presentationposted on 15.09.2017 by Naomi Penfold
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Presentation given as panel chair at Science Disrupt London Session, September 14, 2017; the theme was 'science 2.0'. This talk was the intro to a panel of three speakers:
- Martin Jones, Francis Crick Institute (citizen science with Etch-a-cell; developing microscopy equipment to meet research demands)
- Johannes Solzbach, Clustermarket (sharing economy applied to science equipment and space; helping young science startups to develop without VC investment)
- Thomas Meany, Cell-free Technology (breaking cell biology out of the cell; applying biological processes as an engineer, for art and beyond)
Intended transcript for presentation:
Science - the thirst for knowledge and discovery, to understand the world and improve our situation in it. Essentially, science is a problem-solving exercise. In all arenas, to solve problems well, it helps to invite a diverse range of perspectives to the table. For example, a UK-based researcher seeking to find a preventive or therapeutic intervention for a tropical disease can gain better insight when they collaborate with citizens and researchers who live in the locale with high incidence of that disease - it's just common sense.
It is also important that research conducted for society's benefit includes and is accountable to society. Several developments in science have long-lasting impact on society, and require responsible discussion concerning the ethics and impact of these advances. In recent years, with the invention of CRISPR, it has become dramatically easier to alter genetic information. To realise the benefits, and mitigate the risks, we need to engage with all parts of society. It is difficult to enact citizen oversight of science without informed citizens - so allowing the non-expert into science helps to inform, educate and engage in a way that is beneficial to all.
Science is traditionally conducted behind closed doors. That door may be a paywall, limiting access to written knowledge, or it may be obscurity of or lack of sufficient information to understand the research. I'm here representing eLife - a mission-driven not-for-profit organisation funded by research funders to accelerate discovery in the life sciences. One way we improve the transparency of the process is by operating a fully open-access journal for biologists to share their findings openly. We also support open-source development of technologies for research communication. We think open source is important not least because it enables developments to be community-governed and for features to be user-driven.
Another door between the citizen and science may be education - to become an academic researcher requires the privilege of an involved education to PhD level and beyond. That route is not be possible for everyone, and it may not be necessary for someone to contribute - as we'll hear from Martin [Jones, see Etch-a-Cell].
A third door is cost. Whether academic or citizen, conducting research requires access to expensive equipment and resources, for which finding the funding can be a struggle. But there are ways to make research more efficient, more cost-effective, and to lower the barrier of cost so that more people can engage in research and development for the benefit of society - as I believe Johannes [Solzbach, Clustermarket] and Thomas [Meany, Cell-free Tech] will share with us.
So without further ado, let's hear from our speakers about how they are working to make science more inclusive.