Introducing the next generation to the Science of Energy and Sustainability

By . Published on 27 September 2016 in:
News, September 2016, , ,

One of the most beautiful and evocative places in Italy, the city of Erice in Sicily, was the location of an International School on Renewable and Sustainable Energies from 13-19 July 2016. The School was held in the “Ettore Majorana” Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture, which has been sponsoring world class schools for over 50 years and created a unique culture in Erice. This specific event arose from the joining of two schools, one organized by the European Physical Society (EPS) with the Italian Physical Society (SIF), and the other one by the Materials Research Society (MRS), European-MRS and the Eurosunmed project. Among the directors of this school (David Cahen, Luisa Cifarelli, David Ginley, Abdelilah Slaoui, Antonio Terrasi and Friedrich Wagner) there are past and present presidents and board members of these learned societies. For seven days, 75 Ph.D. students and young researchers, from 14 different countries, attended lectures covering some of the most important and strategic topics in the field of generation, storage and consumption of energy, and put them into perspective in terms of sustainability, with emphasis on lifecycles. In addition, the students were given projects, which they worked on in small groups and reported on at the end of the school.

SIF Summer School
SIF Summer School

The School gave a wide overview of the energy challenge that mankind faces, starting at the global level and including technologies, critical materials, pollution, safety and economy. Distinguished speakers taught by way of lectures and close interactions with students, during the breaks, lunches, dinners and poster sessions. Lectures focused on global climate, CO2 sequestration, water-energy nexus, nuclear energy, solar power, both thermal and photovoltaic as well as photosynthesis and biofuels, geothermal and wind energy, the various forms of energy storage, thermoelectricity, the future of the electrical grid, and how to view mobility and buildings from the point of view of energy and sustainability. Students were continuously stimulated to interact (for example by having different neighbours during the lectures, each day) and to solve problems and exercises assigned day by day. Their main project was to critically assess review papers in the energy, sustainability and materials area as part of teams of 5-7 people.  In the seminar at the end of the school, each team presented its analysis of “their” paper, having done fact- and logic-checking, i.e., serving as critical readers. Indeed, an important aim of the school was to provide the students with the background needed to have a critical, not passive attitude when involved in their field of research, using their familiarity with the scientific method.  Finally, a further acknowledgement given to this school was the visit and talk of prof. Antonino Zichichi, founder and president of the “Ettore Majorana” Centre (first row, white shirt in the centre of the picture).

More information can be found at:

Read previous post:
Europhysics Conference: The Dynamics of Complex Systems

There was an expectant atmosphere as the 120 participants gathered on Wednesday, 18 May 2016 in the Lecture Theatre of the Zeeman Building at the University of Warwick at the start of the Europhysics conference on the Dynamics of Complex Systems. The meeting, held in honour of the forthcoming 60th birthday of Professor Robert MacKay FRS, had a line-up of speakers drawn from the greats of pure and applied dynamical systems, mathematical physics and complex systems science, all areas in which Robert MacKay has made significant and lasting contributions.