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Oxford Biochemistry postgrad participates in summit in Singapore

Ronja Woloszczuk, a second year DPhil student with Jane Mellor, was one of only five Oxford students selected to participate in the Global Young Scientists Summit in Singapore in January.

Summit speakers and Turing Award recipients discussing the science behind computing and the application of new computing methods (Photo: National Research Foundation Singapore)

This unique meeting attracts around 300 participants, largely postgraduate students, from some of the best universities across the world. Its purpose is to inspire the younger generation of scientists, through lectures, discussions and workshops with eminent scientists and technology leaders.

Ronja joined four other Oxford students, from the WIMM, Experimental Psychology, Physics and Chemistry, for the 6-day meeting at Nanyang Technology University in Singapore.

She was impressed by the speakers who included Nobel Laureates such as Ada Yonath and Michael Levitt, Fields Medalists, and Millennium Prize and Turing Award winners. A typical day began with lectures from these eminent scientists, followed by panel discussions and small group sessions.

'The programme was very well organised and people were engaged and participated well,' she comments. 'The speakers came along to the lunches and dinners, so we really got to talk to them properly.'

Panel discussion topics included cutting-edge scientific areas and policy issues, as well as topics of global importance such as cybersecurity and solar energy. Ronja found the breadth of subjects very refreshing and inspiring.

'When you go to scientific conferences, you're there to discuss a specific topic. This was very different. Sometimes it's great to take a step back and discuss about where the scientific community wants to go.'

She was also interested to hear from speakers about the practicalities of a life in science.

'Some speakers talked about getting the right balance between family and work, emphasising the importance of family to them. I'm involved in OxFEST [Oxford Females in Engineering, Science and Technology], and it was reassuring to hear that even people at the level of Nobel Laureate have managed to incorporate both into their lives. One thing that was really evident was that all the speakers were passionate about their work'

As part of the Summit, the organisers ran the 'Singapore Challenge 2015', a competition to submit a research proposal addressing an identified national challenge.

This year, participants were offered the chance to put forward a proposal to address the topic of 'Ageing-in-place'. Over 50 proposals were submitted. The winner was a research fellow at MIT who is developing a technology for early detection of abnormal motor decline.

The summit is in its third year and has secured funding for an additional five years. Ronja, who is the first student from the Department to participate, said that she felt that it was a very valuable and interesting experience.

'It was a really good group of people and I learnt a lot about what is being done in other fields. And it was excellent for cultural exchange too, to find out how science and other activities are conducted in other countries.'





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