Science: Polish Perspectives (SPP) is a series of events connecting Polish scientific diaspora all over the world. Since 2012, every autumn a growing crowd of the brightest young Polish minds is gathering in Oxford or Cambridge to talk about their research in all disciplines. This year we are not only meeting at the SPP2017 in Cambridge but also expanding the meetings outside of the UK: keeping the SPP Conference as our main event, we've started to organise smaller satellite events called SPP Meetups. In 2017 we have already met in Stockholm and Delft and we can't wait for so far the biggest one of the series - the SPP Meetup Berlin.
Participants come from all disciplines, ranging from quantum information theory to sociology. What unites them is the quality of their research and eagerness to share it in an understandable way. The TED-style short presentations, the SPP Review by Getty Science, and plenty of discussion time during coffee breaks help to share knowledge across disciplines.
Keynotes, discussion panels on pertinent topics, scientific talks and posters - from beginning to end, the conference encourages meetings of distinguished professors with promising young students, mathematicians with sociologists, researchers from industry with those from Academia.
Science & Industry
We are proud to host a number of industry Partners each year. Through workshops, stands, and on-stage presentations we bridge the gap between academia and business. SPP allows companies to build their brand presence among the promising young students and researchers by showcasing the research and development activities conducted in Poland and elsewhere.
The story behind SPP
From a simple idea to the largest event of its own type, Science: Polish Perspectives (SPP) has come a long way. Throughout the years SPP conferences have hosted hundreds hours of talks, poster sessions and workshops for nearly thousand researchers at various stages of academic careers. Most importantly, however, it has set up a platform on which researchers can communicate, collaborate and first and foremost, celebrate, science.
It all started from small informal meetings called Polish Science Cafe at the University of Cambridge where Polish academics were gathering to share their research with each other. Seeing a growing interest in such events from the community, Krzysztof Bar, Tomasz Cebo and Magda Richter, decided to bring this idea to the next level. First edition of SPP after months of hard, pioneering work was put to fruition in Oxford in October 2012 and was co-organised by Oxford University Polish Society, Cambridge University Polish Society and the LSE Polish Business Society. SPP2012 hosted almost 150 participants and world-class speakers including: Prof. Kwiatkowska (Oxford), Prof. Zernicka-Getz (Cambridge), Prof. Horodecki (Gdansk), Prof. Glowacki (Cambridge), as well as many great presentations from postgraduate students. SPP 2012 received a lot of attention from the media (Polish Press Agency, Gazeta Wyborcza, Radio Zet as well as some online publications: Nature, Onet.pl) and managed to acquire an impressive number of patrons and partners including: Polish Embassy in London, Boston Consulting Group, Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, Foundation for Polish Science. Indeed, since 2012 autumn has become the special place in calendars and agendas of many Polish scientists working abroad, especially in the United Kingdom, as they set aside spare time to make sure they do not miss the annual event.
In 2013 the Conference has moved to Cambridge, starting a precedent of exchanging location between these two venerable instiutions, which instantly became the tradition and was kept since. The bar for expectations, after the tremendously successful debut, was set high by the leadership duo of Tomasz Cebo and Magdalena Richter. Nonetheless, the conference guests were treated to not only popular science-style talks and poster presentations, but also to an series of workshops and an opening speech by Ambassador Witold Sobków, all hosted in the oldest college of the Cambridge University - over 700 years old Peterhouse College. Two November days were filled with fascinating presentations from both students and distinguished professors: Professor Maciej Konacki delivered a highly engaging talk about the Solaris project, using an X-box Kinect to detect his moves and navigate through the presentation, Professor Maciej Żylicz talked about chaperons – specialized guardians within our cells and Professor Baranowski shed some light on the properties of graphene. A lot of insightful ideas and informed opinions were shared during three panel discussions, which touched on the topics of Polish science specialisation, commercialisation and development.
Back to where it all begun, in Oxford, the 2014 conference has by then established its' own brand and formula - a platform for presenting research, by scientists for scientists, yet by specialists for non-specialists. This constant popular science focus, critical for bringing the community together, was coupled with a constant push towards fresh ideas and novel activities. That squeezed into the always too busy agenda, is what has always made the conference so unique, and continues to do so until this day. This year, the SPP team led by Piotr Oleśkiewicz and Maciej Halbryt was for the first time recruited from volunteers from universities other than Oxford, Cambridge and LSE, and this tradition countinues ever since. The keynote speakers of SPP2014 included Templeton Prize winner Ks. Prof. Michał Heller (Cosmology), Prof. Adam Babiński (Physics), Prof. Janusz Bujnicki (Bioinformatics), and Prof. Lech Mankiewicz (Astronomy). We were also very proud to host, together with the Oxford University Physics Society, an Open Lecture delivered by Prof. Agnieszka Zalewska - President of the CERN Council.
With a fresh leadership perspective of Karolina Mirowska (Southampton University), yet another edition of SPP met the high set bar of SPP community's expectations. The SPP2015 has started with an Open Lecture on the futures of GMO, delivered by Prof. Jerzy Paszkowski and Sir Prof. David Baulcombe. They were later joined by other distingueshed guests such as Prof. Jerzy Vetulani (Neurobiology) and Prof. Wiesław Nowiński (Biomedical Imaging). We have also had pleasure to host over 30 presentations from young Polish scientists from all over the Europe. Many thoughts were shared during two panel discussions, which touched on the topics of scientific career pathways and the role of science in patriotism. For the workshops session, the organising team joined forces with Steve Cross, BCG, IFLS and the Society for Experimental Biology, which transfromed into four unique workshops on skills such as scientific writing or solving business case studies. With the SPP Family grown by over 200 members, the team could not be more excited for the next year's edition.
Since SPP2012 many of our guests have started collaborations and friendships during the sessions or coffee breaks; all members of SPP have left with valuable skillset, which many of them have applied in the events that followed. This tradition, combined with a feeling that SPP is has become way more than just an annual event, led a group of former SPP team members to establishing the Polonium Foundation. Indeed, 2016 opened a new chapter in the history of the conference. The biggest edition so far, hosting around 220 guests, proves beyond doubt that good ideas can come a long way if backed by hard work. Led by Agata Misiaszek, the team put up an event filled with over forty presentations on topics ranging from sociology to quantum physics. Keynote speeches were delivered by Dr Gosia Trynka (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), Artur Chmielewski (NASA), Prof. Mariusz Ratajczak (University of Lousiville) and Prof. Janusz Lewiński (Warsaw University of Technology). The agenda of SPP2016 was topped up with vivid panel discussions on technology transfer and the future of science after Brexit, and three insightful workshops.
This idea - our idea - was that an independent group of young academics with little prior experience and no public funding promised can organise such unique conference in one of the oldest academic institutions in the world. Time has shown it to be much more than that - the conference has grown into one of the most recognisable, memorable and straight up life-changing events of every year.
So here we are. For the sixth edition of the SPP Conference we are moving SPP back to Cambridge, where at the St. John's College we will host over 250 bright scientific minds. The SPP2017 team is as busy putting up the biggest SPP ever, as excited to meet you all there in November! Check out the SPP2017 website for more information, don't forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our newsletter below so you don't miss any future SPP events and updates.