By: Kenneth Tam
This week leading thinkers from the world’s top scientific institutions are gathering in Berlin for a series of special events that promote interdisciplinary research and inspire a deeper understanding of our world: Berlin Science Week.
Covering subjects from blockchain to the role of research museums, this week showcases the global research community for an international audience, creating unique opportunities for world-leading programs to share their knowledge and experiences while identifying potential collaborators.
It was in the spirit of collaboration that Future Energy Systems partnered with the Canadian Embassy in Germany for a special event: Shaping the Future of Energy, a one-day showcase of the program’s research combined with a discussion of the importance of international research collaboration.
The first half of the day featured presentations from six Future Energy Systems Principal Investigators: Director Dr. M. Anne Naeth representing the land and water theme; Dr. Dominic Sauvageau elaborating on biomass research; Dr. Steve Bergens representing the solar theme; Dr. Jonathan Banks on geothermal energy; Dr. Lori Thorlakson offering a social sciences perspective on energy research; and Deputy Director Dr. Amit Kumar discussing system-wide analysis.
In the afternoon, a panel including research and policy personnel from Germany and Canada reflected on the importance of international research collaborations and the practicalities involved with their implementation. Panelists included Dr. Jörg Sauer from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (a part of the Helmholtz Association, with which the University of Alberta has a research partnership), Fraunhofer UMSICHT’s Christian Doetsch, German Federal Ministry of Education and Research project manager Kerstin Annassi, University of Alberta Associate Vice-President (Research) Dr. Randy Goebel and Future Energy Systems Assistant Director Dr. Marija Petrovic.
This event provided a unique perspective on energy research, and also highlighted the important role Future Energy Systems plays on the world stage thanks to the $75 million in funding it received through the Government of Canada’s Canada First Research Excellence Fund. Through joint research projects with China’s Tsinghua University, its leveraging of a technology platform partnership with Germany’s Fraunhofer Society, and an exchange program with RWTH Aachen University, the initiative is creating new opportunities for discovery while providing valuable training experiences for students and post-doctoral fellows.
Berlin Science Week continues until November 10, and Future Energy Systems will have a presence at one of its signature events on November 8: the Falling Walls Lab. The University of Alberta was invited to send two students to that global research pitch competition –– billed as part three-minute thesis, part TED talk –– and after competing in a local qualifier, PhD candidate Stephanie Chute-Ibsen was selected to present her work on assessing land reclamation success based on invertebrate populations.