A gathering of many briliiant minds at Global Young Scientists Summit

Mr Teo (right) with speakers of the Global Young Scientists Summit 2016, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Professor Jerome Friedman (left), and Turing Award winner, Professor Richard Karp, at the opening ceremony yesterday.
Mr Teo (right) with speakers of the Global Young Scientists Summit 2016, Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Professor Jerome Friedman (left), and Turing Award winner, Professor Richard Karp, at the opening ceremony yesterday. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Global science summit lets young researchers meet, learn from the best

It is a meeting of some of the world's most brilliant minds.

Twenty-one eminent scientists have gathered in Singapore and 270 young researchers from around the globe - top achievers in their own right - have seized the opportunity to pick their brains.

The five-day Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS), which is in its fourth year, is the chance for young scientists aged 35 and below to interact with their research heroes.

 
 

These include Nobel laureates and winners of other prestigious awards, such as the Fields Medal for mathematics, Millennium Technology Prize for ground-breaking innovations and the Turing Award, considered the Nobel equivalent for computing.

Some of the big names in science and technology who are in town this week include Nobel laureate Anthony Leggett, Fields Medallist Cedric Villani and Millennium Technology Prize winner Stuart Parkin.

They will be giving lectures and talks, and holding discussions, both with summit participants and also the public, who can catch them at various venues such as the National University of Singapore, the National Library and the Science Centre Singapore.

Deputy Prime Minister and National Research Foundation chairman Teo Chee Hean welcomed both the summit participants and speakers at an opening ceremony at the Singapore University of Technology and Design yesterday.

"Through the annual Global Young Scientists Summit, we bring together young, promising scientists from around the world to learn from esteemed scientists and technologists, and from each other," said Mr Teo. "We hope that your experiences at the GYSS will inspire you to bloom as scientists, and build new networks and partnerships with the friends that you make in Singapore. "

He further noted that scientific research and development is necessary in enabling Singapore to become a knowledge-based economy, which thrives on innovation and enterprise.

"Investing in R&D is essentially an investment in Singapore's future," he said.

The $19 billion budget set aside for R&D over the next five years will create economic value and jobs for Singaporeans, change lives through science and technology, and allow scientists to collaborate with others all over the world, added Mr Teo.

One of the summit's speakers, Sir Anthony Leggett, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2003 for his work in superfluidity, said that while the amount set aside was "truly impressive", young scientists must also be given free rein to engage in pure curiosity.

"Most major technological advances have their origins in science, which is purely or mainly curiosity driven, so in funding research, it is a mistake to look too closely at the bottom line," he pointed out.

Mr Teo also received a courtesy call from Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who is well-known for her interest in science, and was visiting Singapore for the opening ceremony of the GYSS.

One feature of this year's summit is the Singapore Challenge, where researchers will compete for a cash prize of US$100,000 (S$144,000) and the SG Challenge Medallion for their research ideas and solutions to address challenges faced by global cities.

This year's theme is on "Sustainable and Liveable Cities" and eight projects have been shortlisted for final presentation on the last day, out of a total of 48 proposals.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2016, with the headline 'A gathering of many brilliant minds'. Print Edition | Subscribe