Ashoka University explains COVID-19 in Scientifically Speaking

Sonipat: Ashoka University is starting a new online lecture series, Scientifically Speaking, on April 17, 2020 for high school students with a passion for learning sciences. The series is open for all. Through Scientifically Speaking, Ashoka University aims to connect high schools students and anyone who is keen to learn with interdisciplinary scientists exploring complex problems. The lecture content will decode the most sophisticated scientific questions of our time in a simple, introductory format, while highlighting fresh perspectives grounded in interdisciplinary research. The first lecture of the series will be delivered by Prof. Gautam Menon on April 17, 2020 from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Through this online lecture series, Ashoka University brings a number of scientists exploring complex problems to everyone’s home. The topics will be drawn from subject areas such as Physics, Computer Science, Chemistry, and Biology, amongst others. A common theme running across all lectures covering a diversity of topics is Data Science, which has enabled scientists to reach heights, unimaginable just a few decades ago. Each session will run for one hour, nearly half of which has been allocated for participants to interact with the lecturer, and ask their burning questions.

For the first lecture, Gautam I. Menon, Professor of Physics and Biology at Ashoka University will deconstruct the COVID-19 virus. Titled “Engaging COVID-19 using Data (and) Science”, this lecture will explain why the pandemic cannot be exclusively addressed by doctors and will describe how experts in computer science, mathematics, engineering, economics, and sociology have come together to better understand the novel coronavirus and its impact on society. This lecture is designed for high school students who want to understand how data and science can be integrated to address questions that affect our daily lives.

“If 21st-century scientists are able to query the natural world, living or nonliving, in an unprecedented scale of size and complexity and at a much faster timescale, it is because of data science, particularly the sophistication achieved in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Just take, for example, the current pandemic. Within days of observing unusual flu symptoms, scientists knew which virus it is, how it infects and how it spreads. Within three months, much progress has been made in developing appropriate theory, new drugs and vaccines. All this is due to the application of data science”, says Prof LS Shashidhara, Dean (Research) at Ashoka University.

Scientifically Speaking will work as an interactive virtual seminar series wherein participants can ask questions to the speakers and the speakers will clarify their queries. The series will feature 45 minutes to 1 hour long episodes using Zoom. The episode will be broadcast simultaneously on Facebook and YouTube.

The live sessions will be free and open for everyone to attend. Once the live session is over, key content from the episode will be cut and edited to be uploaded on various other platforms such as Instagram and Tik Tok. The live sessions will also be recorded and made available as episodes on Ashoka University’s website. Details of upcoming episodes will be available on Ashoka University’s website, Instagram handle and Twitter handle.