Celebrating 50 Years of ESF: A Milestone in Catalysing Research

On 26 June 2024, ESF - the European Science Foundation, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a conference at the Villa Sturm in Strasbourg. This event not only marked half a century of ESF's presence in the scientific landscape but also set the stage for envisioning its future in terms of sustainable and impactful research management.

A Glance Back and a Look Forward 

The program kicked off with opening speeches by representatives of the City Council of Strasbourg and of the Grand Est Region. Véronique Halloin, President of ESF and Nicolas Walter CEO of ESF then took the audience on a journey through the history of ESF and research management, before outlining the organisation's strategic vision for the future. 

Download Véronique Halloin's presentation here.

Catalysing Research in a Changing Environment 

This retrospective set the tone for the keynote address by Ursula Bassler from CNRS, former CERN Council President, who emphasised the importance of science in addressing global challenges such as climate change, health, and economic welfare. She highlighted the need for boldness, collaboration, and investment in research, stressing the importance of interdisciplinary approaches and the free circulation of scientific knowledge. Bassler celebrated European research milestones, such as the creation of CERN and the European Research Area, and discussed the socio-economic impact of research. She also underscored the necessity of maintaining high ethical standards and the critical role of science in fostering peace and societal trust. 

Tackling Contemporary Challenges 

The afternoon featured a series of thought-provoking panels addressing the pressing issues in research today. The first panel, moderated by Erzsébet Toth-Czifra, CoARA programme manager and Julia Boman, Grant evaluation partnerships manager at ESF, delved into "Addressing New Challenges in the Assessment of Research Proposals." The panellists, including Jean-Emmanuel Faure from the European Commission, Rosemary Deem from Royal Holloway University of London and Olivier Boehme, FWO, shared their perspectives on enhancing evaluation processes to better meet contemporary demands.  

The discussion continued with a panel on "Sustained Infrastructures for European Research." Moderated by Oguz Ozkan coordinator of the Research infrastructure cluster at ESF, experts Jana Kolar from CERIC, Thomas Ruhtz from EUFAR, and Nigel Mason from the University of Kent explored the importance of robust research infrastructures in fostering long-term scientific progress. 

The last session was the panel on "Embedding Inclusivity in Science," moderated by Ildi Ipolyi, coordinator of the Inclusive science cluster at ESF. This session featured insightful contributions from Gitte Kragh of Aarhus University related to inclusion of citizens, Andjela Pepic from Banja Luka University on gender equality, and Veikko Ikonen from VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland on research ethics. The panellists emphasized the critical need for inclusivity and diversity in research to ensure that science benefits all sectors of society. 

Concluding Insights and Networking 

The event wrapped up with key messages from Alain Beretz of the University of Strasbourg. His reflections summarised the day's discussions and highlighted the overarching theme of sustainable science management. The conference concluded with a networking reception, where attendees had the opportunity to further discuss ideas and celebrate ESF’s 50th anniversary! 

A Lasting Impact 

ESF's 50th-anniversary event was not just a celebration of the past but a forward-looking conference that addressed the evolving challenges in research management. By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, the event exemplified ESF's commitment to fostering a collaborative and inclusive research environment. As ESF moves into its next 50 years, it continues to catalyse impactful research, ensuring that science remains responsive to societal needs and sustainable for future generations. 



 More photos of the conference