MERIL at ESOF 2012

Find out more about the key role European Research Infrastructures are playing in meeting grand societal challenges.
Join MERIL/MOFRI session at ESOF 2012!

The challenges that society faces are both global and complex. To name a few examples; the prospect of doubling the current world population by 2050 and an envisaged reduction of arable land our food-systems will need to be improved to be able to feed the world in future. The increasing average age of humans brings new health risks that need to be detected, acknowledged and mitigated in order to maintain an acceptable quality of life for future generations. With an inevitable exhaustion of fossil fuels within a few generations time, there is a strong need to investigate alternative sources of energy to find the supply to the growing demands of modern society. Another challenge is how do we address the preservation of the cultural heritage, that made human beings to what they are today and will determine part of their future evolution.
If solutions to these challenges are to be found, investment in excellent interdisciplinary research is key. Research Infrastructures have been playing a central role in fostering excellent multi-disciplinary research, with examples like CERN, EMBL, ESRF and ESO. This trend is rapidly expanding into all fields of science.

MERIL session, Friday 13 July, 13:15-14:45

How do European Research Infrastructures contribute to tackling Grand Societal Challenges?

In this session, leading speakers from science and policy, who are working in the remit of the above challenges, will elaborate on:
1. Why research excellence requires excellent Research Infrastructures (RI), which not only support research but also lead its development into new directions and create an attractive environment for world-class researchers?
2. How Research Infrastructures help to overcome the dichotomies between ‘Big Science’ and ‘Small Science’ and between hypothesis-generating and hypothesis-driven approaches by making the ‘Big Science Toolbox’ accessible for all kinds of research projects.
3. How Research Infrastructures integrate research, education and innovation?  And why they are the engine that drives the development of research skills and knowledge to support EU competitiveness.
4. How can the stakeholders in European science policy and funding benefit from a comprehensive inventory of research infrastructures in their joint endeavour to contribute to the European Research Area?

Session organisers:

ESF MO Forum on Research Infrastructures (MOFRI) / Helmholtz Association / MERIL (Mapping of European Research Infracture Landscape)


  • Mr. Tim Radford, Freelance science writer (former The Guardian)
    General introduction to the objectives of the session and set up


  • Mr. Paul Beckers, Coordinator MERIL Project/ ESF Member Organisation Forum on Research Infrastructures (MOFRI)
    Welcome address; Embedding of the session in MOFRI/ MERIL activities
  • Prof. Martin Hrabé de Angelis, Director of the Institute for Experimental Genetics, Helmholtz Centre Munich
    Views from the bio-medical sciences
  • Prof. Milena Žic-Fuchs, Chair of the ESF Standing Committee for the Humanities; Professor in Linguistics at the University of Zagreb
    Views from the Humanities science base
  • Prof. Pär Omling, President of the European Science Foundation (ESF)/ Vice-President of Science Europe (former President of the Swedish Research Council)
    Views from the national and European science policy and funding perspective

All speakers/ moderator confirmed their participation.

The MERIL project is supported by the European Commission under Framework Programme 7 - Contract # 262159.