Scientists are motivated by many different and sometimes conflicting notions – they want to understand, explore, explain, help, cure diseases, improve lives, solve problems, invent, influence and sometimes get rich.
Scientific motivations are often framed through a perceived divide between fundamental or ‘curiosity driven’ research on the one hand and ‘applied’ research on the other. Natural Sciences at Kent houses many recent examples of both, including projects that have made new fundamental discoveries in the life sciences, quantum physics and supramolecular chemistry; as well as applied projects that have resulted in new materials, new ways of producing biopharmaceuticals, and new treatments for diseases.
The balance between fundamental and applied research has shifted strongly in the last 20 years. The UK government took the political decision to emphasise research ‘impact’, this coincided with greater pressure on academic institutions to achieve independent economic viability, and fundamental science has become increasingly costly as the frontiers of knowledge become more and more advanced.
What does all of this mean for us at Kent and the natural sciences at large? Is fundamental research now obsolete or do we risk cutting off a productive pipeline of ideas if we do not allow for it? And is a stronger focus on applications the undesirable product of an increasingly market-driven academic system, or something the public have a right to expect given that research is almost entirely tax-payer funded?
This debate will explore these questions and what the shifting balance means for research in the Natural Sciences at Kent.
**Please note this event will be filmed. Attendees consent to their filming and sound recording as members of the audience. By entering this event site you agree to being filmed or photographed which may be used by the University of Kent and KMTV for marketing and promotional purposes
Tickets are free but must be booked in advance.