I want to start by giving a special thank you to UFV and the Faculty of Science for allowing me to take part in the 62nd annual London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF). Although I was not able to attend in person this year, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, it was still an unforgettable experience. With about 500 attendees from all over the world, there is truly nothing like LIYSF.
In addition to the many lecture demonstrations from leading scientists, LIYSF also offered virtual scientific visits to world class laboratories. I may not have physically been in London, but LIYSF created an immersive experience for all attendees. There were virtual visits to places such as the Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum, the birthplace of penicillin, as well as the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. One of my favourite virtual visits was to the Centre for Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine at King’s College London. I always find it fascinating to learn about the endless possibilities of stem cell research. The cutting-edge research currently taking place may lead to ground-breaking therapies, such as the development of fully formed human organs from a dish!
Most importantly, LIYSF created a space for all of the attendees to network and get to know each other. This created an environment in which I could develop both scientifically and culturally. Travel can provide immense learning opportunities and LIYSF allowed me to feel as though I had traveled around the world in just two weeks.
Science does not have boarders and the ability to share scientific knowledge with other people around the world is crucial. This point was emphasized by this year’s LIYSF theme – Science for Humanity. The LIYSF keynote address was given by Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, the woman who helped design the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine. The lecture was on the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2. This was an especially relevant and intriguing lecture as the SARS-CoV-2 virus has impacted everyone, all over the world. The presentation made it clear that science is an extremely powerful tool as it has enabled the rapid development of effective vaccines. It also brought to light the importance of sharing knowledge and working together since science is international.
One of the most inspiring parts of the forum was the Science Bazaar. I was honoured to represent UFV and present my undergraduate research at LIYSF, alongside so many talented youth. It was an amazing experience to learn about the research taking place around the world by such young researchers. There is so much to learn from each other and I was thankful for the opportunity to learn from the brilliant young minds attending LIYSF.
I left LIYSF with many world-wide connections and a deeper understanding and passion for many fields of science that I did not know much about prior to the forum. I hope that I will get the opportunity to travel to London in person in the future and I may even be lucky enough to return to LIYSF as an alumni. I will always be grateful for the opportunity I had to attend LIYSF as a student from UFV.
~ Heather Kelly