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Filter: The Liffey B


Exoplanets: the search for planets beyond our solar system
    Thursday July 12, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ The Liffey B

    Until recently, the science and technology to detect exoplanets did not exist. However, in the past two decades, astronomers have developed new techniques and instruments that are providing growing observational evidence that our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is rich with planetary systems. Despite the wealth of data on our own solar system, there is no way to directly measure its formation history. Studying other planetary systems provides us with a major opportunity to determine if our solar system is unique or just average, and also to re-examine some of our theories on the formation of planetary systems. This session will introduce the various methods of exoplanet detection and the technology being used and developed (e.g. ground- and space-based telescopes), with a focus on the efforts of Europe's leading scientific nations. Different methods allow us not only to infer an exoplanet’s existence, but its atmospheric composition, pressure and temperature. The question of what we can learn from exoplanet systems will be explored, with separate talks focusing on planetary system formation and the search for biological markers.

    Queen's University Belfast, UK

    University College London, UK

    German Aerospace Centre

    Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford...

    Type Science Programme, Reshaping the Frontiers of Knowledge
    Host Organization The Institute of Physics
  • Organiser Tajinder Panesor
  • Tags SP1


Keynote Address: Eric Karsenti "TARA-OCEANS: A world-wide study of oceanic plankton ecosystems"
    Thursday July 12, 2012 9:30am - 10:30am @ The Liffey B

    Plankton ecosystems are at the root of oceans foodweb, and play a key role in the regulation of our atmosphere’s dynamics and overall earth climate. Yet, their organisation, evolution and dynamics remain poorly understood. The Tara Oceans Project was launched in September 2009 for a 3 year exploration of the world’s ocean plankton ecosystems aboard the ship TARA. This project is collecting and archiving coherent and comprehensive physico-chemical data sets, oceanographic, ecological and biological samples. The sampling has been devised to allow “end to end” quantitative and genomic analysis of organisms from viruses to fish larvae. Starting as a grassroot initiative of a few scientists, the project has grown into a global consortium of over 100 specialists from diverse disciplines, including oceanography, microbial ecology, genomics, molecular and cell biology, taxonomy, bioinformatics and physical modeling. This multidisciplinary community organises and analyses the Tara Oceans project samples and data with the aim of generating coherent, open access data sets, usable for global ecosystems modeling as well as symbiosis, marine life evolution and ocean metabolomics analyses. This project will generate important information and tools to better understand the relationship between environmental changes and ocean life, result in the identification of new functions and genes of importance to human health and energy production. In the seminar I will show how the expedition has been organised, the sampling strategy, the on-land analysis strategy, the types of results that we expect and why this will be important. I will show some initial results using metagenomics concerning the biodiversity of bacterial, viral, protist and metazoan populations and preliminary results on the ecosystems structure to indicate how we will make sense of the large amount of data generated by this expedition.


    Session Chair: Geoffrey O'Sullivan, The Marine Institute, Ireland

    Sunday September 23, 2012 18:00 - 19:00 @ Auditorium...

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN3


Big Science for Small Countries
    Thursday July 12, 2012 10:45am - 12:15pm @ The Liffey B

    This session seeks to examine the benefits to small EU countries like Ireland of establishing Big Science Facilities in terms of scientific and technological output and economic growth, as well as looking at the alternatives for the large investments required.  

    The session will highlight two case studies on “big science” discussing the experiences of Catalonia with the ALBA synchrotron light source and Virginia USA with Jefferson Lab.

    We will also explore the issue from the EU perspective with a view to policies already in place and strategies that could be employed by the smaller EU countries like Ireland to attract such an investment.

    The speakers will each speak for 10 minutes followed by a formal discussion.

    For more information see http://www.bigscienceireland.org/

    President, Transparent Solutions, Canada, Chairman of Tyndall...

    Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany Chair of...

    American Institute of Physics, USA H. F. Dylla is the Executive...

    University of Colorado, USA Prof. Margaret Murnane is a Fellow...

    University of Maryland, USA Professor O’Shea is VP for Research...

    ALBA Synchrotron Executive Commission, Spain Ramon Pascual has...

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA Professor Richard...

    Minister for Research and Innovation, Ireland Appointed Minister...

    Type Science Programme, Policy
  • Organiser Professor Roger Whatmore
  • Tags SP9


Keynote Address: A conversation with James Watson (Nobel laureate)


Africa: A scramble for natural resources or knowledge economy partnerships?
    Thursday July 12, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey B

    Africa is a continent rich in natural resources such as oil, gold, timber, diamonds, platinum, uranium and chrome. It has the potential to feed itself and others but the scramble for Africa's riches has often led to mismanagement, environmental degradation, and in some instances, to conflict. A number of important developments are changing the dynamics related to natural resource management and exploitation in Africa. Among these is the determination of a number of African countries to move from a resource-dependent to a knowledge-based economy, leveraging the potential of science and technology to ensure better management and exploitation of resources. The aim is to explore a few pertinent issues in a manner that will lead to a better understanding of opportunities and challenges to harness S&T cooperation for sustainable development.

    European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Belgium

    BRGM (Office for Geological and Mining Research), France

    Editor-in-chief, Nature, UK

    University of Pretoria

    Executive Director of the Academy of Science of South Africa...

    Type Science Programme, Energy Environment & Climate
    Host Organization South African Department of Science and Technology
  • Organiser Daan Du Toit
  • Tags SP16


Keynote Address: Renée Schroeder "RNA as a key molecule for the origin of Life"
    Thursday July 12, 2012 2:45pm - 3:45pm @ The Liffey B

    RNA molecules display many different functions, from coding mRNAs, catalytic ribozymes to RNAs that regulate gene expression at all levels. I will present our attempts to identify regulatory RNAs that control their own transcription. Using genomic SELEX, we discovered a large number of RNA aptamers in E. coli, yeast and human genomes that function as cis-acting transcriptional silencers.

    Session Chair: Prof. John Atkins, BioSciences Institute, University College Cork

    Group Leader, Max F. Perutz Laboratories, University of Vienna...

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN9


Is science journalism dead or does it just smell funny?
    Thursday July 12, 2012 4:00pm - 5:30pm @ The Liffey B

    This round table debate on the current standing of science journalism includes a panel of experienced journalists, some with decades of specialist involvement in science journalism, and all with strong views and concerns on science journalism. Among the issues affecting the health of science journalism to be considered in this debate are:


    1. Increasing direct communication to the public by scientific bodies that is tending to reduce the need for journalist intermediaries,
    2. Proliferation and diversification of internet news and commentary blurring the distinctions between professional, independent reporting and amateur and partisan coverage,
    3. Growing perception that the routines of established science journalism are worn-out and that science reporting is too vulnerable to claims of 'breakthrough' and 'world-first',
    4. Reduction in specialist staff science journalists due to financial pressures on many media and the restructuring of employment as largely casual, desk-bound and generalist,
    5. Increasing exposure of generalist journalists to topics with important scientific dimensions (e.g. epidemics, pandemics, ash clouds, extreme weather, water stress).

    Irish Science and Technology Journalists Association

    Formicablu, Italy

    President, World Federation of Science Journalists

    P.M./Knowledge Matters magazine, Germany; EUSJA Honorary Sec...

    Type Science Programme, Communicating Science
    Host Organization Irish Science and Technology Journalists Association
  • Organiser Brian Trench
  • Tags SP23



Scientific advice for European policy
    Friday July 13, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ The Liffey B

    Global challenges call for sound scientific advice at the highest level and often at the cutting edge. In 2009 President Barroso announced the creation of the role of an EU Chief Scientist and Professor Anne Glover was appointed to the role in November 2011. An audience, including invited questioners, will ask this experienced panel of scientific advisors and policy-makers to discuss the role of scientific advice for Europe and debate its challenges: what opportunities does the existence of an European Chief Scientist provide for the coordination of scientific advice and improving its effectiveness, in the face of urgent and emerging situations - from flu outbreaks to food safety, and volcanic ash to radiation? How can scientific scrutiny of new legislation be improved? What can member states do to contribute to the evidence base for European policy making? Audience and panellists will set out what the next steps should be.


    Chief Scientific Adviser to the President of the European Commission...

    Permanent Representation of Spain to the European Union, B...

    Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland

    President of the Norwegian Academy of Science and  Letters...

    Chief Science Advisor to the Prime Minister, New Zealand...

    Sense About Science, UK

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization Sense About Science
  • Organiser Leonor Sierra
  • Tags SP28


Soil, land and food security: the challenges for science, economics and policy
    Friday July 13, 2012 10:45am - 12:15pm @ The Liffey B

    Food security depends to a considerable extent on the use of land, water, and soils. The risk for food security due to unsustainable land use and soils is under-researched and under-valued. Food security will remain a problem for the world, increasingly so due to the existing drivers of change on the demand and supply side: increasing world population with changing tastes, increasing demand for biofuel and an increasing purchasing power for resource-intensive food products on one side, decreasing growth in agricultural productivity and decreasing opportunities for further land conversion (to agriculture) on the other side.
    Climate change affects the complex and fragile relationships between drivers and adds further feedback effects, risks and volatility elements to them. The overall impact of these changes is an increasing competition for land. The role of soils in the process of climate change has been under-valued in comparison to other elements of the human-climate relationship, despite the large potential of soils as biological carbon sinks.
    Scientists, economists, and policy analysts must come together to achieve a comprehensive assessment of the costs of soil and land degradation at the global scale.

    International Food Policy Research Institute, USA

    Stanford University, USA

    University of Bonn, Germany

    University of Bonn, Germany

    Ohio State University, USA

    Type Science Programme, Energy Environment & Climate
    Host Organization University of Bonn, Center for Development Research
  • Organiser Joachim von Braun
  • Tags SP35


Keynote Address: Brian Greene "The State of String Theory"
    Friday July 13, 2012 12:15pm - 1:15pm @ The Liffey B

    Professor Greene will review the motivation for string theory and discuss a number of essential developments during its 40 year history. He will then provide a status report in a variety of key areas, from phenomenology and cosmology to mathematics, focusing on issues of dark energy, the string landscape and the multiverse.


    Session Chair: Dr. Jiri Vala, Department of Mathematical Physics, National University of Ireland Maynooth


    With the support of the US Embassy Dublin

    Co-Director of the Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle...

    Type Keynote Address
    Host Organization US Embassy Dublin
    Tags KN13


The European Research Area: translating the aspiration into reality
    Friday July 13, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey B

    The European Commission's 2012 policy Communication on the European Research Area (ERA) should lead to a significant improvement in Europe's research performance to promote growth and job creation. The measures in the Communication will have to be implemented by EU Member States, the Commission and Research Organisations to ensure the completion of ERA by 2014 as called for by the European Council.


    To complete ERA and maximise the return on research investment, Europe must increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its public research system. This requires more cooperation so that the brightest minds work together to make greater impact on grand challenges (e.g. demographic-ageing, energy security, mobility, environmental degradation), and to avoid unnecessary duplication of research and infrastructure investment at national level. It also requires more competition to ensure that the best researchers and research teams receive funding - those able to compete in the increasingly-globalised and competitive research landscape.

    With the explicit objective of opening up and connecting EU research systems, the ERA reform agenda focuses on five key priorities, which will be presented and discussed. They include optimizing Europe-wide research competition and cooperation, the interoperability of national research systems, promoting gender equality, opening the access to scientific knowledge, and opening the labour market for researchers. In other words: removing barriers to the free circulation of researchers and knowledge in Europe.


    • "A Reinforced European Research Area Partnership for Excellence and Growth" (Dr. Octavi Quintana);
    • "Increasing effectiveness of national research systems" (Prof. Stefan Kuhlman);
    • "Co-operating and competing at a European-wide level" (Dr.ir. Elisabeth Monard);
    • "An open labour market for researchers" (Dr. Conor O'Carroll);
    • "Promoting gender equality in research institutions" (Prof. Inés Sánchez de Madariaga);
    • "Optimal circulation and transfer of scientific knowledge" (Dr. Alma Swan).


    Director of European Advocacy, Scholarly Publishing and Academic...

    Research Director, Irish Universities Association

    Secretary-General, the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO), B...

    Head of Women and Science Unit, Secretary of State for Research...

    Director of the European Research Area

    Chair of the Department of Science, Technology, and Policy Studies...

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization European Commission
  • Organiser Mina Stareva; Josefina Enfedaque
  • Tags SP93


Keynote Address: Brian David Johnson "Mechanical ducks, tea-cup robots & Frankenstein’s monster: imagining a new future for computing "


Debating the financial crisis: guessing or modelling?
    Friday July 13, 2012 4:00pm - 5:30pm @ The Liffey B

    This session discusses how science can help even on issues such as the financial crisis. It advocates the use of economic and financial models as valuable tools to gauge the collective impact of the proposed banking regulatory changes, and to ensure the overall consistency and thus efficacy of the complete package of measures.
    Financial models have been too often labelled as ‘bad’ tools, as they are associated with the idea of tools in the hands of speculators. But financial models, in proper hands, become a valuable tool for robust policy making.
    This session will contribute to the debate on the use of models for the reform of the banking system by presenting the point of views of the academic financial modellers, of the European Commission scientists who deploy models for policy impact assessment, and of practitioners from the banking industry.

     Financial Services Compensation Scheme, Lloyds Chambers...

    Joint Research Centre - Institute for the Protection and Security...

    Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium

    Joint Research Centre - Institute for the Protection and Security...

    Type Science Programme, Policy
    Host Organization European Commission - Joint Research Centre
  • Organiser Geraldine Barry
  • Tags SP45



Why is the Universe so massive? The hunt for the Higgs at the LHC
    Saturday July 14, 2012 8:00am - 9:30am @ The Liffey B

    The Large Hadron Collider, the biggest scientific experiment in history, has captured the public imagination as much as it excites the scientists involved. But what is all the fuss about? Why are we so desperate to find the Higgs boson?
    Stephen Myers, the scientist in charge of the massive accelerator rings at CERN, will explain how the LHC creates such colossal energies that it is able to recreate conditions last seen during the Big Bang. He will show how the LHC is furthering our knowledge of the origin of the universe and the ultimate nature of matter.
    A panel of leading scientists will present the latest news and images from the LHC. They will explain how physicists know that they have (or have not?) found the Higgs, and discuss the implications that its (non?) existence has for our understanding of the universe, what are the even more exotic alternatives to the Higgs, and what possible discoveries lie ahead?

    University of Oxford, UK

    CERN, Switzerland

    University of Liverpool, UK

    University College Dublin, Ireland

    Type Science Programme, Reshaping the Frontiers of Knowledge
    Host Organization National University of Ireland Maynooth
  • Organiser Jon-Ivar Skullerud
  • Tags SP56


Keynote Address: Christian Keysers "The empathic brain"
    Saturday July 14, 2012 9:30am - 10:30am @ The Liffey B

    The empathic brain

    Most of us can effortlessly feel what goes on in other people. When we watch the scene in Dr. No where a tarantula walks on James Bond’s chest, we need no conscious deliberation to understand his intentions to kill the spider or to guess what the tingling of the spider’s legs feel like on his chest. Instead, we seem to empathically feel what he goes through. Our hands start sweating and our heart beats faster – as if we were in his stead. Why are we so empathic?In this talk, I will review research that shows that our motor system, normally involved in programing our own actions, becomes automatically activated when we see the actions of others. I will show how our somatosensory system, that normally responds when we are touched, becomes activated when we see the skin of other people be touched. Finally, I will show how regions of the brain involved in experiencing emotions such as disgust, pain and pleasure become activated when we see or read about others experience similar emotions.Together, this data shows why we do not need our intellect to understand other people. Our brain transforms what others do and feel into our own actions and feelings. We then feel what they feel, and intuitively adapt to their actions and emotions. Biology has equipped us with an empathic brain that endows us with an intuitive understanding of others and an intuitive sense of ethics. 

     Short Bio

    Christian Keysers (1973) leads the Social Brain Lab at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience in Amsterdam and is Professor for the Social Brain at the University Medical Center Groningen. Together with his laboratory, he investigates how the brain allows us to understand other individuals. He is French and German, studied Psychology and Biology in Germany and the USA and received his PhD from the University of St. Andrews (Scotland). Thereafter he worked in Parma, Italy, in the group that discovered Mirror Neurons, and lives in the Netherlands since 2004. He wrote a book, ‘The Empathic Brain’, in which he shows how his discoveries change the way we think about social interactions and human nature.  Further Reading: The Empathic Brain by Christian Keysers, available from amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9081829203/


    Session Chair: Prof. Orla Hardiman, Consultant Neurologist, Beaumont Hospital Dublin

    Christian Keysers (1973) leads the Social Brain Lab at the Netherlands...

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN17


Culture lab: the application of science to art and artefacts
    Saturday July 14, 2012 10:45am - 12:15pm @ The Liffey B

    When you mention art or cultural heritage science, most people think about authentication of a priceless masterpiece or identification of a pigment on a Picasso painting. But cultural heritage scientists are doing much more. They're helping to conserve and restore everything from spacesuits to plastic sculptures. They're developing tools to study artworks and artefacts without actually touching them. They're looking through paintings to see initial drawings on the canvas below. They're even getting into the minds of ancient cultures by recreating their recipes for everything from hair dye to incense and then studying the products with modern analytic technology. This panel session will explore the new trends in cultural conservation science as well as guide conference attendees through fascinating recent projects at museums, galleries and archives.

    CNR Institute for Science and Technology, Italy

    University of Glasgow

    University College London, UK

    Louvre Museum, France

    Chemical & Engineering News, Germany

    Type Science Programme, Science & Culture
    Host Organization Chemical & Engineering News
  • Organiser Sarah Everts
  • Tags SP60


Conversations about science: the role of ‘social media’
    Saturday July 14, 2012 1:15pm - 2:45pm @ The Liffey B

    Science blogging has become a significant part of professional and public communication of science in certain sectors. In physics, for example, some discussions about new developments have  been played out in the blogosphere. Bloggers were influential in forcing retraction of the claimed finding that certain bacteria live off arsenic. In climate science, bloggers played a crucial part in the disclosure of the hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at University of East Anglia and in the debates around these documents. Blogs are widely used as add-ons to scientific institutions’ web sites to provide supplementary information on published findings, conferences and other events.


    But blogs and related online media forms also open up possibilities for informal exchanges among scientists and between scientists, communicators and lay publics. At a time when much of the emphasis in public communication of science is on interactivity, dialogue and engagement, this panel explores how ‘social media’ are contributing to this kind of exchange. It asks what role ‘social media’ play in facilitating and promoting conversations about science that are open and inclusive.


    The panellists are scientists and bloggers:

    Ulrike Brandt-Bohne (Germany) blogs with her husband and fellow-scientist Felix Bohne at Science Meets Society and has been publishing a series of scientists’ self-written profiles Under the banner, A Scientist A Day; Martin Robbins (UK) blogs as The Lay Scientist and often stimulates many and strong comments with his observations on issues in science; Bora Zivkovic (USA, though Serbian-born) writes A Blog Around The Clock, is chief editor of the Scientific American blog network and a committed advocate of the large potential of blogs in science communication.


    The panel’s moderator / organiser is Brian Trench (Ireland), a lecturer and researcher in science communication, who recently published ‘Scientists’ blogs: glimpses behind the scenes’ in the Sociology of the Sciences Yearbook.


    Irish Science and Technology Journalists Association

    Blogs Editor at Scientific American, blogger, organizer of ScienceOnline...

    Technische Universität München, Germany

    The Lay Scientist, Guardian Science Blogs, UK

    Biologist, Scientific journalist, moderator, reporter, Germa...

    Type Science Programme, Communicating Science
    Host Organization ESOF2012
  • Organiser Ellen Byrne; Brian Trench
  • Tags SP94



Keynote Address: Jocelyn Bell Burnell "We are made of star stuff"
    Sunday July 15, 2012 9:30am - 10:30am @ The Liffey B

    Is there really star dust in our veins? Where did the atoms in our bodies come from originally and how did they get to be here? What has the birth, death and life of stars to do with us?

    This talk will answer these and similar questions and show how we are made of star stuff.


    Session Chair: Prof. Luke Drury, President of the Royal Irish Academy

    Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford...

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN24


Mathematics you can hear
    Sunday July 15, 2012 12:15pm - 1:15pm @ The Liffey B

    There are many interesting connections between mathematics and music, and in this lecture some of these connections will be explored. For example, it is not widely known that our European musical scales are built up by using mathematical principles. There are many hidden symmetries in all kinds of music and many modern composers employ mathematical ideas in their compositions.
    How 'simple' sounds are used to construct almost arbitrary ones is discussed. This 'Fourier analysis' is of great importance in many applied sciences. The most complex part of our talk will be the discussion of a rather recent mathematical problem; 'Can you hear the shape of a drum?' The question is whether or not it is possible to deduce the shape of a plane figure by merely listening to the sounds it can produce.

    Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

    Open University, Oxford, UK

    Type Science Programme, Science & Culture
    Host Organization Freie Universität Berlin
  • Organiser Ehrhard Behrends
  • Tags SP85


Keynote Address: Lars Steinmetz "The road from genomics to personalised medicine"
    Sunday July 15, 2012 2:45pm - 3:45pm @ The Liffey B

    Genomics has already begun to foster a more personalised, predictive and preventive medicine. In particular, the rapid increases in high-throughput sequencing and our ability to interrogate numerous molecular mechanisms at a genome-wide scale has informed the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of genetic diseases. In my presentation, I will demonstrate how work in my laboratory bridges diverse domains of genome science, from research aimed at gaining a fundamental understanding of the structure and function of genomes, to the application of these insights towards improving our understanding of diseases and advancing the effectiveness of treatments. We use multiple model organisms as platforms for developing technologies that enable us to dissect the genetics underlying complex traits, aiming at a systematic understanding of the molecular events that lead from genotype to phenotype. We work extensively on functional and mechanistic characterisations of transcription, the first manifestation of genetic variation; in addition, we study multiple diseases in model systems in order to profile the underlying networks and predict effective therapeutic strategies. Our overall goal is to establish approaches and discover biological principles that will enable the prediction and prevention of genetic diseases.


    Session Chair: Dr. Aoife McLysaght, Smurfit Institute of Genetics, Trinity College Dublin

    Joint Head of Unit and Senior Scientist, European Molecular Biology...

    Type Keynote Address
    Tags KN25


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