This week is British Science Week 2023, which is a 10-day celebration of science. We are highlighting the variety of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and engaging people in hands-on activities, events, and debates to increase awareness of the significance of science and its influence on our daily lives.
In the United Kingdom, there is a lack of scientists and engineers. Businesses want STEM talents at every level. British Science Week provides us with an excellent chance to urge individuals of all ages and backgrounds to connect with science and to encourage young people to seek a STEM-related profession.
Why study science, engineering, technology, or mathematics? In STEM, there are tremendously rewarding and interesting prospects for young people. This needs studying science in school, followed by advancement via apprentice or graduate pathways. One of the most successful pathways to social mobility, self-prosperity, and communal well-being is encouraging young people from lower-income households to get science credentials.
Working in science affords the possibility of international travel, cultural education, and international collaboration. Scientific research is a worldwide endeavor and the only effective means of addressing global issues that are significant to many young people, such as poverty, climate change, sustainable energy, food security, healthcare, and biodiversity loss.
As a Professor of Chemistry at Durham University and a Member of the Royal Society, I have conducted research in the fields of surface science and nanotechnology. Developing functionalised surfaces is the foundation of a global multibillion dollar business. Surface chemistry governs, for instance, the cleanliness of smart phones, the resistance of biomedical equipment to microorganisms, the speed of computer hard disks, and even the wear of automobile brake pads.
My research team focuses on developing innovative functional surfaces for commercial applications and alleviating poverty in low-income nations. This has necessitated the development of solutions to aid in the delivery of clean drinking water, water harvesting, and affordable healthcare. My laboratory’s patent-protected research has spawned the formation of three startup enterprises.
I was motivated to come to Wales because I believe that, as a tiny nation, we have enormous potential to lead the world in the development of sustainable technology for the benefit of all people.
As the new Chief Scientific Advisor for Wales, it is my responsibility to maximize science’s contribution to the lives of the Welsh people by providing competent leadership in the creation of science and research policy. Like I’ve done with my own research, I’d like to assist the universities of Wales so that they can benefit society and beyond.
As the head of the science profession in Wales, I am also responsible for promoting the importance of high-quality scientific advice to Welsh Ministers as they design and implement policies that promote the prosperity and well-being of our communities.
Wales has a wide variety of environmental, economic, social, and health-related concerns that are not specific to Wales and are frequently global in scope. Wales has a significant contribution to contribute to this collaborative effort across nations and sectors (including government, academia, the non-profit sector, and business and industry). Effective collaboration requires shared risk and shared reward.
No nation, industry, organization, or business can do everything. As is the case with all nations, Wales must determine how to use its resources and efforts to achieve the greatest good for both its residents (humans, animals, and plants) and the larger world community. The newly introduced Innovation Strategy of the Welsh Government tries to address all of these factors.
There will be a need for decisions, many of which will necessitate tough choices between conflicting possibilities and demands. Effective judgments need a comprehensive awareness of the research, development, and innovation landscape in Wales, as well as the broader context of the global system in which Wales is involved.
Wales will have possibilities to have a good contribution and strengthen its status as a trusted and respected partner in conjunction with the challenges. Recent work by Elsevier indicates Wales’ cooperation prowess, and this collaboration is related with scientific research citations above the global average.
The key to success will be ensuring that possibilities arising from world-class basic scientific research are transformed into effective real-world solutions. This necessitates a concentration on accelerating the development of new discoveries up the technological readiness levels (TRLs) so that the potential advantages of such discoveries can be realized by everybody.
This, in a nutshell, entails the development of novel concepts, their commercialization, and their dissemination to the general public for the betterment of their daily life.
To help fulfill the Welsh Government’s five goals for RD&I, which were established by the First Minister of Wales in 2021, I have established four early priorities that will drive the aim for Wales to be a true global leader in research and innovation:
- Creating the scientists of the future via STEM enrichment by providing all children with opportunity to participate in STEM activities.
- Enhancing the foundations for excellence in STEM research in Wales
- Recruiting and retaining the world’s top scientists
- Fostering possibilities for successful cooperation in applied science in order to provide Welsh scientists with the abilities required for advancement along the TRLs in research, development, and innovation.
If these difficulties are to be effectively solved, science must play a crucial role for the benefit of all of society.
Our distinctive Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act continues to gain international appreciation and recognition. Science makes a true and crucial contribution to achieving the goals of this landmark Act, not only in Wales but for the benefit of the whole world.
I eagerly anticipate collaborating with government, corporate, industrial, school, and academic colleagues to realize our goals.