Fostering exchange between Nobel Laureates and young scientists

by Dr Carlo Bruno

Photo: Carlo on board a zeppelin along with Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath and meeting attendees.

I had the privilege of being selected to participate in the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany, together with 39 Nobel laureates in Physics and Chemistry and outstanding young scientists from 89 countries around the world.

The aim of this event was to foster exchange among scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines.

The meeting, which took off on 29 June, was opened by an impassionate keynote address by Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt urging the scientists in the audience to be as open as possible with their data, ideas and research, and to aim to make a difference in the world. The same theme also dominated the closing panel of the conference “How Can Science Change the World for the Better?” held a week later on Mainau Island, on Lake Constance (Germany). Nobel Laureate Steven Chu, former Secretary of Energy under US president Barak Obama, asked all scientists in the audience to consider getting involved in politics, for short time periods, to promote scientific thinking and the scientific method amongst decision-makers.

In addition to this broader discussion about the role of Science in society, the meeting had a large number of outstanding traditional lectures, as well as open discussions, panels, science breakfasts, science walks, social evenings, all with the aim of fostering communication between Nobel Laureates and young scientists. All talks were recorded and are available online.

Amongst the many excellent talks, I would suggest:

My personal highlight of this exciting week was a flight on a zeppelin, one of the only six that exist in the world, together with seven young scientists and Nobel Laureate A. Yonath. The flight was kindly offered by the German Helmholz-Zentrum Geesthacht who use the zeppelin to detect and study vortices and eddies to further out understanding of oceanography.

Celebrating diversity in the city

Photo from Pride Edinburgh 2019

“This was my first Pride. I’m surprised at how wholesome it felt. I had a really great time.” SoPA PhD student.

Thousands of people, including students and staff from the School of Physics and Astronomy, attended the Pride Edinburgh march on Saturday.

This march provides a platform for politicians, community activists, and most importantly individuals to march through the streets of Edinburgh to celebrate diversity and personal identity. The march set off from outside the Scottish Parliament and continued to Bristo Square which was the setting for live music performances, community events and information stands.  The theme for this year’s event was ‘This is Me’ – an opportunity for everybody to celebrate their own identity.

PhD student Eoin, who organises the School’s monthly social event for staff, PhD students and allies reported: “Pride Scotia was a wonderful celebration of the queer community in Edinburgh. From the parade along the Mile to the celebration at Bristo Square and Teviot, so many aspects of the community were to be seen. I would definitely attend this event again next year.”

Pride marches have taken place in Scotland since 1995, initially alternating between Glasgow and Edinburgh, with annual marches taking place in Edinburgh since 2003.

This month sees the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.  The fusion of social and political movements and routine police raids on gay bars in 1960s US fuelled tensions within LGBT+ communities.  The riots at the Stonewall Inn in 1969 are seen as the galvanising force for LGBT+ activism, leading to the annual worldwide Pride events we see today.

Find out more about networks for students and staff by visiting PrideSoc, the Staff Pride Network or join the School’s EqualiTea meet up at 1pm on the second Wednesday of every month at the XY Café.

Edinburgh Award recipients honoured in recognition for their extra-curricular activities

Well done to the 15 School of Physics and Astronomy Students who received an Edinburgh Award at a ceremony in April.

The Edinburgh Award

The Edinburgh Award recognises the non-academic University activities, such as volunteering work, community activities or part time work, which some students take part in. The Award encourages students to reflect on and develop the skills gained through taking part in such activities.  One of the important aspects of the Award is the opportunity for students to articulate what they have gained from such activities – a skill which will be of advantage when communicating with potential employers.

The School’s Edinburgh Award recipients had contributed to the School’s Physics Outreach Team or the Maths Buddies scheme.

Physics Outreach

The Physics Outreach Team work to engage the wider community in physics and science through the delivery of educational activities. Students delivered activities at events such as the Festival of Physics, and at various venues in the city. Students also planned and organised their own activities, including a weekly science club in a local primary and high school, and an astronomy science event at Craigmillar Community Science Festival.

Physics Outreach Team award recipients are:

  • Cameron Johnston
  • Cristina Cortes-Salas
  • Fedra Antoniadou
  • Harry Carstairs
  • Matthew Parkes

Maths Buddies

The Maths Buddies scheme enables senior students to provide support and guidance to more junior students with regards to their mathematical physics course material. During sessions, junior students complete maths assignments in the company of peers, get support on course-related questions and coordinate with likeminded people who enjoy solving maths challenges. Buddies also provide guidance and answers to questions posed online.

Maths Buddies award recipients are:

  • Michael Brown
  • Sara Evers
  • Eirik Moen Liane
  • Panayiotis Panayiotou
  • Simona Prokopovic
  • Lucie Scharre
  • Frederik Madsen
  • Konstantinos Vlamis
  • Karolina Wamsler
  • Kyriacos Xanthos

Learn more

The Edinburgh Award 

Physics Outreach Team contact:  Dr Jean-Christophe Denis

Maths Buddies contact: Dr Kristel Torokoff