Scientists Dating Forum, building a future think-tank for science, politics, economics and society issues

Salva (left) and Yoran are involved in an ambitious project to strengthen the connection between science, economy, politics and society

 

The youngest and most restless scientists often keep themselves busy with projects outside their labs. One such project is the "Scientists Dating Forum," which has attracted the interest of several PhD students at IRB Barcelona.

In vivo met Yoran Beldengrün, a Swiss PhD student at the Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia – CSIC, who is behind the initiative in which more than 50 people—including scientists, journalists, artists, and entrepreneurs—have been actively involved since the beginning of the year.

“I noticed that many people were interested in themes at the intersection of science, society, economy and politics,” he explains. “Many young colleagues are not as well informed as they could be on these issues, so the idea was to start thinking about a series of activities that could foster discussion.” In recent months the Forum has designed conferences to educate and mobilise scientists, including topics such as Who said business was none of your business? and How democratic should science be?.

“We call them SciDF@Bars events because we hold them in a relaxed environment, inviting interesting speakers,” says Yoran. “Our idea is to promote a debate with round tables and case studies to discuss.”

But these events seek to go beyond informal discussions at a bar. The next step is to be able to give workshops in scientific institutions, such as IRB Barcelona. “At our events in bars, we are preaching to the converted in a sense,” says Yoran. “Our real goal is to involve people who think they are not interested, and to do that we need to go and talk to them in their workplaces.”

The final objective would be to set up a big Forum, with conferences, round tables, workshops, science shows, and networking. It would be a transversal event, directed at scientists, entrepreneurs and policy makers. “We are working on it. But we need resources and people,” concludes Yoran. “My long-term objective, besides organising the conference, is to create a think-tank, have an impact, and be able to provide counselling on these themes.”

IRB Barcelona students enthusiastically responded to Yoran’s call to action a few months ago.

PhD student Salva Guardiola, who coordinates the working group on workshops for the Scientists Dating Forum, explains that he got involved because “there is a need for the scientific community to have a louder say in society, politics and economy.” “Personally, I am mostly interested in how science survives during crises, especially in all themes related to health and drugs, due to my pharmacy background.” His objective, he says, is “to get the scientific community more involved and get it to exert more political and social pressure.”