Science and Politics


Think meets up with Dr David Magri to tell us more about how he is trying to help scientists and politicians to network. Evidence-based policies need the input of scientists from all fields and are the future for Malta’s policy makers to develop a better, richer, and happier Malta.

Q: In a small country like Malta were everyone knows each other, why do scientists and politicians need to network? 

A: Even in a small country like Malta, people do not know everybody. In particular, scientists and politicians are two groups of individuals with busy schedules and different priorities. Because of the inherent nature of their professions, these two groups have no natural reason to meet. Scientists spend a considerable amount of time in their office, laboratory, in meetings, out on fieldwork, and at conferences. Politicians spend a substantial amount of time in their office, in the House of Parliament, at meetings, events, and attending conferences. However, for the nation’s interests, science and research policy is important for future competitiveness with regards to technical skills and human resources. Parliamentarians and governments set the national priorities for research, but researchers need to meet these research objectives. Researchers have a better understanding of what is feasible and what resources are needed.

“Scientists and politicians are two groups of individuals with busy schedules and different priorities”

Q:How are you trying to get them to engage?

A: The Malta Chamber of Scientists has established Science in the House as a networking forum between scientists and parliamentarians. Under the auspices of the House of Representatives, Science in the House is also a poster exhibition highlighting some of the leading research conducted in Malta, particularly at the University of Malta. Now in its third year, the event continues to build momentum with greater participation every year. It takes place in the Presidential Palace in Valletta. This year a number of parliamentarians with science-related interests and backgrounds have been asked by personal invitation to attend the opening ceremonies of Science in the House.

Q:What is the role of Science in the House as part of Science in the City – European Researcher’s Night?

A: Science in the House is the opening ceremony for the Science in the City festival. During the weekend festival the Presidential Palace is open to the public in the evening. The poster exhibition is left on display for parliamentarians to view, and afterwards left on display over the Notte Bianca festival allowing the general public including students, parents, and tourists to view the exhibition. During the week an estimated 6,000 visitors viewed the exhibition last year. 

Part of Science in the City, Malta’s Science and Arts Festival

For more stories click here

The event is supported by the Malta Chamber of Scientists, the RIDT University Research Trust, the University of Malta and the House of Representatives. For more information see and on


From DJ to videographer: Ruby on Science

Lily Agius, the artistic curator of Science in the City met up with DJ Ruby to talk about science and art. Ruby created a video for Science in the City that will be available in 2013 on

– Recently, you progressed from DJ to VJ (video jockey). Was it a hard transition?

No, not really, because it has taken quite a few years to get it in motion. For the past 5 years I have been working with videography on an amateur basis, but all of a sudden at the beginning of this year I decided to take it on professionally, and in a matter of few weeks I learned all that I needed to.

– Which was the art installation or event that you enjoyed the most? 

Certainly the live music session by Andrew Alamango and Mario Sammut a.k.a Cynga. It was electronically based, which is my cup of tea.

– One of the exhibits in the exhibition at St James presented fruit flies within their own eco system in bulbs. These organisms are used to investigate muscle-wasting diseases, obesity, cancer, diabetes, and more. Did you ever imagine that humans could be related enough to a fruit fly to use them to learn more about human disease?

I never knew about it before. I was mesmerised to find out at the exhibition at St. James. That was very interesting!

– How did you feel when interacting with the art: climbing the DNA staircase, or entering the echo-proofed room in Strait Street?

It was an amazing experience, not just as a regular person attending the event but also as film maker while on the job.

– Have you ever been to a festival of its kind in Malta or abroad before?

It was a first for me, and was very impressed about how professional the event was.

– Did you expect to see something more from the festival? Is there anything you would like to see at the festival next year?

Well, from my point of view it may be no surprise to hear me say: more music.

– How would you describe the audience of the Science in the City Festival?

People of all ages and from all walks of life were there — it was certainly an event for everyone!

– Do you think that art can be used to explain science?

Yes it can, Science in the City proved that.

– How does science play its part in your own life?

I am very into IT, computers, software, gadgets and electronic music/visual. Technology is all around me and with me everyday, and forever evolving and improving. 

Part of Science in the City, Malta’s Science and Arts Festival

For more stories click here

For more information on DJ Ruby: or For Ruby’s videography and visual work:

Science in the city 2012

Dr Edward DucaOn the 28th September, Malta’s Science and Art festival launched to over 12,000 people, as part of the EU-wide celebration Researchers’ Night. Science carnival parades, busking, art installations, performances and more filled Malta’s capital with over 20 events — bleeding into the Notte Bianca festival.  Science and art are usually seen as two separate cultures. Some humanities branches have directly rejected it, but other fields are embracing science. In Malta, top artists leafed through books, or had a chat with University of Malta scientists to find sources of inspiration (or criticism). Valletta became filled with giant fruit flies and DNA strands (Climbing your DNA). You could even have sat down, had a coffee, and pondered why there were acetate brain slices hanging in front of Malta’s National Library. The city could be viewed through a different lens for a few days.

There are other ways science and art can interact. Science and technology can be used to explore art and analyse it. Van Gogh’s Sunflowers was recently examined by chemists, identifying why the pigment was becoming a mucky brown, shedding insight on how to reverse the degradation and bring back the artist’s true vision. Artists and scientists can come together to collaborate on new research. Recently in Ireland, a weaver visualised a large data set by making a huge tapestry. The scientist then analysed the giant carpet to interpret her data. Art can also be an excellent way to explore the ethical implications of science — its potential harm, benefit or relation to society.

Science in the City was simply a start that dipped its toe into this new pool. It saw researchers and students combine their efforts with artists and performers to bring together a range of events (read about Alexandra Fiott’s experience on pg. 23). Nine scientists appeared live on prime time TV to talk about their research with prominent entertainers Angie Laus and Pawlu Borg Bonaci. From within large crowds, science students performed science demonstrations, while MCST (Malta Council for Science and Technology) held a highly successful science fun fair for kids, with another kids activity at Auberge D’Italie by MARes (another EU funded project). Scientists met politicians at Science in the House organised by the Malta Chamber of Scientists. There were talks on the health benefits of local honey by Simone Cutajar (science graduate), mathematics and piano recitals by Tricia Dawn Williams, electronic and flute performances from Italy with compositions based on the Chaos Theory that explains hurricanes, and a bit more. The big night was followed up by talks and discussions. Ira Melkonyan spoke about the new field of BioArt  while there was even a discussion on human cloning after the play A Number by Caryl Churchill. Over the next few pages, THINK has selected the major artworks created for Science in the City. 

Words by Dr Edward Duca, full disclaimer: author is the project manager of Science in the City.

Part of Science in the City, Malta’s Science and Arts Festival

For more stories click here

Find out more: