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27.10.2012 in Research Bookmark and Share

Special lecture looks at the important role of fundamental research in advancing discoveries

In recent years, research has increasingly experienced pressure to justify itself, a phenomenon that is especially true for “fundamental” or “basic” research.

The important role of basic research for society and how it is funded are at the heart of a special lecture titled, "Funding Basic Research, Promoting Excellence, and Building Trust", which will be delivered at York University by Professor Helmut Schwarz, the president of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and a leading international researcher in the field of molecular chemistry. This special lecture will be presented Oct. 31, from 3 to 4pm in the Senate Chamber, 940 North Ross Building.

Helmut Schwarz Helmut Schwarz 

Schwarz will argue that publicly financed, fundamental research is neither a luxury nor a subsidy, but a cultural achievement and, as such, marks the starting point of every single value-added chain. In his comments, Schwarz will also reflect on the funding principles and core mission of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation – the funding of individuals rather than projects, the emphasis on individual excellence and academic freedom. He will argue that more campaigning on behalf of the individual researcher is needed to support genuinely high-risk endeavors that are necessary for groundbreaking research.

Schwarz holds a research chair in organic chemistry at the Technische Universität Berlin.

Schwarz’s visit also marks the 10th anniversary of the opening of York’s Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry laboratory space on the second floor of the Chemisty Building, which he helped to celebrate 10 years ago at York.  A private roundtable discussion will be held in honour of this event and attended by Schwarz and the Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany Sabine Sparwasser.

York’s Centre for Research in Mass Spectrometry promotes and organizes research collaboration with other universities, hospitals, government institutes, such as Environment Canada, Ontario Centre of Excellence INC, ISTPCanada Incorporated, and the Ontario Ministry of the Environment (OME), and industries, such as AB SCIEX, YESBiotech  and Concept 2 Clinic. Research in mass spectrometry has become an increasingly important and multi-disciplinary scientific activity world-wide.

“York is delighted to host  Professor Helmut Schwarz, President of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Institut für Chemie, Technische Universität Berlin and pleased that Sabine Sparwasser, consul general of the Federal Republic of Germany will also be joining us at this visit to mark this special occasion,” said Robert Haché, vice-president research & Innovation. “We look forward to the continued development of collaborative research initiatives and to strengthening the ties between York University and research institutions in Germany.”

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grants research fellowships and research awards to researchers from around the world, allowing them to conduct research with collaborative partners in Germany. All researchers sponsored by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation become life-long members of the international “Humboldt Network”. Support from the foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Humboldt Network numbers more than 25,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in over 130 countries worldwide - including 49 Nobel Laureates.

This lecture is sponsored by the Office of the Vice-President Research & Innovation and the Faculty of Science & Engineering. It is free and open to University community members. Seating is limited, so arrive early to avoid disappointment.

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