Once a request is accepted by the host, at the scheduled time, the attendees join one another in a room for a 30-minute discussion directly from
  • Group braindate: Post topics of interest and select a time/date for a first-come, first-served discussion of up to five people. At the time of the event, the host and all participants login to to begin the conversation.

Christian_Braindate.pngThere is also this very easy to watch two-minute video on what a virtual braindate is.


*The OSAF Braindate program is currently available only to presenting authors and invited speakers through as a pilot program for OSA Imaging and Applied Optics | Optical Sensors and Sensing Congresses and OSA Advanced Photonics Congress. OSA Student Members and committee members are able to request access through a form after they have registered for the conference. For questions, please contact