InterSci is a new project founded by four postgraduate students at the University of Edinburgh in 2017. Amelia Hallas Potts, Diana Sá da Bandeira, Bonnie Nicholson and Alina Gukova had known each other from a different project, but they decided to start a project that was more in line with their personal interests. Ana Rondelli, a fellow postgraduate student at Edinburgh, recently joined the team as the events manager. “We had several meetings brainstorming our ideas, but it was pretty clear that we were all passionate about making science accessible to non-specialists”, explains Bonnie Nicholson, the head of communications.
Their vision for InterSci is to foster communication and collaboration across disciplines and with the public. In an age where science degrees are becoming more specialized than ever, it is easy for scientists to get wrapped up in their own specific area and forget that other disciplines exist. Amelia Hallas-Potts, president of InterSci, remembers her undergraduate degree, “I loved my dissertation project but I felt I could only answer one question and was missing out on all the other sciences.” Since then, Amelia has gone on to do an interdisciplinary Ph.D. project, developing a microscope to visualise how cancer spreads around the body. She believes that working on this project has made her think about her own research in a much more open way. “It allows me to ask questions I would not even have known existed.”
InterSci believes that cross-talk between disciplines is crucial to promote innovation. “As we face more complex challenges, we need to draw expertise from different areas, have our views challenged, and promote collaboration between the fields”, says Ana Rondelli.
Although the vision for InterSci is now established, it is still a growing project, with new people joining and events being developed. On Monday, 2nd October 2017, the first ‘Ask A Scientist’ night will take place downstairs in The Argyle Bar and Cellar Monkey. This event with two scientist speakers is part of a weekly series, aiming to bridge the gap between the different scientific disciplines and the public. With their project and events, they want to provide a time and space where people from different disciplines and campuses around Edinburgh can meet. “As a Scientist, it is easy to get stuck in your bubble and not consider the patient’s, public or other scientists that could all contribute towards your project”, explains Amelia.
Furthermore, the team hopes to break down some of the translational problems so that non-specialists can learn about different fields. It is easy to miss out on amazing science going on around you as a member of the public because of numerous barriers such as the jargon used and the stereotypes of scientists. The team hopes to start a conversation both between scientists from different fields, in order to foster collaborations, as well as the public, to ensure science is relatable and exciting no matter what your background is. “I hope InterSci will bring back that inner curiosity we all had when we first decided to become scientists, and that ultimately makes us love what we do.”, concludes Diana Sá da Bandeira, secretary of InterSci.
Get your (free) ticket for Ask A Scientist here.
This article was written by Chiara Herzog