The Scientific Committee for Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences
The Committee informs and supports Science Europe on science policy activities related to Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Material Sciences. It comprises 15 highly-authoritative European academics representing a wide range of natural sciences disciplines; it is chaired by Professor Bengt Norden who is Professor of Physical Chemistry at Chalmers University (Göteborg, Sweden).
The Committee meets two to three times a year to set priorities and plan activities. It is supported in its work by Science Europe Research Affairs Team, through the Head of Research Affairs and a dedicated Senior Scientific Officer.
The remit of the Committee includes:
- Providing expert opinions on relevant European policies impacting research in the Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Material Sciences (‘Opinion Papers’);
- Providing independent scientific advice and support for Science Europe’s policy activities, including support for policy statements to the European Institutions and national governments (‘Position Statements’);
- Participating in ‘horizon scanning’ and monitoring new emerging developments in the Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Material Sciences, in order to provide timely advice to Science Europe Member Organisations and other relevant stakeholders.
Some of the Committee’s 2013-2014 priorities in terms of European policy topics include:
- Convergence in Science: trans-disciplinarity is currently promoted through a top-down approach. Horizon 2020 and its societal challenges are an example of a political will to make scientific disciplines converge around challenges. The Committee aims to address this topic from a policy angle: is Europe well prepared at all levels (policy makers, research funders, research performers) to support efficient policies promoting convergence? Is convergence of sciences and disciplines the key to promoting new innovations?
- Nanomedicine: nanotechnology is starting to deeply transform material sciences, and promises to transform domains like energy or Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). However, the domain that can benefit the most from nanotechnologies might be health sciences. As materials are created and developed to interact with biochemical processes, expectations to cure diseases like cancers or to improve detection mechanisms and imagery are rising. In order to promote nanomedicine at the European and national levels, the Committee is reviewing the Nanomedicine 2020 White Paper published by the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine.
- Resources depletion: the Committee is addressing the issue of depletion of ores and energy resources worldwide, and how energy sources are used in industry and society. There is a need to develop and promote a common framework and consensus on the way that energy dissipation and energy conversion is measured worldwide using tools provided by the advances in thermodynamics.
- Research Integrity: in light of the internet, large data production and easy access to research results, ‘Research Integrity’ has grown as an important concern among scientists, given the need to ensure high quality research standards. Maintaining those standards and making sure that young researchers are taking them into account are crucial. Science Europe has a Working Group dedicated to this issue and the Committee will provide relevant input from its scientific community.
- Brain Circulation versus Brain Drain in Europe: accesses to research infrastructures, to positions in academia or to funding opportunities vary across European countries. The Committee is addressing this transversal issue in order to reduce the research and innovation divide between different regions in Europe, and promote ‘Brain Circulation’ rather than ‘Brain Drain’ between the different regions of Europe.
The Committee recently set up five task forces to follow each of these themes.