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Second place prize winner Zaibaa Patel (Biomedical Engineering (MEng + PhD), 2019), tells us all about her experience of the prestigious Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, including the first-ever 48-hour Online Sciathon. 

Can you tell me about your time at City?

I was at City for 8 years, completing my MEng and PhD. I absolutely loved my time at City; especially the great staff within the department. I can’t thank my PhD supervisor, Professor Panicos Kyriacou enough for giving me the opportunity to embark on a PhD and for training me to be a researcher.

I was awarded a Doctoral Scholarship by SMCSE, where my research focused on optical monitoring and electronic instrumentation. I engaged in a research project that involved the development of an intra-luminal sensor monitoring intestinal viability in colorectal cancer surgery, where I also received a prestigious postgraduate award by the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers.

During my PhD, I was nominated and identified by the university and the Royal Society as a young scientist candidate to apply to participate in the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2019, dedicated to Physics. Here I was selected and invited to attend and now considered as a Lindau young scientist alumni.

What happened after you graduated?

I was offered a position at King’s College London as a Research Associate in the Randall Centre for Cell and Molecular Biophysics (Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine). Still staying close to the PhD research area of optical monitoring, I am contributing to research within muscle biophysics. Specifically, I am in a group investigating the molecular mechanism of cardiac contraction through optical techniques. The understanding of how the heart contracts on a molecular basis would aid in potential therapeutics for heart disease.

Tell us about the 69th Lindau Meeting

Due to the pandemic, the annual Lindau meeting could not take place, therefore an online Science Day was held (28 June – 1 July). The online event gathered representatives from all the scientific disciplines of the Nobel prize, and the range of topics and discussions were extremely interdisciplinary this year. Nobel Laureates, Lindau alumni and young scientists from physics, chemistry, physiology and medicine as well as economic sciences came together.

The Lindau meeting also held the first-ever Sciathon. Following the format of a hackathon, Lindau alumni, young scientists and young economists were invited to work on an interdisciplinary project during an intense, 48-hour Sciathon. The topics of the Sciathon were about: (1) Lindau Guidelines, (2) Communicating Climate change and (3) Capitalism after Corona. During the 48 hours, they worked on current problems from the three topic areas mentioned before. In the competition, 87 different nationalities were represented as well as alumni from 24 different Lindau meetings of the last 40 years, and also someone from 1982!

I participated in a project under the topic ‘Lindau Guidelines’. The Lindau guidelines was first suggested by Nobel Laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, where the guidelines aim to develop and support a new approach for global, sustainable and cooperative open science in the 21st century.

The group project was called ‘authentiSci: Enabling scientists to provide guidance in a post-factual era of media’. This was a proposal of a web extension that would allow scientists to work together to communicate reliable sources of scientific information to the public. Every day science is communicated to the public through media regardless of its accuracy or reliability, but there is no way for scientists to guide the public as they choose what to believe.

In just 48-hours, a group of 8 members, including myself, created a web extension prototype that allows verified scientists to score sources of scientific information and non-scientists to use as evidence of credibility. We were selected as the top 3 finalists and presented our results ‘live on stage’ during the Online Science Days to all Nobel Laureates and young scientists. With amazing projects to compete with, we were awarded 2nd place.

What has been the most rewarding experience?

Our group of 8 individuals came from all over the world. Coming together, immediately identifying our strengths and starting to work was amazing. We immediately bonded and brainstormed ideas online and found ways to always communicate to enable us to have such a practical project up and running within 48-hours.

Yes! In 48-hours, we managed to get a web extension developed, write a report and create a short video to entice the jury! It was remarkable and I was impressed with the hard work we put in.

Now that the Sciathon is over, our project is continuing to advance and it has been a great way to increase my network of researchers. We are still bouncing around ideas and keen to have this extension used frequently. We are seeking for funding bodies, university sponsorship or verification of our web extension and most importantly, researchers who would like to contribute in “verifying” media articles.

What has been the biggest challenge in creating your prototype?

A challenge was to figure out a way to verify scientists who are reviewing media articles and scoring them. We decided the best method to verify scientists was by authorising them access to review articles by signing into their ORCID account. ‘ORCID provides a persistent digital identifier (an ORCID iD) that you own and control, and that distinguishes you from every other researcher’. (https://orcid.org/)

The logistics of the team was a little challenging, since all of us were from different countries; the time zones and working hour had to be managed well. We were literally working around the clock!

Right now, we need to increase authentiSci’s visibility to scientists, the public and bodies who would be interested in helping us. It would be great if people who are interested could follow us on Twitter or contact us through our website.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

Take every opportunity – don’t miss out.

It’s easy to feel nervous before applying or to feel that ‘It’s highly unlikely that I’ll be chosen’ – you definitely won’t be chosen if you don’t take the opportunity!

Work your utmost best! Once completing the Sciathon, we were extremely happy with the work we produced. Knowing that you put 100% into something, you’ll never be left feeling disappointed or saying ‘I wish I did more or tried harder’.

 

If you are interested in learning more about Zaibaa’s prototype authentiSci or would like to see the Lindau meeting presentation, please explore the links below:

  1. Zaibaa’s City profile
  2. Lindau guidelines
  3. authentiSci 2 minute video
  4. authentiSci Chrome extension
  5. Live on stage presentation

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