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Natural Sciences: Global Challenges Need Interdisciplinary Scientists To Solve Them – Is Fusion A Solution To The Energy Crisis? With Professor Roddy Vann, Society For Natural Sciences

18th November 2020 @ 12:45 - 13:45



The human species is facing challenges of unprecedented reach and complexity: climate change, viral pandemic, shortage of energy, antibiotic resistance, cyber-warfare.

These problems are complex because their solution lies across the boundaries of the traditional disciplines: for example, in the current pandemic our ability to combat the virus is reliant on the software engineering of track-and-trace apps; mental health is coupled with the availability of videoconferencing tools; epidemiology is as much mathematics and biology. Even beyond this pandemic (and indeed even beyond science), our complex society needs people who can solve problems by bringing together ideas in new ways from across disciplines; this is the most important thing you get from Natural Sciences — not only expert subject knowledge but also the appreciation that different parts of science regard problems in different ways.

As a case study Roddy will consider whether fusion is a solution to the energy crisis: arguably the greatest challenge of this century is to provide sufficient energy that everyone on the planet has access to a decent standard of living. This challenge covers topics from engineering to politics. Fusion is the process that powers our Sun and indeed all stars; there is sufficient fuel on the Earth to provide everyone’s energy for thousands of years; the technology is inherently safe — but it is very difficult to do. Does it present a solution to the energy crisis?

Professor Roddy Vann is from the Department of Physics at University of York. In this session, Roddy represents the newly formed Society for Natural Sciences, a national learned society that promotes interdisciplinary science education and research.


About Natural Sciences Natural Sciences is the study of our physical world, exploring scientific and related topics without being confined by the boundaries of traditional disciplines. Natural Sciences degrees allow students to study more than one discipline at undergraduate level, combining subjects that match their own interests, enabling them to discover where their passions lie. While the specific structures of Natural Sciences programmes in the UK vary, they all provide a degree experience that encourages interdisciplinary thinking and takes students beyond discipline silos. This benefits not only graduates who choose to work in interdisciplinary areas but also brings a wider perspective to those who move into a single discipline. This seminar is sponsored by the Society for Natural Sciences and covers a typical Natural Sciences subject area: medical imaging and the contribution of interdisciplinary science to human health.


Our events are designed so that a group of students can take part from a classroom or students and teachers can take part as individuals, either from school or from home. This means that sessions will continue irrespective of possible school closures.



Lecturer Biography (Please Click): Professor Roddy Vann

Suitable for: Year 12 & 13 students studying Science, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Maths, Earth Sciences.

Preparation or Pre-Reading: There is no preparation required although students are advised to consider the subject area in advance and think about any questions they might like to ask about Fusion and the Energy Crisis, and/or Natural Sciences.

The IT Setup: The event will be run on Bluejeans and participants will be able to join using laptops, tablets, and mobile devices. If you are joining as a school group, we recommend connecting with one device and projecting on to a whiteboard. You will be able to interact with the university via a microphone and/or typed comments and questions. Full details will be sent to those who have registered (see below) prior to the event.

Booking a Place: This is free for schools and colleges. If you would like to take part in this event, please register your interest using the link to the registration form below:




18th November 2020
12:45 - 13:45
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