The second edition of the Commonwealth Science Conference is held in Singapore from 13-16 June, jointly organized by UK’s Royal Society and Singapore’s National Research Foundation. It is attended by over 400 scientists from over 40 states within the Commonwealth, with the majority of the presentations held at the Matrix in Biopolis. There are four main themes for this conference:
- Emerging infectious diseases
- Sustainable cities
- The future of oceans
- Low carbon energy
The first plenary was delivered by the famed statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter, who gave a particularly entertaining talk (with a very serious point) on communicating about science through the media. I believe, especially after the events of the past couple of years, the scientific community in general has recognized the enormous importance of communicating with the public (via old or new media), rather than just with other scientists.
During the first breakout session on emerging infectious diseases, Prof Fiona Hunter (Canada) spoke about mosquito research and Zika, while Prof Oyewale Tomori (Nigeria) presented policy issues with regards to collaborative research in the Commonwealth – primarily questioning whether UK funding and support for other countries in the Commonwealth was declining because of newer partnerships with other European and Asian (non-Commonwealth) countries.
The second breakout session on emerging infectious diseases started off with Prof Anne O’Gara (UK) who presented fascinating data on the immunological signals seen in active pulmonary and latent tuberculosis.
One of the highlights of the conference for me – listening to the talk by Deepmind founder Dr Demis Hassabis at the conference dinner held at Gardens by the Bay. He spoke, of course, about Go and AlphaGo.