Recent public lectures

Before you know it, the summer is already half way over! Although it’s another year where international travels are largely restricted, thanks to Zoom, VooV, Cisco and Teams (I’m sure I’m forgetting some other apps!), boisterous conversations are always a click away – minus the local beers and dubious quality conference coffees.

I gave a few invited talks over the past few weeks. Two were particularly interesting (for different reasons, obviously). One was a lecture on science diplomacy with China I gave to the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD.

It was wonderful to have many DAAD’s regional heads at the talk and to discuss actual concerns and challenges in funding scientific partnerships. But another highlight of this event was actually behind the scene. That is, in leading up to this talk, Jan Kercher, the organiser of this event and I had a number of interesting email exchanges on the latest media reports regarding China’s science and Chinese scientists. So the event was just over an hour, but it felt more like a summary of a much longer conversation over two or almost three months? Hopefully that conversation will continue.

Another thing to note is that I forgot to say thank you to the DAAD during my talk, as one of my most brilliant UG student got a scholarship from them a few years ago upon graduation!

A second event was an ultra long lecture I gave on synthetic biology and governance. It’s an overview of bioethical issues relating to synbio and how have related governing discourses have shifted globally. So it was almost a 2 hour monologue.

But I did something cool for this lecture: At the very end, I did an iPad doodle to summarise key points–

It’s a sketch centred on the lab photo of JCVI- syn1.0, with visual reference to Magritte/Foucault, and ‘the mirror images’ to Raoul Hausmann’s ‘The Spirit of Our Time’ and the hands of Plato and Aristotle in the School of Athens. Each visual reference was related to a point on governance I was making in the talk. If this lecture was not given online, I’m not sure I would have thought of doodling on my iPad! Anyway, I was quite pleased to do something spontaneous and fun.

A lovely PhD student later contacted me ‘complaining’ the lecture ended too soon, as evidenced by her incomplete lecture note, ha!

It’s neat to have a busy summer all contained in my 13inch laptop screen. But I still secretly miss those bad hotel coffees and jet-lags!

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