The lockdown in 2020 meant I no longer had access to the observatory. Instead, I created experiments at home, aiming to determine how physics and an understanding of the motion of soft materials can help reduce waste in production processes.
The world is in a different place from 2015 – the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis has made the goals more urgent. We have almost all the science we need to make changes – renewable energy, biotechnology and biofuels, to name but a few. Yet, the biggest challenge we face this decade is how to bring about change in the hearts and mindsets of individuals, institutions and national systems. So, can social science help close the gap?
What is the biggest mental health issue of the day? It’s not COVID – which most people with and without mental illness are coping with admirably. It is, as ever, the stigmatisation of mental illness and the underfunding of mental health services. The two are clearly related, and despite some improvements in recent years, there remains a long way to go.
A recent report from the Scottish Government highlighted the disproportionate effect COVID-19 has had on a variety of groups, such as women, ethnic minorities, and low paid workers. So how can we prevent this pandemic from reversing the progress we have made towards workplace equality, diversity, and inclusion?
Traditional science and engineering methods control as many variables in an experiment as possible to increase confidence in narrow hypotheses. This directly opposes the broader needs of society during adverse events – where we cannot control changing circumstance.
As a mathematician and roboticist, I have been lucky enough to work on many complex projects like developing algorithms for a NASA humanoid robot to balance, navigate and manipulate objects autonomously; in preparation for deployment on Mars. However, I am fascinated with the question of how the latest advances in my field can help tackle some of the biggest and most intriguing healthcare challenges of our generation.