Sydney professor represents Australia at international science forum

18 October 2010

Selected as one of the most outstanding young scientists under the age of 40 by an international panel, Professor Ben Eggleton, from the School of Physics, represented Australia at the Science and Technology in Society forum in Kyoto, Japan.

Professor Eggleton was one of only ten young scientists from around the world chosen by the New York Academy of Sciences to present at the three-day forum in Kyoto, held from 3 to 5 October 2010.

The Science and Technology in Society forum, held annually, brings together key players in the academic, scientific, political and business arenas to discuss the promises and risks of science and technology, and how they impact on society.

"Being part of the Science and Technology in Society forum in Kyoto was an amazing experience," said Professor Eggleton.

"There were over 1000 attendees, with strong representation from Australia, including Professor Penny Sackett, Chief Scientist for Australia; Dr Megan Clark, CEO of CSIRO; Professor Robin Batterham, President of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering; and Dr David Skellern, CEO of National ICT Australia."

"This was a truly inspiring, wonderful and humbling event, held at the same venue where the Kyoto treaty was signed. It certainly gives you a different perspective on some of the most compelling issues facing humanity in the 21st century," explained Professor Eggleton.

Over 100 countries were represented at the 2010 Science and Technology in Society forum in 2010.

"There were so many awe-inspiring people at the forum including about 20 Nobel Prize winners, Ministers of Science from many countries, CEOs of major companies, Chief Scientists, and Presidents of major universities," said Professor Eggleton.

Professor Eggleton, and the other nine young scientists selected, spoke at the Perspectives from Young Scientists on Science and Technology in Society session, held on the second day of the forum.

The group discussed issues such as mentoring for early career researchers, attracting more females into a career in science, the importance of international experience for young scientists, the differences in scientific cultures around the world and the difficulties for couples who are both pursuing scientific careers. Professor Eggleton focussed on the international nature of research and the importance of mobility of early career researchers.

A wide range of delegates, including a Nobel Laureate, joined this lively session focused on how to support young scientists in their ambitions. The points presented in the Perspectives from Young Scientists on Science and Technology in Society session, were summarised and presented in the final plenary session of the meeting in front of 1000 people.

The other nine young scientists selected came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA; Imperial College London, UK; Tohoku University, Japan; University of Johannesburg, South Africa; California Institute of Technology, USA; Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador, Ecuador; Politecnico di Torino, Italy; National Institute for Environmental Studies, Japan; and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. Outside of the young scientists session, Professor Eggleton participated in the discussions on Business and social transformation enabled by ICT and New developments of ICT.

"Australia's National Broadband Network was very relevant in these discussions and the participants were very interested in learning about our plans," said Professor Eggleton.

With nine plenary sessions and 21 concurrent sessions to choose from, the Science and Technology in Society forum tackled topics including health and disease, poverty, clean water, energy, climate change, the environment, aging population, security and ICT.

"The standout session for me was the plenary presentation which included presentations from many African countries, talking about how science impacts on issues such as clean water, access to modern medicines and basic communications infrastructure," said Professor Eggleton.

"I sincerely thank the University of Sydney for nominating me for this honour, the New York Academy of Sciences for selecting me and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for organising the young scientists session and covering my travel costs. It was a stimulating and enjoyable opportunity for me."

Contact: Rachel Gleeson

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