HPC at Trieste-NEXT: the importance of science communication in the era of Big Data

With the support of the European Research Council (ERC) and ESOF 2020, the 8th annual Trieste-NEXT science festival was held in Trieste, Italy from 26 – 28 September, 2019.

Entitled “Big data, Deep Science. The future of science and humans in an era of augmented intelligence”, the Trieste-NEXT festival aims to encourage dialogue between the worlds of research and business and seeks to close the gap between science and society by engaging the public in a series of discussions and hands-on activities.

How is big data going to change medicine? Is it possible to use big data to study climate change? These were a few of the questions explored at Trieste-NEXT, whose more than 50,000 attendees attended 50 events—including conferences, workshops, scientific shows, and hands-on activities—and listened to discussions from the 150 speakers who visited Trieste from all over Europe.

The Helmholtz Zentrum Munich was invited to join the discussion, and Principal Investigators Oliver Bruns and Jian Cui from the Helmholtz Pioneer Campus talked about the role of live-imaging and nanophotonics in the future of biology and medicine. Three hundred graduate and PhD students from all over Italy—all winners of an Academy Project fellowship to attend Trieste-NEXT—were in attendance.

Among the 150 speakers were Marc Mézard, director of the École normale supérieure, and Peter Wadhams, professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge.

 “I firmly believe that scientists should engage in more science outreach. If you are a privately funded researcher, then fine, you don’t need to engage the public if you don’t want to. But if you receive any government support, aka tax-payer money, then you are obligated to inform the public what their money goes towards“ pointed out Jian Cui. “Moreover, I think it’s important that we communicate to the public that we appreciate their contributions, that we are working hard and trying our best, and also that our output isn’t only knowledge and technology, but also well-trained scientists and engineers.”

“Public outreach is important for me to communicate with the society which is funding our research“ said Oliver Bruns „ and moreover this event in particular was also very useful to attract future students to the group and showcase our research and HPC and HMGU in general”.


Interested in watching the presentations and discussion of Jian Cui and Oliver Bruns? Find it here

Want to listen to Jian Cui's podcast on Nanophotonics in biology and medicine? Find it here