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Life Sciences: A Solution to Pollution

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To mark EU Green Week 2021, EMBL staff and alumni make the case for the life sciences as a key vessel for achieving zero pollution.

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Life Sciences: A Solution to Pollution | Monday 31 May, 14:00-16:00 hrs CET

14:00-14:05 : Welcome by masters of ceremonies

Erin Tranfield and Julius Brennecke

14:05-14:10 : Opening address: What is EMBL and how can we contribute to zero pollution?

By EMBL’s Director General - Edith Heard

For almost 50 years, researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) have been unlocking the fundamental secrets of life at a molecular level. With new advances in understanding and technology, we are now expanding our research, and studying molecular life in the context of its environment. Moving out of the sterile test tube and petri dish and into the oceans and rivers where life exists. In this opening address, the EMBL Director General will describe the role EMBL is playing through its exciting research and ambitious sustainability plans to achieve a zero pollution Europe.

14:10-15:00 : Session 1: Showing the pollution we can’t see

Smog, litter and oil spills - all pollution of the natural world and all very visible. But what about pollution that is so small we can't see it or that is hidden from our view? In this session, EMBL researchers share ocean and land projects which bring a better understanding of pollution and its impact. The participants will be invited to engage in discussion with EMBL scientists.

15:00-15:05: Intermission

15:05-15:55: Session 2: Our responsibility in creating change

All sectors of society have to actively pursue more sustainable behaviour if the EU’s zero pollution ambition is to be achieved. In this interactive session with questions from the audience, we bring together representatives from research, industry and the city to explore how we can support each other in creating change. We will showcase efforts in sustainability, research and environmentally-conscious urban planning in the reduction of carbon emission by EMBL as a life science research institute, a leading representative from industry, and a senior local government representative of Germany.

15:55-16:00: What next?

A summary of key outcomes from today’s discussion, plus links to further information on EMBL regarding this topic.

***Additional virtual educational pack (videos on demand): EMBL’s virtual educational pack for children invites you and your children (5-9 years old) to learn more about ‘how plastic ends up in our oceans,’ ‘how currents work’ and ‘what happens to the plastic in the ocean’ by doing your own fun experiments at home. In short video clips, EMBL scientists will guide you through simple hands-on experiments with easy follow-along instructions. You will also have the opportunity to explore how scientists at EMBL are using X-rays to take a closer look at very small plastic particles in the oceans and join scientists and other children in finding ways to contribute to reducing the danger of plastic in the ocean.

About the masters of ceremonies and speakers

Erin Tranfield , Head of Electron Microscopy Facility, Oeiras, Portugal

Julius Brennecke, Group Leader, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA), Vienna, Austria

Edith Heard, Director General, EMBL

Melissa Graewert, Senior Technical Officer, EMBL Hamburg

Detlev Arendt, Group Leader and Senior Scientist, EMBL Heidelberg

Matthias Hentze, Director, EMBL Heidelberg

Brendan Rouse, Environmental Officer, EMBL Heidelberg

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