Conflict leaves science trip uncertain

Logan Park High School pupil Mathew Denys (17) is waiting to hear if it will be safe enough for him to attend the World Science Conference in Jerusalem next month. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Logan Park High School pupil Mathew Denys (17) is waiting to hear if it will be safe enough for him to attend the World Science Conference in Jerusalem next month. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
Mathew Denys' trip of a lifetime to the World Science Conference in Jerusalem next month is in limbo as conflict rages in Gaza.

The Logan Park High School pupil says the fighting has added an unwelcome aspect to

the event, which offers an opportunity to listen to 20 Nobel Laureates talk about their work on the cutting edge of science.

Mathew described the scientists as ''the top of the top'', and he was looking forward to hearing them.

But now he is wondering if he will even get to go on the trip.

''With the conflict, I'm not sure if I want it to go ahead or not. I'm a bit in limbo.

''It's tarnished my excitement about the trip.''

The mid-August trip was organised by the Royal Society of New Zealand. But the society was keeping an eye on the situation and Mathew said it would cancel the trip if it felt it was unsafe.

''I've been watching the news every night to keep an eye on the situation myself.

''I think I'm probably just going to take the Royal Society's advice, because they will know a bit more about the situation than me.

''I'm being sensible about it. People are being killed over there and I don't want to be one of them.''

The trip had been surrounded by surprises right from the start, Mathew said.

He was shocked to learn he had won the trip because he had not even applied for it.

Initially, he applied for a trip to the International Youth Science Forum in London, but when the Royal Society of New Zealand was notified of the availability of an unexpected scholarship to go to Jerusalem, Mathew was selected to attend.

He was not worried in the least about not going to London, because he thought the Jerusalem trip would be better.

At the time, Jerusalem was ''a lot more exotic'' than London and he had been looking forward to the adventure.

Yesterday, he admitted he had not expected to be going into a war zone when he made the remark.

Mathew is one of Otago's top science pupils and is planning a career in physics or biochemistry.

He received excellence endorsements for five of the six subjects he studied in NCEA level 2 last year, and also received an NZQA scholarship in statistics.

Scholarship exams are usually sat by NCEA level 3 pupils.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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