Hollywood has a clear answer to the question of what makes good science: It is about the scientific work of smart researchers, who together save the world or mankind at the last moment thanks to a clever idea. Action-packed and full of suspense, the team works under high pressure to develop the saving solution. Loosely based on a German nursery rhyme, science can also deal with seemingly more trivial issues: “Die Wissenschaft hat festgestellt, festgestellt, festgestellt, dass Marmelade Fett enthält, Fett enthält…” (Science has determined, that jam contains fat…). But who is right? Is science only valuable when huge challenges are met with a big bang, or is the solution of everyday tasks also important?
Both are correct! Science and research that addresses both the grand challenges of humankind (without the Hollywood action part, of course) and the small issues of everyday life is valuable. But „good“ science includes many more components.
Well-done science keeps an eye on the big picture and does not exclude anyone. It wants to change, improve and develop. It is about expanding people’s knowledge and sharing it across national and cultural boundaries. Science connects and builds bridges. True to the motto ” We are stronger together”, many scientific issues can be solved much more effectively in an international team. Different perspectives on the same problem, for example, can lead to numerous new approaches to solving it.
Moreover, when it comes to some very big societal challenges, we literally sit in the same boat. For example, the climate crisis affects everyone around the globe, and the impact is noticeable worldwide. So doesn’t it make sense for science and research to rely on international cooperations in this context? The answer is definitely “YES”.
In Jülich, scientists are researching and working to find answers to some of the big questions of our century. To ensure that science also produces a useful output, collaboration with global partners is an important element of the scientific projects. For example, researchers from Jülich and Africa are jointly exploring the potential of the African continent for the production of green hydrogen. The H2Atlas-Africa project relies on close cooperation between the two countries and direct exchange. The prime objective is to supply the African population with sufficient green electricity. However, the export of green hydrogen and the training of local specialists are also important aspects. The energy of the future is indeed the subject of numerous international projects, such as the German-Canadian Materials Acceleration Centre (GC-MAC). In this project, Jülich scientists are working with Canadian partners to research energy materials.
However, cooperations with international partners can be organized in a variety of ways and address very different research topics. The strategic partnership “Umbrella“, for example, brings together three institutions. In addition to Forschungszentrum Jülich, the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and RWTH Aachen University are involved. The cooperation within Umbrella is more than just a topic-based project, it aims to “improve the exchange in science and technology”. Among other things, the cooperation focuses on the training of young scientists. The annual Umbrella Symposium is a fantastic example of how exchange between countries and institutions can succeed. In May 2021, the participating scientists met for an online symposium. Under the title “Life Science and Engineering: Data Analytics, Neuroscience and Multiscale Biomedical Engineering” different sessions, talks and presentations took place. The event was rounded off by the awarding of the “Umbrella Awards” to three outstanding young scientists and the research presentations of the winners.
In all partnerships, collaborations and cooperations, it is central that both sides exchange ideas and benefit from each other.