Diversity is key to expanding frontiers of future science, says renowned space scientist at ECETOC 40th anniversary celebration

The key to expanding the frontiers of future science is ‘gender diversity’ and inspiring the younger generation, according to one of Europe’s leading space scientists, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

Speaking at the 40th anniversary celebration of ECETOC at the Bibliothèque Solvay in Brussels, 21st March 2018, Dr Aderin-Pocock said: “We need to find ways to inspire the next generation to be passionate about science, especially young girls, through positive role models and by communicating the ‘worlds of wonder’ that science reveals.”

Dr Aderin-Pocock continued: “Science today is not very attractive to the next generation. Unless we change that – and fast – we run the risk of scientific progress slowing down in the future.”

Founded in 1978, ECETOC has been a champion of scientific excellence and science-based decision-making in Europe. For the past four decades, it has provided a forum for top scientists from academia, government and industry to work together to develop and promote practical and realistic science-based solutions.

ECETOC Secretary General Olivier De Matos said: “To solve the ever more complex challenges facing the world today, scientists need to find new ways of working together in an open and collaborative environment, with colleagues from both the public and private sectors.

He continued: “We need to tear down the walls and silos that can often limit scientific progress. Instead, we must gather together the very best scientists from academia, government and industry to work together, as well as ensuring that in these collaborations there is a mix of scientific wisdom and experience coupled with youth and fresh thinking. This diversity is the best way to ensure that the frontiers of future science continue to expand.”

The venue for ECETOC’s 40th anniversary celebration could not be more evocative: the Bibliothèque Solvay is the historic home of scientific excellence in Brussels. Established in 1902 by the renowned chemist and entrepreneur, Ernest Solvay, this sociology institute regularly hosted scientists from around the world, who came to share their thoughts and ideas.

For 20 years, the Bibliothèque Solvay played host to the famous Solvay Conferences, whose participants included luminaries and Nobel Prize winners Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Henri Poincaré, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Max Born, Erwin Schrödinger and Albert Einstein.