Science at the Interface
12 Jul, 2019 by Minushika Punchihewa

Science at the forefront

Science has played a pertinent role in shaping our current society. Throughout the course of history, the role of science has progressed from mere experiments to innovative and cutting-edge discoveries that are rapidly propelling us into the future.

Much of this progression comes from embracing the contributions science has had on the broader aspects of society and how it has inevitably shaped our economic, political and cultural landscape. As the theme for LIYSF 2019, science at the interface encourages us to do exactly that, consider science not as an individual subject, but as a unified and collaborative discipline.

Zipline Drone

An aeroplane flying through the sky over a village.
A self-automated Zipline drone flying over a village in Rwanda, Africa

Combining different disciplines, such as technology, engineering and medicine, allows us to think outside the box, and reach new frontiers in our research and technology. An example of this concept in action is the company Zipline.’ This initiative uses a pre-programmed drone delivery system to transport medical supplies to local hospitals in parts of Africa. The impact of Zipline is seen not only through the 13,000,000 people this company provides urgent medical supplies to but through its ability to revolutionize access to healthcare in rural areas through the combination of engineering and medical innovation.


A hand holding a bubble filled with water up to the sky.
Ooho water pods were created as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles.

Edible ’Ooho’ water pods are another example of an interdisciplinary solution focused on reducing plastic waste. Created by a team of chemists, engineers and entrepreneurs, these water pods have an edible outer membrane made of seaweed, ultimately providing a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic bottles. They were recently distributed at the London Marathon and were part of the organization’s sustainability goals of reducing the number of plastic bottles from 760,000 to 215,000 at this 2019 event.

These brainchildren are just two examples of the interdisciplinary power of science, and their potential to redefine our social, political and environmental landscape.

LIYSF 2019 provides an opportunity to envision where this idea of science at the interface can take us while encouraging participants to be ambitious and innovative changemakers that will drive us into the future.

Here are three other great examples of how science and technology have been used to tackle some critical issues we face today:

  1. The automation of cars has long been a futuristic dream; however, not for much longer. These self-driving cars may be widely available on the roads of Britain from as recently as 2021. Automation provides greater autonomy and control for the elderly and disabled, and the promise of safer roads through fewer accidents.
  2. The meat industry plays a contentious role in contributing to climate change, predominantly through greenhouse gas. With the growing consumption of meat, scientists are working on lab-grown steak as a way of making this demand for meat more sustainable. A process of cellular agriculture is used, which is when cells from an animal are used to grow animal muscle tissue and replicate meat within the laboratory.
  3. Nanogirl is a social enterprise that promotes science and technology and advocates for equal opportunities within this area for all young people. Dr Dickinson, both a scientist and engineer from New Zealand, wants to use storytelling as a way of bridging the gap between science and communication, a common barrier for people in engaging with science.

STEM Education


  1. Zipline
  2. These edible water pods could help reduce plastic bottle waste
  3. Designers Develop Edible Water Bubble to Replace Hazardous Plastic Bottles
  4. London Marathon Replaces Plastic Bottles with Edible Seaweed Drink Capsules
  5. Self-driving cars ‘will transform the lives of the elderly
  6. Why it’s time to get real about interdisciplinary research
  7. Nanogirl
  8. The race to make a lab-grown steak | MIT Technology Review
  9. Should scientists engage in activism?

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