This summer, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Makassar, Indonesia to attend the US-Indonesia Kavli Frontiers of Science Forum. This conference is unique in that it features U.S., Australian, and Indonesian scientists from diverse disciplines. So for example, you might -purely hypothetically *cough*- be giving a talk on coral microbes, and get some really interesting questions about microbial metabolism and detecting alien life in (very) remote sensing data from Jason Rhodes, from NASA’s Jet Propulsion laboratory. I found it to be a very refreshing chance to interact with a broader range of scientists than I might normally.
The conference also had an element of diplomacy to it – it is one of several scientific exchange programs initiated to follow through on the commitments laid out in Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech, which called for greater cultural and scientific exchange with predominantly muslim countries.
Certainly our hosts were incredibly kind and generous, and the folks I interacted with both off and on the conference site were very welcoming. It was great to meet Jamaluddin Jompa, who was the first Indonesian scientist to give a keynote at the International Coral Reef Symposium, and many young Indonesian scientists. I also found Bahasa Indonesia to be an incredibly fun and approachable language – though unfortunately I don’t think there will be many opportunities to practice it around here. My fledgling attempts were enough to egg Mónica Medina into including a short paragraph in Indonesian in here opening statement- so I’ll count that as a win.
In any case, I’m revisiting this older trip because the conference has recently posted video from all of the talks. These are all intended for a broad audience, and are generally quite approachable. Be warned, they have archives going back several years, and its pretty easy to burn an afternoon checking them out.
My talk on coral microbiomes focused on a long-term field experiment studying the effects of nutrient pollution and overfishing on corals and their microbes in the Florida Keys (Vega Thurber and Burkepile labs), and the Global Coral Microbiome Project, which seeks to characterize the microbial diversity of evolutionarily diverse corals from many sites around the globe (Vega Thurber and Medina labs – with help and collaboration from many, many others).
Kim Ritchie’s intro on benefical microbes in the ocean is here:
A menu with all the talks can be found on the Kavli Website [link]. I would particularly recommend the talks by Vikram Ravi on supermassive black hole evolution; Christopher Mores on his experiences running an Ebola clinic; Maxime Aubert on the discovery of the oldest dated cave paintings in Indonesia; and Enid Montague on developing apps to improve hospital visits. Kiki Vierdayanti also gave a very interesting talk on x-ray emissions from black holes, with some interesting comments on what its like doing astrophysics as an Indonesian researcher.
Enjoy the videos, and if you ever have the chance to attend one of these I would strongly encourage it.