Open Science: Good for scientists, good for society

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Open Science: Good for scientists, good for society

Today sees the World Science Day for Peace and Development 2019 take place at UNESCO World Headquarters, Paris.

Inaugurated in 2001, the annual celebration aims to highlight the vital role of science in societal development and the importance of bringing conversations about contemporary scientific issues to a general audience.

If we are to secure a sustainable future for society and our planet, one resource matters more than any other: knowledge. That is why the theme of this year’s event is “Open Science, leaving no one behind”. Through Open Science, the valuable knowledge discovered by gifted scientists around the world will be made more widely accessible, enabling equally gifted entrepreneurs, inventors and engineers to create the sustainable solutions we need. And by ensuring that the only requirements for entering science are interest and ability rather than gender or race, we will ensure the strongest possible pipeline of intellectual talent.

Through Fondation Lombard Odier, we live this understanding by extending financial support to scientists and scientific organisations working on some of today’s most important issues. For instance, our partnership with L’Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the Fondation Lombard Odier EPFL venture fund enables the university to instigate, finance and develop ambitious strategic initiatives without the need to wait for external funding. And our partnership with CERN has provided financial support to six particle physics PhD students to join the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

By ensuring that the only requirements for entering science are interest and ability rather than gender or race, we will ensure the strongest possible pipeline of intellectual talent.

Pursuing a passion

Dr Tara Nanut, a particle physicist working at EPFL and CERN, recently visited Lombard Odier to talk about her work and how she got to where she is today. Her story highlights the importance of making truly Open Science a reality.

As a young girl, Dr Nanut yearned to understand the fundamental laws of the universe. But, as she revealed during her talk, being born in a Slovenian village with a population of fewer than 500 people made that dream especially difficult to achieve. “Slovenia is a country of two million people,” said Dr Nanut. “That often means that you want to do something, but there aren’t enough other people who want to do the same. If you want to study physics, there’s one faculty in the entire country where you can do that. There has been only one professor of quantum physics for the last ten years for everybody in the country. That makes it hard to get anywhere.”

And yet, Dr Nanut succeeded in becoming a particle physicist. Today, she works as part of the team at the LHC ( in the LHCb experiment), a machine that smashes particles together at close to the speed of light to discover hitherto unknown constituents of matter and unravel the deepest mysteries of the Universe.

Such a profound mission requires a team to match—one that exemplifies the benefits of Open Science. “To operate a machine like this and analyse the data it produces, you need a thousand different things to work together,” said Dr Nanut. “You really get a feeling that you work with all of the people involved in the collaboration. It matters that you’re well integrated, and that you have good relations. It’s really the work of one big family.”

To operate a machine like this and analyse the data it produces, you need a thousand different things to work together

That such a team exists, and that Dr Nanut has achieved such success in a male-dominated field, is testament to the significant progress we’ve made towards the Open Science ideal. But, as Dr Nanut pointed out, there is still work to be done to ensure that, always and everywhere, only one’s interest and ability matter when it comes to pursuing a scientific career.

In particular, Dr Nanut highlighted that, in some contexts, gender can still represent a barrier to progress. “In particle physics, you get jobs mostly through recommendation letters,” Dr Nanut told us. “How strong your recommendation letter is depends not just on your work, but also the kind of relationship you have with your supervisor. And here, our male colleagues have an advantage. They can say to their [usually male] supervisors, ‘hey, do you want to go for a beer after work to discuss this?’ As females, we don’t feel so comfortable doing that. And this is a mechanism for advancement we are losing out on.”

How strong your recommendation letter is depends not just on your work, but also the kind of relationship you have with your supervisor. And here, our male colleagues have an advantage.

Wichtige Hinweise.

Die vorliegende Marketingmitteilung wurde von der Bank Lombard Odier & Co AG oder einer Geschäftseinheit der Gruppe (nachstehend “Lombard Odier”) herausgegeben. Sie ist weder für die Abgabe, Veröffentlichung oder Verwendung in Rechtsordnungen bestimmt, in denen eine solche Abgabe, Veröffentlichung oder Verwendung rechtswidrig wäre, noch richtet sie sich an Personen oder Rechtsstrukturen, an die eine entsprechende Abgabe rechtswidrig wäre.

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