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Press Release
 
Apply Now! – The Application Process for the First Heidelberg Laureate Forum Is Up and Running
 
Starting now, young researchers in the fields of mathematics and computer science can apply for the first Heidelberg Laureate Forum, which will take place from September 22 until 27, 2013. The application deadline is February 15, 2013.
 
The Klaus Tschira Stiftung invites students, PhD candidates and postdocs in the fields of mathematics and computer science from all over the world to apply online for the first Heidelberg Laureate Forum. Applicants will find all information on the application process and on the required material for an
 application on the website www.heidelberg-laureate-forum.org . Candidates who recently completed their PhD and show a strong interest in science are also encouraged to apply, even if they are now working in a non-scientific environment.

Online applications until February 15, 2013:http://www.heidelberg-laureate-forum.org/heidelberg-laureate-forum-2013/application

The final selection of the invitees will be made by the Scientific Committee supporting the Heidelberg Laureate Forum. Members of the Scientific Committee are representatives of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the International Mathematical Union (IMU) and the Norwegian Academy for Science and Letters, amongst others. Successful applicants will be notified by April 15, 2013. Travel support will be provided for a limited number of young researchers.

The Heidelberg Laureate Forum offers the extraordinary opportunity to meet some of the pre-eminent scientists in mathematics and computer science to a select group of young researchers. During the week-long event, they will be able to get to know recipients of the most prestigious prizes for mathematics (Fields Medal and Abel Prize) and computer science (Turing Award).The Heidelberg Laureate Forum will take place from September 22 until 27, 2013 for the first time and will be held annually thereafter. Lectures and workshops offer plenty of opportunity for scientific exchange, while a rich variety of social events encourages the young researchers to engage in casual conversations with their scientific role models.

The Klaus Tschira Stiftung supports the natural sciences, mathematics and computer science. www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de
 
Heidelberg Laureate Forum contact:
Ruth Wetzlar, Yasmin Gürkan
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
 
Press contact:
Klaus Tschira Stiftung, Renate Ries
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Application deadline is February 15, 2013.
 
The  agreement about the establishment of the Heidelberg Laureate Forum was signed by the parties involved at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters on the 22nd of May 2012. More information:
http://www.abelprize.no/nyheter/vis.html?tid=54557
 

Best regards
Anne-Marie Astad
Information Adviser, The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters

In June, a Ugandan science journalist attended UKCSJ 2012; now, two early-career ABSW journalists are visiting Uganda on a professional development trip co-organised with USJA (Ugandan Science Journalists Association). ABSW is twinned with USJA through a scheme co-ordinated by the World Federation of Science Journalists.

The two journalists will be attending the USJA annual forum, which will focus on energy, from 15–16 November in Kampala. You can follow their experiences on Twitter @harrietebailey and @smithamundasad, and with the hashtag #usjf.

Harriet Bailey is the newest researcher for 'earthrise', Al Jazeera's environment programme, investigating solutions to environmental challenges around the world. She has just graduated with an MA in Science Journalism after earning a BSc in pure mathematics – though she managed blogs, interviewed scientists and created graphics even as a student. She previously interned at the Science Media Centre and Lion TV Productions.

Last Thursday The Times’ monthly science magazine, Eureka, sold its final copy. The decision has been attributed to lower than expected advertising uptake. The Times will continue to cover science and technology, and is said to still have an “appetite” for science-related content.

Tom Whipple, science correspondent at The Times said he had been told of the decision last Thursday evening – the same day the magazine had come out on sale. He had not known of the move previously, but said it was “not a huge surprise, because it takes a lot of money to produce a glossy magazine – especially one as beautiful as Eureka”.

The original idea for Eureka came from Mark Henderson, who was the science editor at The Times until the end of 2011. “The idea came up when James Harding, the editor, was casting around for ideas for improving the paper,” Henderson told the ABSW. “I suggested having a dedicated science section. Every newspaper has an arts section, a reviews section, a sport section, but there's often no science one.”

Henderson said his idea was initially a lot less ambitious than Eureka turned out. “I was thinking of a section, not a magazine,” he said, “but James loved the idea from the get go, and he was of the opinion that if we were going to do this, we would do it properly – and he was right."

The magazine was certainly not closed because the science coverage is not seen as interesting at the paper; that was one thing both Whipple and Henderson were sure of.

“What is really clear is that it was popular,” said Henderson. “There were sales spikes when it came out, and the user feedback was excellent, through social media and through people engaging with it. I think it pitched the right tone. It's a great shame that it has finished.”

Whipple said the mood in the Eureka team was understandably “very sad all round”, but that everyone understood the reasons why it had to happen. He said he did not think there would be any job losses because of the closure. This was not about getting rid of people, he said, but more about eliminating the cost of all that glossy paper.

“I think it's fair to say that we weren't getting the advertising we had hoped for,” he added.

The obvious question is why Eureka, if it was such a popular magazine, was unable to attract advertising sustainably. The reasons are not entirely clear, but Henderson put it down simply to the wider trends in the media.

“It is a really challenging environment for newspapers out there,” he said. “And advertising itself has just been very flat in general recently.”

But it was nothing to do with the science, he said. “In fact, a science magazine probably had more chance than anything else.”

The differences between Uganda and the UK are stark but it’s the similarities that have stuck in my mind. I had my preconceptions of a war-torn and poverty-stricken country, mostly drawn from the media and charity campaigns. But as the recent Radi-Aid YouTube sensation demonstrates, this one-sided perspective on a whole continent is grossly mistaken.

As an early career science journalist I was invited to Kampala to be part of the second Ugandan Science Journalism Forum (USJF) as an ambassador for the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW).  Around 50 delegates amassed in the conference hall to discuss the theme of energy – a controversial topic considering Uganda’s recent discovery of another one billion barrels of oil deposits in its borders.

Uganda derives almost all its energy needs from biomass, with demand for wood and charcoal growing an estimated 6% year on year. It took a meal to put this into perspective, cooked by our award-winning host Lominda using a traditional charcoal stove and a chicken that had been scratching the yard a few hours earlier.

Land usage is under enormous pressure, with more acreage being turned over for fuel production a food and water shortage is an imminent danger. Renewable solutions are needed but the culture of a nation almost entirely dependent on agriculture means their adoption is slow at the moment.

Going bananas

The Ugandans have the same concerns as Britons regarding climate change, only its impact has far greater implications on the landlocked country straddling the equator. An overwhelming majority of the population, nearly 90%, live rurally and rely on agriculture to make a living. This dependence is reflected in science coverage in the news; while items about Uganda in the UK science press focus on health, the Ugandans focus on breaking research in the plant world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Caption: Dr Andrew Kiggundu runs the research into GM bananas at Kwanda Institute. The scientists are aiming for vitamin A and iron fortification, resistance to diseases such as Sikatoga disease or higher yields.

Dr Andrew Kiggundu studies the nation’s staple food at the Kwanda Research Institute in Kampala, which we visited on our first day. There doesn’t go a meal in Kampala without encountering a banana. Not the bright yellow, bestickered and frankly tasteless Cavendish that we see piled up in our supermarkets in the Western world but a wide variation on the theme; from the starchy matoke, steamed and mashed on every plate, to the sweet lady’s fingers banana, sold in bunches of ten (don’t try buying just one).

A fruit so integral to daily life in Uganda is being researched intensely by the country’s scientists. And for good reason. In the 1950s, a single disease wiped out the world dominant cultivar of banana, Gros Michel, forcing producers to switch to the now commonplace Cavendish. The world’s second largest producer of bananas can’t have another Panama Disease on their hands.

Kiggundu has been working on genetically modified cultivars since 2005 with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. GM is seen as a necessity rather than a controversy in Uganda, but there are still no commercially grown crops in the country.  Not that the locals know this – ask them their views on GM and they’ll tell you they’ve been eating it for years, not knowing the difference between conventional breeding and genetically modification.

The institute itself was remarkably similar to plant research sites in the UK; inside was the spit of Rothamsted or the John Innes. The difference only hit you when you walked outside into the 30 degree heat. I was hugging the shadows and glad to tuck into a plate brimming with food (bananas aplenty) under a mango tree. The best way to put your research into perspective.

Something fishy

From agriculture to aquaculture for our final field trip. The two most commonly eaten fish in Uganda are the tilapia and catfish, both farmed intensively along the country’s waterways. The National Fisheries Research Institute on the road to Jinja is in the process of developing food for aqua farmers to provide the best nutrition for these fish. In a set of ponds in the blistering heat, fish are fed, watered and measured on a weekly basis by a dedicated team – our guide, Joseph, had been at the Institute for 20 years.

Caption: Catfish and tilapia are hatched in the nursery and grown in consecutive pools. Fresh water is supplied to each pond by a gravity-driven irrigation system.

For the last four of those a group of Chinese researchers and business men have been responsible for running the organisation. Boasting two new buildings and a paved road, the Ugandan-Chinese self-styled friendship has driven research towards commercial prospects –perfecting growing conditions for ornamental fish is in the pipeline.

Ugandan style

Back at the conference and the speakers were discussing the potential for commercial ventures in a global market and meeting the concerns of the local people. How can a villager be encouraged to farm sustainably with a variety of indigenous plants to maintain the lush ecosystem when they are being offered cash to crop biofuels?

Caption: Our host, Lominda Afedraru with her print award at the Ugandan Science Journalism Association

I’ve developed an important perspective on reporting from and on a developing country – needs and interests have to be relevant to the readership and what may be a priority in UK science reporting can be trivial to a Ugandan. One thing it seems all journalists have in common is discussing matters over food and a local liquor – a gin in Kampala. Made from bananas.

Harriet Bailey

Harriet Bailey is the newest researcher for 'earthrise', Al Jazeera's environment programme, investigating solutions to environmental challenges around the world. She has just graduated with an MA in Science Journalism after earning a BSc in pure mathematics – though she managed blogs, interviewed scientists and created graphics even as a student. She previously interned at the Science Media Centre and Lion TV Productions.

For a more detailed report on the Ugandan Science Journalists Forum and their associated Science Journalism Awards see here http://www.wfsj.org/news/news.php?id=295

Background to the ABSW funded visit:

The ABSW is twinned with the Ugandan Science Journalists Association (USJA) through a scheme coordinated by the World Federation of Science Journalists. 

To further develop relationships between the ABSW and USJA, the ABSW funded the visit of a Ugandan science journalist for the UKCSJ 2012; subsequent to this visit the ABSW funded two early-career science journalists to visit Uganda and take part in the USJA annual forum, 15–16 November in Kampala. 

The science editors of two national papers from two continents have recently been made redundant. Mike Swain, former science and environment editor at The Daily Mirror left the paper in August, and the position of science editor of The Australian — occupied by Leigh Dayton — suffered the same fate on 7 September. The moves are part of a wider crisis in journalism, but according to the journalists in question, also reflect a view among the papers' senior executives that specialist science reporting is unprofitable and expendable.

Access to Understanding is a new science-writing competition for PhD students and early career researchers with an interest in communicating science to the public.

Join a generation of biomedical and health researchers who recognise the importance of opening up the results of scientific research, so that they are truly accessible to everyone.

A scientific journal article may be the established way to describe your science to other researchers, but is this the best way to explain scientific findings to the public? If you’re confident that you can write about the complicated scientific terms and concepts in a research article in a way that anyone can easily understand, this could be the competition for you!

Using no more than 800 words, we want you to pick one article from the list provided and explain the research and why it matters to a non-scientific audience.

Closing Date: 11th January 2013 (5pm)

Link for full details is below:

http://europepmc.org/ScienceWritingCompetition

The Association of British Science Writers (ABSW) is twinned with the Ugandan Science Journalists Association (USJA) as part of a scheme co-ordinated by the World Federation of Science Journalists.

Earlier this year the ABSW organised and gained funding for a professional development trip for Ugandan Science Journalists to attend the UK Conference of Science Journalists, the ABSW’s biennial conference.   The ABSW would now like to extend its links with the USJA by sending two early career science journalists to the USJA Annual Forum in Uganda in November 2012 (final date tbc).

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EurekAlert!

EurekAlert

EurekAlert! is the ABSW's professional development partner and supports all ABSW professional development and training events.