A meeting of remarkable minds
Press release issued: 27 June 2007
Two Bristol academics will be among 30 early career researchers from across the world of science who will come together this weekend for the first of three innovation Labs being run by NESTA (The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts).
Dr Jeremy O’Brien, Senior Research Fellow in Physics and Electrical Engineering at Bristol University, who is pursuing experimental quantum information science and technology, is one of the academics chosen to take part in this year’s Crucible programme, together with Dr Nathan Zaccai, Research Associate in the Department of Pharmacology.
The Crucible programme is now in its forth year and aims to stimulate innovation by bringing together up-and-coming researchers from different disciplines to develop new ideas and explore the wider potential of their work. Crucible consists of three residential Lab weekends, which are intended to encourage participants to continue to work together on collaborative projects once the programme has completed.
Dr Jeremy O’Brien, commenting on the programme, said: “I am thrilled to be taking part in this year’s Crucible.
“My interests in science extend beyond my specialist area of research. I have a great interest in science policy, and believe that non-specialist scientists have an important role to play.”
The first Lab will focus on science policy and will include a day hosted by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology. During one of the sessions participants will be given the opportunity to probe MPs on science during a question time run with new science think tank, Newton’s Apple.
Participants this year include university-based researchers in as varied subjects as astrophysics and bacterial genomics; industry people from large corporations such as Hewlett-Packard and Proctor & Gamble; and fellows from institutes such as the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and the Macaulay Institute, which carries out land use research.
Crucible 2007 sees social scientists join their science and technology peers on the programme for the first time - a move that NESTA views as essential to tackling the social implication of science and technology. The two groups are very rarely given the opportunity to work together and it is hoped that the groundbreaking collaborations will grow out of their meeting at the Labs.
Helen Gresty, Executive Director of Innovation Programmes at NESTA, said: “The UK’s scientific research is well known as some of the strongest in the world. The group of talented scientists that Crucible has attracted this year is proof of why we hold such a prestigious position. As the social and economic challenges we face become ever more pressing, it is vital that we step outside our comfortable and established ways of working and begin to consider the exciting opportunities that Crucible-style collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas could begin to present.”
Further informationAims of the Crucible programme:
Centred around three themes, the labs will specifically encourage participants to:
- see their own research and roles as scientists in the wider context of society and explore how collaborations in science and technology can address some of science and modern society's big challenges;
- examine the culture of research that exists today, identify in what ways this may limit or hold back innovation, and explore ways to overcome this, with a particular focus on facilitating collaboration across disciplines;
- develop the individual skills and attributes that NESTA has found are characteristic of innovators, namely: self-belief; self-awareness; collaboration, teamwork and communication; and risk-taking.