Spring 2019 SMB Newsletter: Editorial; Dr Kit Yates

A report on the Royal Society bilateral international meeting held at Chicheley Hall 20/02/19-21/02/19

By Dr. Kit Yates, University of Bath, UK

Bilateral international meetingsare multidisciplinary meetings, designed to bring together early career scientists and senior scientists in an environment which encourages informal networking and discussion, and to explore opportunities for international and cross-disciplinary collaborations. The two nations from whose institutions participants at this BIM were drawn were the UK and France. At a time when the UK’s relationship with the European Union is becoming ever-more strained, such an bridge-building international meeting is of vital importance to reaffirm our common goals and to reinforce the our conviction that science should be without borders. This BIM aimed to provide established scientists in the fields of supercomputing in the physical sciences and biomathematics the opportunity to meet and liaise with their peers.

Most participants arrived at the grand, and somewhat imposing, Chicheley Hall in Berkshire, UK, on the Tuesday evening. We were greeted warmly and treated to a buffet meal with fellow participants, at which vigorous scientific discussions that would continue throughout the two day meeting were to be heard.

Early the next morning we were treated to a supercomputing plenary talk, by the aptly-named Sebastian Candel on the modelling of flame dynamics, before the supercomputing and biomathematics groups split up for their separate parallel sessions (parallelism being amongst the supercomputing fraternity’s specialisms). Highlights of the first day included Robin Thompson’s talk on the implications of cross-immunity for the risk of a global pandemic, which resonated nicely with Julia Gog’s subsequent discussion of her work on the BBC Pandemic television documentary. As well as providing fantastic publicity and exposure for the biomathematics epidemiology community, the documentary also generated an extremely comprehensive and unique social interaction data set which will soon be made freely-available. After the final talks, we moved on to a well-lubricated poster session, which segued neatly into the conference dinner, at which more fascinating science (and important football) discussions were had.

The following morning, Philip Maini, one of the organisers of the meeting, began the talks with the biomathematics plenary talk, reviewing just a small part of his extensive portfolio of work on developmental biology and cancer. In the biomathematics strand of the parallel sessions we were treated to Matt Keeling outlining the modelling behind the UK’s Joint Committee Vaccination and Immunisation’s recent decision to offer the human papilloma virus vaccination to boy as well as girls. Mark Chaplain took us on a journey through over 20 years of hybrid continuum-cellular automaton modelling for cancer. Linus Schumacher discussed his work on modelling C. Elegans collective behaviour and Lorenzo Pellis took us through his recent work in the area of epidemiology.

The meeting finished with a cooperation-affirming summary, which left all the participants to travel home with a feeling of stronger scientific ties between our two nations.


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