Physics of Data & Societal Challenges

Extreme weather events, the emergence of infectious diseases, climate change, food-security and cybersecurity issues are some of the major challenges identified for the next decade, in the 2022 Global Risks report. These grand challenges require multidisciplinary approaches to be addressed, but the fundamental nature of the biophysical, physical, and environmental systems that define them calls physics of data to play a leading role, particularly in light of the digital transformation of many processes and the availability of large masses of data in so many areas that are the basis for then developing predictive models and analyses.

In this sense, the grand societal challenges also represent an opportunity for today’s physicist. In particular, we identify three major areas that are of interest to next-generation physicists: 1) Precision Medicine; 2) Food, Environment and Climate; and 3) Cryptography, Blockchain, and Quantum Frontiers. To critically learn about and train skills that can help study these transformations and their impact in society, the Physics of Data and Societal Challenges project aims to provide students with interdisciplinary and extra-curricular training (including soft skills) through a series of seminars and two workshops. In this way, students will meet with top experts from both the academic and corporate worlds capable of activating formative processes in students to make critical and mature synthesis of these societal transformations.