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March 4, 2004
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London science forum ‘amazing’

By Kristine Hamlyn
The prestigious London International Youth Science Forum has recognized the contributions of Memorial chemistry professor Dr. Chris Flinn with an invitation to serve as honorary vice-president. Dr. Flinn attributes the honour to a combination of his long association with sending Memorial students to the forum as well as the wonderful reputation the students themselves have made for the university.

Memorial is currently the only university in the country sending students to participate in the London International Youth Science Forum and has been doing so since 1974. Two first year science students are typically chosen every year to attend the forum and in turn become representatives for not only Memorial and the province but Canada as well. The students are chosen based on a personal interview and their academic achievement in science.

Dr. Flinn says what the students experience while in London is amazing. “They are exposed to a wide variety of scientific experiences such as specialist lectures and scientific day trips, and they are given the opportunity to socialize and meet students from around the world.” The forum is a gathering of about 300 science students with superior academic ability from around the world, typically around 50 countries are represented.

“There is so little in the way of science here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Flinn. “Outside of the university community, students are not typically exposed to a wide variety of science-oriented career choices.” Dr. Flinn feels very strongly about the benefits of sending students to London where they have the opportunity encounter so many aspects of the scientific careers that are available them.

“Students who have participated in previous years have had nothing but positive feedback about their experiences at the forum.” In fact, Dr. Flinn is proud to report that many of the students move on to be very successful. One such student is Robin Swain who studied mathematics at Memorial and is now doing a post-graduate course at the Imperial College in London. “Robin attended the forum as a student many years ago and made such a good impression he has since been invited back. He has participated in many different capacities, moving up the ranks with each passing year.”

In emphasizing the great importance of the exposure and experiences the participating students receive, Dr. Flinn mentioned Dr. Peter Fisher, a former chemistry professor at the St. John’s campus who started the process of sending students to the forum and Dr. June Winter who kept it going for so many years. He said the only thing he really dislikes about the forum is the whole process of choosing students to go. “There are so many good students at Memorial and choosing between them is not always the easiest task.” For this reason, Dr. Flinn has routinely enlisted the help of colleagues including Dr. Gary Hancock, Dr. Charles Loader, Dr. Howard Clase and Dr. Bob Davis in the planning and selection process.

Two students are able to attend the London International Youth Science Forum during the last week of July and first week of August every year thanks to funding from both the Faculty of Science and Student Affairs and Services. “Students who experience the London Forum undergo a remarkable transformation as a result of their exposure to young aspiring scholars like themselves from around the world,” said Dr. Robert Lucas, Memorial’s dean of science. “The forum is a unique transformative experience for our students and a fabulous opportunity for which first-year students may compete.”


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Next issue: March 18, 2004

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