This is a guest blog written by Fiona Stapleton who is about to start her second year on the BSc in Biotechnology programmes in DCU.
The London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) has definitely been one of the best experiences of my life to date. I’ve made lifelong friendships, and had the opportunity to visit places I could have only dreamed of.
The forum not only included inspiring lectures and thrilling debates, but also excursions to world class research institutions and universities, such as Imperial College London, Oxford and Cambridge Universities, and Cardiff University in Wales, as well as many more. I particularly enjoyed the social events that took place, such as the Science Bazaar and the ‘Traditions from Home’ evening which provided great opportunities to relax and meet new people. It is here that I met people from a variety of countries, such as Australia, Israel, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden, Canada, and New Zealand to name a few. I really enjoyed meeting people from such varied backgrounds, learning about their cultures, food, and school systems. Comparing Ireland’s dismal ‘summer’ to those of Israel and Australia was always a source of comedy.
The diverse range of plenary lectures was really interesting, as I found myself enjoying subjects I never thought I would, my favourites being the lecture from the European Space Agency, and the opening lecture from the amazing Professor Hyat Sindi. The facility to choose specialist lectures and visits, meant that I was constantly learning and visiting institutions that are related to my current degree in Biotechnology, and I will be sure to take this information back with me to Dublin for the start of the new semester.
I was particularly fortunate to have the opportunity to visit the CERN research facility in Geneva, Switzerland, which made headlines in 2012 for the discovery of the Higgs Boson. We visited the home of the ATLAS detector, one of two detection centres credited with the Higgs Boson discovery, as well as the Hadron Collider test facility. At this test facility, we learned about the different components of the Hadron Collider, and how they come together to make the massive structure that stretches 27km around the circumference of Geneva. The trip was a great way to extend the LIYSF experience for a week longer, taking us to both Paris and Geneva.
For me, the forum really broadened my horizons and inspired me to work hard. The general message I took home was that anything is possible, and that with determination you can achieve your dreams. This year’s theme was ‘Science, Making Life Better’, and the past few weeks have definitely inspired me to do just that.
All in all, the forum was an amazing experience that I am grateful to have been a part of. To the LIYSF family, stay in touch!