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CyI Participates in “Researchers’ Night 2020” Virtual Event


The Cyprus Institute had an inspiring presence at the “Researcher’s Night 2020” event, organised virtually for the first time, on Friday, 27th of November 2020. The event is an initiative of the European Commission and organized by the Research and Innovation Foundation (RIF), and is held annually to promote the importance of research, technology, and innovation. It takes place at the same time in 371 cities across Europe and beyond, on the last Friday of September and is dedicated to bringing researchers closer to the public, highlighting the important role they play in society and promoting the profession of a researcher.

This year’s event was initially scheduled for Friday, 25 September 2020. However, due to the exceptional circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was conducted totally virtually on Friday, 27 November 2020. The organizers, as well as the participants gave all visitors a unique experience.

The central theme of the Researcher’s Night 2020 event was “Green and Smart Cities” promoting biodiversity, climate, health, wellness and air quality, as well as social cohesion and sustainable development, while at the same time there were activities from all scientific fields. The motto of the event was “Science is for all”.

CyI participated with a total of eleven different virtual activities, and the public had the opportunity to get acquainted with various research themes carried out at the Institute:

Science in the “Green Zone” - led by Prof. Jean Sciare, Director of Climate and Atmosphere Research Centre (CARE-C). Team members: Prof. Jos Lelieveld, Associate Professor George Biskos, Associate Professor Panos Hadjinicolaou, Managing Coordinator Yiannis Proestos, Associate Research Scientist in Regional Climate Change Modelling George Zittis, Associate / Post-Doctoral Fellow Spyros Bezentakos, Associate Research Scientist Anne Maisser, Research and Development Scientist Christos Keleshis, Electrical/Electronic Engineer for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Panayiota Antoniou, Associate Research Scientist in Experimental Atmospheric Sciences Michalis Pikridas, Technical Research Specialist in Atmospheric Sciences Maximilien Desservettaz, Research Assistant in Air Quality Instrumentation Marinos Costi, Nanotechnology Research Laboratory Technician Kleanthis Erotokritou, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Katiana Constantinidou, PhD Student Athanasios Ntoumos, PhD Student Anna Tzyrkalli, and Intern Nikoleta Lekaki.

Abstract: People could find out more about how climate and atmosphere research and innovation contribute to the protection of the Cyprus environment and help CyI researchers and scientists build “green” and smart cities. Audience had the opportunity to see CyI drones in action and learn more about the smart technologies that are being developed at CARE-C. People could also see experiments that, through the use of everyday objects and scientific instruments, showcase natural phenomena relevant to research activities, as well as to discover climate models developed by CARE-C researchers that demonstrate why and how, our cities need to change for a “greener” and safer future.

The Decarbonisation of Cyprus using Solar Thermal Energy (PROTEAS & FRESNEL) - led by Marios Georgiou, Head of PROTEAS Operations Facility. Team members: Associate Research Scientist for Concentrated Solar Power Alaric Montenon, Associate Research Scientist Nestoras Fylaktos, and Scientific Officer Anastasia Hadjiafxenti.

Cyprus is an island with a rich cultural heritage, which is however threatened by the impacts of climate change. The European Union calls on its members to promote measures to confront climate change, such as the use of renewable energy sources. PROTEAS and FRESNEL, are two experimental facilities that use the solar thermal energy to provide energy to buildings. One of the most promising solar technologies is the Concentrated Solar Thermal (CSΤ) which uses mirror configurations to concentrate solar irradiation onto a target (commonly called receiver) and convert it into heat. One of the major types of configuration of these technologies, is the Solar Tower Systems. Heliostats are sun-tracking mirrors that reflect the sun rays focusing them on the receiver at the top of the Power Tower (PROTEAS). In another case, mirrors reflect the solar energy on a linear collector that is placed in the focal length of the mirrors (FRESNEL). The thermal energy collected is then used to generate electric power. In addition to electric power, other thermodynamic processes can be implemented that include desalination and production of heat for industrial and domestic processes.

Climate-Smart Water Adaptation for a Green Future - led by Associate Professor Adriana Bruggeman. Team members: Associate Research Scientist in Water and Natural Resource Management Research and Economics Elias Giannakis, Associate Research Scientist in Water and Natural Resource Management Research and Economics Christos Zoumides, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Hydrology and Land Management Hakan Djuma, Post-Doctoral Fellow in Hydrology Marinos Eliades, Technical Research Specialist in Environmental Hydrology Giouli Venetsanou, PhD Student Melpomeni Siakou, PhD Student Ioannis Sofokleous, and RIMS Officer Dimitrios Katsouras.

Water is a key component for human life, natural vegetation and managed ecosystems, and it largely determines the character of urban and rural landscapes. How can society work with the scientific community to respond to the challenges of climate change? Participants could learn smart recipes and procedures to adapt our water resources and cities to climate change. Participants also had the opportunity to take part in a knowledge quiz, based on the relevant broadcasted videos. The participants with the highest scores could won a free taxi-bike tour of Nicosia's old town, offered by bicynicosia.
From Archaeological Excavation to the Laboratory and the Synchrotron: Your Cypriot ancestors - led by Assistant Professor Kirsi O. Lorentz. Team members: Post-Doctoral Fellow Simone Lemmers, PhD Student Natalie Branca, PhD Student Bianca Casa, PhD Student Sila Kayalp, Graduate Research Assistant Belkis (Meha) Abufaur, and PhD Student Yuko Miyauchi.

Audience could explore the lives and life stories of your Cypriot ancestors through science in this research journey starting from archaeological excavations, leading through laboratories in Cyprus, to a major international science facility which Cyprus is a member of, the SESAME synchrotron. Synchrotrons can be thought of as enormous microsocpes, enabling 3D views of material samples, including archaeological human remains, to explore their structure and chemical composition, at great detail – all the way down to nanometer scales! People could explore how ancient Cypriots engaged with the sea around their island, causing bony growths in their ear canals, how some men from more than 5000 years ago carry tell-tale signs of fist-fighting, how someone can explore effects of metal working and use on human health through ancient human remains and the use of synchrotrons, as well as how Cypriots laid their dead to rest over 5000 years ago, with elaborate funerary rituals based on detailed anatomical knowledge, all those years ago.
The Human Skeleton: A Window to the Past - led by Assistant Professor Efthymia Nikita Post-Doctoral Fellow Maria-Eleni Chovalopoulou, PhD Student Anna Karligkioti, PhD Student Mahmoud Mardini, Graduate Research Assistant Chrysa Vergidou.

How active were our ancestrors? What were their dietary habits like, how healthy were there and how mobile? All this information can be extracted from the human skeleton, using appropriate research tools. This project included different activities for an audience aged 5 to 15 years. These activities showed what an osteoarchaeologist’s job looks like from the stage of excavation to the stage of laboratory analysis. In specific, someone could learn the main principles of an archaeological excavation, and also gave the opportunity to determine if a human skeleton belongs to a man or a woman, how old he/she was, how active and whether he/she suffered from any diseases, exactly as an osteoarchaeologist does in the lab.
What’s for dinner? Eating and Drinking with Ancient Cypriots - led by Assistant Professor Evi Margaritis. Team members: Lab Assistant Carolyne Douche, Research Affilliate Anna Spyrou, PhD Student Carly Henkel, PhD Student Kyriaki Tsirtsi.
Abstract: This activity aimed to provide the online visitor with an understanding of ancient subsistence and diet in Cyprus, by presenting the most up-to-date work from the field and laboratory. Specialists discussed the existing evidence on human diets, as reflected through the plant and animal remains found in archaeological sites across the island. The activities presented covered a broad timeframe, spanning from the Late Epipaleolithic, when we have the earliest evidence of habitation of the island by hunters and gatherers, to the modern era. The approach focused on wild and domestic animal and plant remains retrieved from some of the most important archaeological sites including Akrotiri Aetokremnos, Parekklishia Shillourokampos, Chirokoitia, Kition, Idalion, Pyla, Kourion, Pafos and Erimi. Among the major themes were discussed by researchers was the evolution of food acquisition and processing strategies, the introduction of plant and animal resources on the island from the nearby mainland, the origins of brewing and wine making and the equipment being involved.  Activities included an introduction to the products and by-products of plants and animals, such as milk and wine, as well as quizzes and games that engaged the online visitor to the topic of past diet. 
What is a supercomputer? - led by Prof. Constantia Alexandrou, Director of Computation-based Science and Technology Research Center (CaSToRC). Team members: Scientific Coordinator Andreas Gavrielides, PhD Student Davide Nolè, PhD Student Antonino Todaro, PhD Student Floriano Manigrasso, and PhD student Andreas Hadjigeorgiou.

Supercomputers are the Formula One racing cars of computers. Their many powerful processors are able to perform many millions of calculations simultaneously so they can operate millions of times faster than conventional computers and help us solve highly complex problems. Supercomputers are the key to solving the world’s most pressing problems. In this exhibition as we went together to the immense number of applications supercomputers have and the amazing impact they can have on our lives.
Computational Science & Engineering: Transforming our lives - led by Prof. Vangelis Harmandaris. Team members: Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Panayiota Katsamba, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow Petra Bačová, and Scientific Coordinator (SimEA) Kathy Christoforou.

This activity was an exciting journey into the world of molecular simulations and the different size scales of observing the structure of the materials surrounding our lives. From building materials in the construction industry to building materials of life itself, the SimEA project research team in the coming years will be responsible for developing codes to unlock the mysteries surrounding the fundamental mechanisms of the structure for a wide range of materials leading to new applications in society, innovative enterprises and new discoveries in academia.
COVID-19: Online modeling and simulations of the pandemic - led by Prof. Vangelis Harmandaris. Team members: Assist Prof. Nikos Savva (special thanks), PhD Student Antonis Hazirakis, and PhD Student Anastasios Irakleous.

Abstract: 2020 was a year of major changes in the socio-economic landscape due to the pandemic and a new form of threat named COVID-19. In this presentation CyI researchers analysed how one of our research teams, receiving national funding, and using specialized codes and models is able to visualize the spread of the pandemic in Cyprus. This effort will lead to finding more effective measures to tackle the pandemic with as few impacts as possible on the everyday life.
NI4OS-Europe, National Initiatives for Open Science in Europe - led by Computational Scientist Chrysovalantis Constantinou. Team members: Dr. Sylvia Koukounidou, Research Affiliate Andreas Athenodorou.

Abstract: NI4OS-Europe is a pan-European project which strives to make open science a reality in the countries of East Europe and the Mediterranean. Open science is an umbrella term used to describe the easy and open access to repositories, publications, data, and thematic services. Researchers and service providers from both the Academic and Industry world can have their services on-boarded to NI4OS-Europe. For that, their services must comply with the FAIR principles which dictate that data should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reproducible. Our team’s mission is to provide support to anyone who wants to onboard his/her services to NI4OS. These services will eventually become part of the larger European Open Science (EOSC) project thus there is the extra incentive (for researchers) to make their services visible in the European level.
Innovation for a Sustainable Future - led by Fabio Maria Montagnino, Head of Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Team members: Assistant Professor Mihalis Nicolaou, Prof. Costas N. Papanicolas, Associate Professor Sorin Hermon.

Abstract: The aim of the activity is to present the innovative projects of The Cyprus Institute, which will contribute to the sustainable future of Cyprus and region. The newly established Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, aims to strengthen innovative activities and outreach and improve the role of The Cyprus Institute in the transition of Cyprus to a model of knowledge economy. At the same time, is also pursuing the access to the relevant funding opportunities for innovation in the local, European and global landscape. During this activity our scientists presented the start-ups GAIA - Geospatial Artificial Intelligence Analytics and IRET - InfraRed Emission Tomography, which have been funded by the PRE-SEED Call of RIF under the Program RESTART 2016-2020. Further to the above, our researchers presented projects funded by Cyprus Seeds, ARTES (Art Characterization Service) and HPC IR (High Performance Computing enabled Image Reconstruction for Low Dose and High Contrast for Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Low Dose Computer Monograph (SPECT) applications. Additionally, this team presented other projects for a sustainable future that are progressing in CyI innovation pipeline, as well as international initiatives and networks for the promotion of prosperous and low carbon footprint communities.

More info available here.

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