Celebrating 65th London International Youth Science Forum
We are celebrating the 65th London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) and with that, we also celebrate diversity, global connection and love for science. During these 65 years, LIYSF has created a strong scientific community, connecting 23,500 students around the world, and contributing to their development, both in terms of science and culture.
Before telling you all about LIYSF’s achievements, let’s start from the beginning. We’ll explain to you what LIYSF is about and tell you a bit of our amazing history, then we’ll review its impact on the lives of young students.
Are you ready?
The London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) History
LIYSF is a not-for-profit social enterprise that welcomes 500 science students aged 16-21 years old in London every year. In our last edition, we had students from 85 countries around the world attending. Our students come to LIYSF as leading and motivated science students for a two-week programme that offers a unique opportunity to engage with cutting-edge research via an extensive programme of lectures, debates and visits. The programme includes an immersive social and cultural programme and allows young people to interact with like-minded individuals from across the world.
LIYSF was founded in 1959, in the aftermath of the world wars, to give young people from all nations a deeper insight into science for the benefit of all humankind. Considering the variety of realities that exist in the globe, the union of diverse people, from different regions and contexts, it is essential to think of new ways of using science for the benefit of all. The only way to create a union and think about solutions for global problems is to be aware of different realities and the challenges that come with them. With this in mind, LIYSF is designed to create an environment that challenges and empowers young people to think globally, using science to tackle problems such as sustainable energy, food and water security, global health, climate change, and biodiversity.
LIYSF delivers a respected academic STEM programme with a proven track record; it is the longest-running student science forum of its kind, not a competition. LIYSF invests in diversity, as we understand that it is key to our goal of using science for the benefit of all. Over 50% of attending students are female and 65% of attendees are from outside the EU; with our scholarship scheme, we also ensure that students from all socioeconomic backgrounds are represented; we also have a great diversity of speakers, including gender balance with 50% female speakers and diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
In the eighth decade of our existence, the structure of LIYSF and its participation is constantly evolving. Former participants return as student counsellors and staff members and several former participants now act as lecturers and provide programme input. This gives LIYSF a sense of community and offers the participants the opportunity to keep engaged in the event, developing important professional skills.
Over the years, LIYSF has attracted the interest and support of many leading figures in the world of science and politics, each year having a Nobel Prize winner giving the Keynote Opening Address, which in recent years has included, Professor Ben Feringa, Professor James Rothman and Professor Sir Venki Ramakrishnan. LIYSF is honoured to have Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal as our current Royal Patron and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as the Patron of the event from its first edition in 1959 to 1969. LIYSF has also enjoyed UNESCO patronage since 2016.
We are proud of having Richard Myhill as our director since 2008 and Professor Clare Elwell of University College London (UCL) as our President. Her predecessors include no less than four Nobel Laureates, (Sir John Cockroft, Sir Lawrence Bragg, Sir Joseph Rotblat and Lord Porter). Our current Science Patron is Professor Richard O’Kennedy, who has been LIYSF president, staff member and participant.
Sir Jeremy Farrar gave the 2018 closing Keynote Address and he described LIYSF as an “amazing forum with tremendous energy, truly inspiring and exciting”. In 2023 Professor Hiranya Peiris stated, a month after giving her lecture, that this is one of the most rewarding talks I have given and I still feel a buzz from it. The students were so engaged and interactive.”
This is just a bit of our history, but hopefully enough to spark your curiosity about our scientific and cultural programme, which will be explained below.
LIYSF is a two-week residential event held annually at Imperial College London and the Royal Geographical Society that comprises lectures and demonstrations from leading scientists from across the world, including Nobel Prize Winners, visits to industrial sites, research centres, scientific institutions and organisations, including world-class laboratories and universities. LIYSF covers a broad range of subjects across STEM fields and students can tailor their programme to suit their own STEM interests.
During the programme, the participants live together as an international community and can exchange their ideas and experiences of the world to fulfil the aim of the Science Forum: to give a greater insight into science and its application for the benefit of all mankind.
Besides its emphasis on interaction with science, LIYSF also has a strong focus on cultural interaction. Students partake in a strong social programme with cultural events designed to educate and familiarize them with different cultures and traditions. The International Cabaret and the Traditions of Home evenings are activities specially focused on cultural interaction. In these events the participants teach fellow students how to perform or interact with their local custom/tradition/ expression, facilitating social inclusion and intercultural dialogue.
LIYSF has a debate session where students consider problems and solutions to a social problem in the context of the home country, including society, political, environmental and business considerations, thus empowering participants to manage ethical, legal, environmental and societal implications of scientific and technological challenges. We have a specialist study day where the students split into groups to learn from a subject of their interest and then they have the opportunity to present their ideas and solutions around their problem to the student body.
One of the students’ favourite moments during LIYSF is the Science Bazaar, where they take part in an exciting opportunity to present their work in a non-competitive environment with fellow students from all over the world and our science experts. Presenting their research in our poster board event is a great opportunity for development in science communication, which is a vital part of being a scientist in the modern world.
As you can see, LIYSF encourages students to be creative, critic and responsible citizens, while offering a reach STEM programme. This is a unique opportunity for learning and development.
What do students and alumni say about LIYSF?
We have a big alumni community which consists of past participants who keep engaged in LIYSF, many as staff, speakers and supporters. We maintain this community as a way to further promote the aim of the Science Forum: to give a greater insight into science and its application for the benefit of all mankind. The existence of this network allows past participants to keep connected and develop new connections with students who participated in different years, exchanging ideas and collaborating on projects.
The ongoing contact that LIYSF maintain with their participants also allows us to track their career development and their view on the role of LIYSF in their development as professionals. Our recent alumni survey showed that;
- 26% Have obtained a doctorate degree
- 19% Currently studying for a doctorate degree
Our alumni also consider that LIYSF has positively contributed to their career and self-development, as well as to their networking skills.
- 80% consider that LIYSF contributed to their perception and knowledge of STEM careers;
- 76% Consider that LIYSF contributed to their motivation to follow a career in their field of interest;
- 96% Consider that LIYSF contributed to their ability to understand other cultures and perspectives;
- 81% Consider that LIYSF contributed to their ability to think in new ways; and
- 87% Consider that LIYSF contributed to their networking skills.
These results are important as they show that we are being successful in meeting our aim and motivate us to keep improving our programme.
LIYSF 2024 is waiting for you
Well, if you are passionate about STEM and would love to gain knowledge while improving your networking and making friends, LIYSF is the perfect place for you this summer.
Our 65th version promises to be a success with the Nobel Prize Winner Sir Gregory Winter giving the Opening Ceremony Keynote Address and Professor Kelly Chibale giving the First Principal Lecture. Other big names that will be joining LIYSF include Dr Dimitrios Kanoulas, Professor Tolullah Oni, Dr. Jason Nurse and Vilas Dhar.
For more information please visit:- LIYSF 2024 page.
We are waiting for you!