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Plenary Lectures
06 Nov, 2019 by Minushika Punchihewa

Principal Plenary Lectures at 61st LIYSF

Throughout the two weeks at LIYSF, participants had the opportunity to attend several plenary lectures that were held at the Royal Geographical Society.

These plenary lectures focused on different areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Medicine (STEM), with the underlying connection being the theme for LIYSF 2019, ‘Science At The Interface.’ They provided participants with an excellent opportunity to further their interest in a certain area of science and technology or to expand their repertoire within the STEM field.

The Plenary speakers and lectures for LIYSF 2019:

Each plenary speaker shared their incredible journey into their distinguished fields of science and technology, a testament to the prestigious accomplishments and advancement these inspiring speakers have had within the global science community.

Professor Clare Elwell and Dr. Gemma Bale are medical physicists from the University College of London who has dedicated their lives to improving the way we understand the brain.

Their research explores different ways to examine the brain of young people in countries where access to the latest medical resources are not readily available. Professor Elwell shared her team’s research into creating the world’s first oxygen imaging system that allows medical professionals to non-invasively undertake brain imaging through mapping brain oxygenation.

“Science is not done by one person, it is a multidisciplinary pursuit”

Dr. Gemma Bale similarly addressed another problem through her research which was, ‘can we monitor brain health while baby is in intensive care?’ Dr. Bale’s research provides a safe way to undertake brain imaging in babies a lot earlier on in their developmental stages through using Near-Infrared Spectroscopy.

Professor Elwell and Dr. Bale are pioneering the future of brain monitoring while addressing a global problem.

“Unmet need and innovation, when these two parts merge, that’s when we see success.”

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was another captivating plenary speaker at the 61st LIYSF. Participants were fortunate to have Professor Dame Bell Burnell, a pioneer in astrophysics and a Nobel Prize recipient share their research and journey into transient astronomy.


Professor Dame Bell Burnell shared the developments in Charged Couple Devices (CCDs) and computing and how these are changing the way astronomers are able to observe the night sky. Transient astrophysical events were typically captured by long exposure times, however, Dame Jocelyn describes how improved CCDs and computing capabilities have allowed for repeated short observations, consequently opening a new domain in astronomy.

During an interview with Professor Dame Bell Burnell, she left participants with this advice as they embark into the exciting, mysterious and scary field of science.

“Hang in there, don’t give up too easily, no job in life is going to be absolutely straightforward, so you will need tenacity, persistence.”

STEM Education

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