Five events not to be missed at the World Congress of Latvian Scientists
In June 2023, Latvian scientists from all over the world will gather in Riga to attend the 5th World Congress of Latvian Scientists and take part in discussions about global challenges, possible solutions and to celebrate the achievements of Latvian science and its practitioners. This article summarises some of the events worth attending during the Congress. However, this is not nearly the whole programme – there will also be many other discussions and talks. You can study the complete event programme in the Congress homepage section: Agenda.
Science Slam – the final of a competition showcasing scientific studies that anybody can understand
Science Slam is a popular format at various science events and gives a number of scientists, who have survived a qualifying competition, the opportunity to present their study. Typically, the goal of the competition is to introduce the public to the studies and scientific work in an easy to understand, interesting and engaging way. The scientist gives a presentation in public that is limited in terms of format and time – he's given 400 seconds or six minutes and 40 seconds. The content of the presentation must be connected to the study, which the participant is developing or in whose development the participant has been involved in.
On stage in the Science Slam presentation competition final, which will take place as part of the 5th World Congress or Latvian Scientists, will be eight scientists who have survived the qualifying competition. The winning subjects include:
- a study of spiders in swamps, using remote sensing and machine learning methods;
- plant fingerprints – the key to determining true identity;
- new luminescent nanomaterials not containing rare earth ions for use in biosensors.
The present of the audience is extremely important, because the audience vote could decide the outcome of the competition – it will the sixth jury member's vote, which will be counted together with the grades from the other five jury members. The final of the Science Slam presentation competition will take place on 28 June at 17.00 in the Ziedonis Hall.
How can to put satellite data to use in business? Baltic Copernicus Day
The European Union (EU) has several satellites linked to the EU Earth observation programme Copernicus and the Galileo satellite navigation system. During this event, an individual day will be devoted to the Copernicus programme. Copernicus provides images of the Earth's surface, regularly taken from space by advance satellite cameras. Analysing such data, information can be obtained that is not visible to the naked eye, and which can then be used for monitoring large areas. Changes in the state of land, grass, water and even air can be observed quickly and precisely.
The target audience of Baltic Copernicus Day is comprised of businesses and organizations in the Baltic States that could potentially use satellite data in their industries. The central event will be a seminar on 27 June from 9.30 to 16.30, which will share current and practical information about this earth observation programme. Among those taking part in the seminar will be representatives of the European Commission, European Union Agency for the Space Programme, and the European Union Copernicus Office. Earth observation solution developers will also be on hand to give practical examples of how they successfully use this data. In turn, the Earth Observation Practical Seminar will take place on 29 June.
Showcasing Latvia's offering for the space industry
The output of the Latvian space industry will also be on display at the 5th World Congress of Latvian Scientists. On 29 June from 10.00 to 12.00, during a separate event in Hall IV of the National Library of Latvia Conference Centre, demonstrations of Latvian space technology will be on view. For example, at the Student Innovation Grants' Demo Day organized by the Riga Technical University (RTU) Science and Innovation Centre, the winner acclaimed for developing the most innovative solution was the "Space" Team, also known as the RTU High Power Rocketry Team, which is not only perfecting a high-power rocket, but planning something new in the form of a rocket launch from a stratospheric balloon. The event will showcase the team's accomplishments in practice. Latvia also has a microchip offering – RD Alfa Microelectronics will demonstrate its integrated microchips, which are ideally suited for the space industry.
In turn, the start-up SIA Eventech, which was founded within the framework of the Commercialization Reactor acceleration fund and has been growing successfully for the past few years, will showcase time measurement devices that can measure the time with extreme precision: with a precision of a two picosecond or 0.000000000002 of a second. Timers manufactured by this Latvian start-up are used by 70% of the stations on Earth to observe the precise position of satellites in space. Eventech is also responsible for ensuring Latvia's participation in the international Earth defence mission Hera, whose goal is to try to change the trajectory of the asteroid to ensure the defence of the Earth in future. It is planned that Mission Hera complete with the Eventech system will be launched into space in 2024. More information about demonstration of Latvia's space technologies can be found here.
This year, the 5th World Congress of Latvian Scientists will also focus on educational technologies and the performance of universities in the realm of digitalization. A number of private businesses will also present their products.
Tilde is the leading artificial intelligence (AI) technology company in the Baltics, which provides AI solutions for Latvian and other European languages. During the congress, among the technologies presented by Tilde will be the company's AI solutions developed in collaboration with education and science partners in Latvia and Europe including virtual assistants in education and science, speech recognition technologies in medicine, specialized machine translation systems for academic work, a national terminology platform, data anonymization system and other solutions. Meanwhile, Baltic Satellite Service will showcase various applications of satellite technology solutions in forest clearing, windstorm, fire, flood and other topical data applications in which machine learning models are used to analyse satellite data.
Among the selection of university-developed digital solutions on view, one definitely worth a closer look is the mobile app EMORI, which enables users to intervene in solving emotional difficulties. It was developed as a collaborative project between students representing three Latvian universities. The idea and content of the app were developed by graduate students from Riga Stradiņš University, whereas the design was created by students from the Art Academy of Latvia, and the prototype was programmed by a student from Ventspils University. Meanwhile, RTU will demonstrate a portable device for diagnosis of non-melanoma skin cancer. The device conducts multispectral skin analysis using five types of illumination: infrared, red, green, blue (>404 nm) and white. All the resultant information is sent to the cloud system in encrypted form using wireless technology.
Visitors to the congress will also have the chance to get an interesting insight into the process of digitalizing Latvian education. For example, as part of the Digital Accelerator of Latvia project, and inspired by the European Schoolnet's Future Classroom Lab environment, the Future Classroom technology demonstration room is available to educational technology developers at Ventspils High Technology Park. Regular visitors to it include schoolchildren, representatives of schools and municipalities, as well as Latvian policy makers. It gives developers the opportunity to try out and demonstrate their solutions in a real classroom environment. More information about this project will be available at the 5th World Congress of Latvian Scientists.
Also present at the congress will be representatives from the Latvian University of Life Sciences and Technologies Faculty of Information Technology, where a virtual and mixed environment laboratory was opened in 2022. In the laboratory, in the course of the learning process, students learn the elements and development principles of the virtual environment, and create prototypes for training or educational projects for various industries. Through the use of prototypes and simulations created in a virtual environment, this technology can help to reduce costs and risks, while at the same time facilitating the learning of new skills and knowledge without the necessity to physically touch expensive and dangerous equipment. The demonstration will present works created by university students, thus sharing students' new and innovative ideas in the application of virtual reality.
Congress attendees interested in works of science will have the chance to listen to 200 presentations. Such will be the range of subject on offer that there is bound to something of interest to everyone. The presentation schedule can be viewed here. However, if you don't have any priority topics, here are some presentations that could inspire you:
- Dina Popluga – "The innovation ecosystem as a major driving force for the development of higher education institutions". One of this study's objectives is to present and analyse the existing innovation ecosystems at Nordic and Baltic universities. Research activities included mapping the existing innovation ecosystems at five Nordic Baltic higher education institutions. The study highlights best practice in strengthening innovation capacity at higher educational institutions, and discusses potential improvements to create better and more integrated innovation capacity and support systems.
- Maija Dambrova – "Meldonium: the most effective medicine created in Latvia". The best-known and exportable product of Latvian pharmaceutical and organic chemistry science is the heart disease medicine meldonium. Globally, meldonium is often mentioned as a doping agent in sports, whereas in Latvia it is known as a "secret weapon" that can save lives in the battle against cardiometabolic diseases and complications from Covid-19. Over 10 doctoral dissertations have been defended on subjects related to meldonium, and papers published by Latvian scientists comprise 20% of internationally cited publications on meldonium. The latest research into the role of acylcarnitines is gaining increasing international recognition and inspiring the development of new therapies and diagnostic options in the future, making Latvian science renowned around the globe.
- Signe Mežinska – "Responsible open science – ethical problems and their solutions". In this talk, the authors will present the results of the EU Horizon programme project Responsible Open Science in Europe – ROSiE. The open science approach can make science more efficient and transparent, nurture a closer connection between science and societal needs, and facilitate the active participation of amateur scientists in scientific processes. At the same time, the open science approach gives rise to new questions about research ethics, integrity in research and violations of research ethics. Open science can reduce some of the risks in the context of research ethics and integrity, e.g. by heightening transparency and making data more accessible. However, open science can also compound existing or create new risks to research ethics and integrity related to data availability, the rights of research participants, involvement of amateur scientists, authorship, and global justice, etc.
The article was written within ERDF project No. 18.104.22.168/17/I/002 "Integrated national measures to strengthen the representation of Latvian R&D interests in the European Research Area"