We continue to face challenges – from climate change to cyber-security, poverty to pandemics – and the confluence of emerging technologies is set to change our world in ways that are yet unforeseen.
Scientists have an important role to play in both helping to understand and develop solutions to the challenges raised by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the theme of this year’s Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
Science and technology pervade modern society, and the challenges they pose are no longer purely scientific. They have ethical, social, political and economic dimensions, and that is why scientists need to come together with different groups of stakeholders.
The scientists below will all be bringing their perspectives to our meeting of leaders from every sector in Davos next week.
Neil Alford, materials scientist working on the creation of a room-temperature maser – the laser’s older sister, capable of amplifying microwaves rather than light for use in chemical detection or diagnostics.
Abir Al-Tabbaa, engineer investigating the potential of self-healing concrete for low-carbon infrastructure.
Sangeeta Bhatia, biological engineer whose work has recently included the development of engineered yoghurt bacteria to detect colorectal cancer.
Justine Cassell, pioneering researcher in the field of human-computer interaction and the application of this technology to learning and education.
Cho Byung-Kwan, biochemist investigating the role of the microbiome in ageing.
Lorrie Cranor, cybersecurity expert whose work includes secure passwords.
Kim Daesoo, geneticist exploring the idea of being able to switch on and off a gene for greediness.
Vanessa Evers, computer scientist focusing on finding fundamental relationships between humans and interactive technology and the rise of social robotics.
Richard Friend, physicist improving solar materials efficiency using quantum mechanics.
Jack Gallant, neuroscientist using novel imaging methods to study how the human brain represents and processes sensory and cognitive information.
Deborah M. Gordon, biologist studying colonies of ants to better understand collective decision-making.
Robin Grimes, materials physicist using computational simulations to design tomorrow’s materials and Chief Scientific Adviser, Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Julie Grollier, physicist working to create a brain on a chip.
Ali Hajimiri, engineer exploring how to harness solar energy from space.
Paula T. Hammond, chemical engineer developing nanoparticles to combat resistant tumours.
Fiona A. Harrison, astrophysicist using and developing novel technologies to better understand black holes, neutron stars, and supernova remnants.
Chris Harrison, computer scientist investigating how novel sensing technologies and interaction techniques can foster powerful and natural interactions between humans and computers.
Michael Hausser, neuroscientist using optogenetics to decode the cellular basis of neural computation with a view to using this knowledge to create better computers.
Keith Humphreys, scientist probing the brain to understand the prevention and treatment of addictive disorders.
Jay Keasling, scientist engineering microorganisms to produce anti-malarial drugs and clean fuels.
Brian Knutson, neuroscientist seeking to understand how emotion works in the brain and explore how this relates to clinical disorders and economic decision-making.
Markus Kraft, engineer working on decarbonizing industrial-scale processes using virtual avatars.
Lee Sang-Yup, biotechnologist pioneering microbial biorefineries for sustainable chemicals production.
Beau Lotto, neuroscientist fascinated with human perception and understanding what recent developments in neuroscience tell us about the way our brains deal with uncertainty.
Robert Malenka, scientist unravelling the mysteries of the brain to better understand neural mechanisms of reward and aversion.
Andrew Moore, leading expert in statistical machine learning, artificial intelligence, robotics, and statistical computation for large volumes of data.
Illah Nourbakhsh, roboticist exploring human-robot interaction.
Jeremy O'Brien, physicist using a photonic approach to manufacture a universal quantum computer.
Amy Ogan, educational technologist focusing on ways to make learning more engaging and enjoyable through the use of sensing technologies.
Oh Jun-Ho, roboticist and 2015 DARPA Robotics Challenge winner and developer of HUBO, a multifunctional walking humanoid robot.
Neri Oxman, architect and designer conducting research at the intersection of computational design, digital fabrication, materials science and synthetic biology and applies that knowledge to design across scales, from the micro scale to the building scale.
Maja Pantic, computer scientist working on machine analysis of human non-verbal behaviour and its applications for proactive design of home and health support appliances, living and working spaces.
Anthony Rowe, researcher working on networked real-time embedded systems for sensing and control applications.
Stuart Russell, computer scientist and a world-renowned expert in artificial intelligence.
Mary Ryan, materials scientist working to understand fundamental nanoscale interactions of materials in different environments.
Charles Sawyers, oncologist investigating the signalling pathways that drive the growth of cancer cells, with an eye toward designing new treatment options.
Suchitra Sebastian, physicist exploring how to use quantum materials for zero-loss transmission of electricity.
Ehud Shapiro, computer scientist and biologist who designed a tiny computer made entirely of biological molecules which were successfully programmed – in a test tube – to identify molecular changes in the body that indicate the presence of certain cancers.
Natalie Stingelin, materials scientist whose current work includes the production of plastics that can manipulate light for heat-shielding infrastructure.
Alan Winfield, engineer investigating the concept of building a machine that can make ethical decisions.
Paul K. Wright, mechanical engineer focusing on advanced manufacturing design and process for energy harvesting and storage.
Lim Youn-Kyung, researcher working on human-computer interaction with a focus on advanced mobile healthcare systems.
Author: Alice Hazelton, Programme Specialist, Science, World Economic Forum