Welcome the new directive board of SciDF

SciDF has a new directive board. Here you can hear from them, their experience in the association and their visions for it.

First we will read the last words of Yoran Beldengrün in his position as founding president. Then the new president, Laura Díaz, and vice president, Carla Conejo, will expose their thoughts. Treasurer Ryan Armstrong and seretary Janire Gesto will close the article.

Yoran Beldengrün, leaving founding president

SciDF put a strong focus on the human factor and this is for me one of the most important results of our work in the last 3 years. We managed to create an incredibly diverse community of persons who want to discover new horizons of science and get engaged by it. Hereby I’m not talking only about the people who got involved in the team and contributed to the advancement of the organisation, but also our audience which goes from kids up to high-profile professionals. This huge array of persons and entities with whom we have collaborated acknowledges the importance and quality of our work.

On a personal note I enjoyed most having got to know and collaborate with such a large variety of persons and entities, each and every one with its own story. From an organisational perspective, the actions with which we could give a public voice to science were my highlights: the mobilisation for the March for Science Barcelona, our major public debate during the Catalan Independence Crisis and the campaign #TambéVotemCiència, in which during the regional elections we asked the political parties to present their position on 10 topics related to science.

One of the most difficult issues is that we still preach majorly to the choir. We are amazed by the amount of people who join our events, but often it is persons who have previous experience in the fields which we want to cover with SciDF. Our aim is to reach out as well to the less informed and engaged and act as a bridge builder for those who are still on either side of the bridge.

In July I completed my PhD in the field of drug delivery. I am now working as a Mercator Fellow on International Affairs 2018/19 in the field of science diplomacy and thereby analysing its potential in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I will therefore work some months in Boston for the Swiss science consulate swissnex, then in Israel with organisations involved in science diplomacy projects in the region and finally come back to Europe to analyse the potential the EU can have in supporting science diplomacy initiatives in the region.

I wish SciDF three things for the future: continuity, flexibility and active involvement in debates. Continuity in SciDF’s regular events to raise awareness and knowledge about SciDF’s key topics and to give a platform to the different actors of the scientific community to meet. Flexibility to adapt and react to changes in current affairs that might affect the scientific sector. And finally, I encourage SciDF, after having grown to the organisation we are today, to actively get involved in public debates and form our own position papers to topics of relevance.

Last but not least I, of course, wish a lot of success to the entire team and especially also to Laura Diaz, my successor as president, and to Carla Conejo, the new vice president. I’m extremely grateful for the huge commitment to SciDF of each and every current and past team member.

And now welcome the new SciDF directive board.

Laura Díaz, president

I have been volunteering at SciDF for over a year and a half because I believe in their message and goals. In this time, I have not found a similar association in Barcelona, that aims at giving voice to science in the fields that SciDF does.

I am a biologist and pre-doctoral researcher in biomedicine. I know the scientific sector, its personnel and their unquenchable determination to work despite the frustration generated by the economic difficulties. And even if we fight for our scientific production to get recognition, the part of science is pushed into the background in political decisions, the contract conditions are still miserable and the rise of pseudosciences threatens all the efforts put into our research. In a context where many professionals consider quitting research, SciDF wants to break the mould mobilising the scientific sector to claim its place in politics and economics and allowing it to take part in the decision-making that affects research carriers.

Moreover, the human capital of SciDF is unique. We are all volunteers moved by the same goal: empower science and the scientific sector. Our association integrates over twenty people of different nationalities and from various fields of work, which allows us to approach the science scenario from diverse perspectives that meet in the end.

As president of SciDF, I commit to finding new collaboration networks with other organisations that share our message to work together and become stronger. Collaboration is an essential part of any research project and we believe that it is the basis of any change.

Carla Conejo, vice president

As a human biologist with special fascination for the brain I was mainly involved in neurobiology research during my university years. Early in my life I also started getting involved in different science dissemination initiatives that have brought me to join Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation, where I work as a science project manager and lead the scientific team within the Area of Knowledge & Research. With the main aim of promoting scientific vocations amongst the youth, I work in the field of science education and dissemination. Also, as a volunteer, I have been involved for more than seven years now in different non-profit scientific organizations intended to close up the gap between science and society. SciDF is for me the next step to take in this direction, by exploring this time the interaction of science not only with society but also with the economics and politics dimension.

The network of people involved in SciDF is awesome! Although knowing about the association since its launch in 2016, I have not officially joined it as vice president until a few months ago. At this moment, I can already say that I am fascinated with the quality of the people involved in SciDF. I am learning fast about things that I was not familiar with and trying to bring the most of my experience to the team. SciDF gathers people from different nationalities and diverse academic and professional backgrounds that work together with enthusiasm for a common purpose.

SciDF intends to create a meeting space for science, economics and politics representatives that feel they want to take part in the decision-making process for our society to progress. We then aspire to work to transform this knowledge, the relevant conclusions, into real and visible advances. We want SciDF to be the place for people that feel they want to contribute to this goal as well as an eye-opener initiative for those who might not have considered these issues.

As vice president and with my previous experience as a volunteer in non-profit scientific organizations, I hope to engage SciDF members to work with motivation onto this new period in the association. A project of such a kind implies a high degree of commitment, coordination and cooperation between its members. I intend to work hard to keep the different teams challenged and to boost all members’ implication and creativity to think beyond what it has been done until now. I would also like to encourage new future members to join the initiative and to bring their knowledge to make the SciDF team grow.

Ryan Armstrong, treasurer

What does it offer me? First – community. In SciDF I have a group of people around me with similar interests who have served as a support and fun system during the darkest moments of the thesis. It has also opened up several interesting opportunities for collaboration!

On a deeper level, it has shown me that, no matter the topic or discipline, the general knowledge building progress—what we could call “science”—is quite similar.
Second, it offers me a way of keeping up with the conversation—in other words, a “forum”—to stay up to date on the latest trends, worries, and goings on of the local and not-so local scientific community.

What I bring:

First, years of experience working as a business analyst in the IT and HR sector. I’ve helped C-Level executives translating performance reports into action for nearly a decade. My sincere hope is that I can use that knowledge to help SciDF navigate these changing times.

Second, as a management scholar I research and develop inclusive methods to help organizations figure out what to do, how to do it, and why. I regularly collaborate with experts in the areas coaching, leadership, strategy, change management, and negotiation. I also know plenty of country songs from my native Oklahoma! I’m excited to form a part of the team and be with you.

Janire Gesto, secretary

With time, we limit ourselves to smaller circles where the jargon is more specialised, and with more and more restricted interests, we separate in different subcultures —science, economics, politics, society— that SciDF does not overlook. Since the beginning, the objectives of SciDF searched for one culture where scientists take part in all subcultures applying their methods equally without forgetting the interdisciplinary but interconnected education. Otherwise, is the new trend were to increase our knowledge about a shrinking topic, we would end up knowing everything about nothing. On these lines, volunteering in the association allows to surpass our own paralysing bedazzlement of the theoretical ramblings to access the practical sphere knowing the flavour of the different reflections —which is not at odds with moments of fun. Volunteering at SciDF moves you like a staircase that leads to a new door with the privilege of working in a project that you own, which, far from imposing, inspires and generates trust.

Scientists and jurists, as neighbour groups, keep a cautious distance. Each has their own followers, methods and goals. Each group knows little about the other’s discipline, including a component of mistrust and a feeling of superiority going both ways. Therefore, working together we prove that it is possible to tear down the traditional boundaries that divide them in favour of a social and solidary cause. I do not believe in different guilds or Sciences and Humanities. Thus in my new position as secretary in the directive board, I would like to go beyond mere administrative tasks and escape the artificial primary division between sciences and humanities that suggests that one group comes from Mars and the other from Venus.