Die Freude am Entdecken

Read in English

 

Bernard L. Feringa

Nur wenige Ereignisse in der Karriere eines Wissenschaftlers hinterlassen einen so bleibenden Eindruck wie die Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagung. Gräfin Bettina Bernadotte und die Mitarbeiter der Geschäftsstelle des Kuratoriums begrüßen hunderte junge Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus aller Welt an diesem wunderschönen Ort am Bodensee und laden sie zum Austausch mit Nobelpreisträgern ein. Weit mehr als in meiner täglichen Freude an der Entdeckung der molekularen Welt habe ich dort die Begeisterung und die stimulierende Atmosphäre wahrgenommen, die durch die Gespräche mit so vielen begabten jungen Menschen entsteht. Die Vorträge von hervorragenden Nobelpreisträgern, die sich mit unterschiedlichen Aspekten unserer Disziplin und weit darüber hinaus beschäftigt haben, waren ebenso anregend und boten vielfältige Möglichkeiten, neue Fenster in unsere gemeinsame Zukunft zu öffnen. Diese unvergessliche Veranstaltung, die sich durch eine perfekte Organisation und eine zuvorkommende Behandlung auszeichnet, lässt selbst die jüngsten Teilnehmer stolz darauf sein, Wissenschaftler zu sein. Die zahlreichen Diskussionen mit den Studenten haben mich lebhaft an meine eigene Zeit als junger Wissenschaftler erinnert – das Staunen über und die Leidenschaft für die Chemie, aber auch der Kampf mit den Entscheidungen. Welches sind die wichtigsten Themen der Zukunft? Welche Richtung soll man einschlagen? Wie geht man mit den unwegsamen, verschlungenen Wegen der Entdeckungsreise um? Wie findet man die Balance im eigenen Leben? Wie lassen sich die Ratschläge eines Helden des eigenen Forschungsgebiets auf die persönliche Wirklichkeit übertragen? Und wie findet man das richtige Verhältnis zwischen Wissen und Intuition? Es hat mir eine große Freude bereitet, den Beginn der wissenschaftlichen Reise dieser Menschen zu erleben und meine persönlichen Erfahrungen an diese wagemutigen und ambitionierten jungen Frauen und Männer weitergeben zu können.

Nur wenige Ereignisse in der Karriere eines Wissenschaftlers hinterlassen einen so bleibenden Eindruck wie die Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagung.

Die Möglichkeit, durch intensive Gespräche mit Teilnehmern aus aller Welt für die allgemeinen Werte der Wissenschaft eintreten zu können – unsere Verantwortung für die Menschheit und die wichtige Rolle, die die ‘Qualität des Denkens’ in der wissenschaftlichen Ausbildung spielt –– ist für mich einer der wesentlichen Schätze der Lindauer Tagungen. Das erstreckt sich auch auf die vielen Gelegenheiten des Kontakts zur Presse, bei denen man die Schönheit und die Kraft der Chemie als zentraler Naturwissenschaft und die wichtige Rolle aller jungen Nachwuchstalente, die in Lindau zusammentreffen, im Sinne ihres maßgeblichen Beitrags zur Erfindung unserer Zukunft hervorheben kann. Die enormen Anstrengungen der Organisatoren von Lindau, die Community auf breiter Ebene anzusprechen, verdienen Beifall. Die inspirierenden Vorträge und die gesellschaftlichen Events auf hohem Niveau, wie etwa der bezaubernde ‘Mexikanische Abend’, boten uns die richtigen ‘Flügel’, um gleichsam durch diese herrliche Woche zu fliegen.

 

Ben Feringa with young scientists during the 67th Lindau Metting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Ben Feringa mit Nachwuchswissenschaftlern während der 67. Lindauer Tagung. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Das absolute Highlight der Veranstaltung war für mich das fast zweistündige Diskussionsforum mit einer großen Gruppe von Studenten. Die Themen reichten dabei von persönlichen Höhepunkten über entscheidende Momente meiner Karriere bis hin zu herausfordernden Fragen des Publikums zur Zukunft unserer Disziplin. Die Erfahrungen, die die Studenten aus verschiedenen Kontinenten einbrachten, machten diese spezielle Begegnung zu einer intensiven Erfahrung des Voneinanderlernens. Für mich war das ein schönes Beispiel für das Wesen der Wissenschaften, nämlich Fragen stellen und in eine wissenschaftliche Debatte einsteigen. Es hat mir viel Freude bereitet, mit den Studenten meine Sichtweise darüber zu teilen, wie man sein Talent als Wissenschaftler entdeckt: „Vertrauensvoll den eigenen Träumen folgen, da man dann genau das entdecken kann, was einem viel Energie gibt, und die eigenen Grenzen in diesem Abenteuer des Unbekannten jenseits des aktuellen Horizonts erkennen.”

Die Entdeckungsfreude der Studenten, sowohl auf wissenschaftlicher als auch auf persönlicher Ebene, die während der Woche in Lindau in all ihren Facetten zu erleben war, wird den weiteren Weg dieser jungen Chemiker nachhaltig prägen. Die Lindauer Tagungen schaffen ein hervorragendes „Laboratorium“ für junge Talente, den Gestaltern unserer Zukunft.

 

Diesen und weitere Berichte über die 67. Lindauer Tagung finden sich im Jahresbericht 2017.

 

The Joy of Discovery

Zur deutschen Version

Bernard L. Feringa

Few events in the career of a scientist make such a lasting impression as the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. In the beautiful setting of Lake Constance, Countess Bettina Bernadotte and the staff of the executive secretariat of the Lindau Meetings welcome hundreds of young talents from all over the world to discuss with several Nobel Laureates. Far beyond my daily joy of discovery in the molecular world, I experienced the excitement and stimulating atmosphere created by the discussions with so many bright young minds. The lectures of distinguished Nobel Laureates, covering various aspects of our discipline and far beyond, were equally stimulating, providing ample opportunities to open new windows to our common future. This memorable event, characterised by superb organisation and royal treatment, makes even the youngest participant feel proud to be a scientist. The numerous discussions with the students reminded me vividly of my own early days as a young scientist – the wonder and passion for chemistry but also the struggle with choices. Which are the most challenging topics or areas for the future, which directions to take, how to deal with the winding and unpaved roads to discovery, the balance in one’s personal life? How do you translate the advice of one of your heroes in the field and find the balance with your own knowledge and intuition? It was indeed a great joy to rediscover how the journey of a scientist starts as well as sharing my personal experiences with these daring and ambitious young men and women.

Few events in the career of a scientist make such a lasting impression as the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

The opportunity to advocate the values of science in general – our responsibilities for humanity and the important role of ‘quality of thought’ in academic training, through extensive discussions with participants from around the world – reflects to me one of the major assets of the Lindau Meetings. This extends to the many opportunities to engage with the press to emphasise the beauty and power of chemistry as the central science and the key role of all the young talents gathered in Lindau in making major contributions to invent our future. The considerable efforts of the Lindau organisation in reaching out to the community at large are to be applauded. The inspiring lectures and high-level social events, including an enchanting ’Mexican Evening’, provided the proper ‘wings’ to make us all feel as though we were flying during this magnificent week.

 

Ben Feringa with young scientists during the 67th Lindau Metting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Ben Feringa with young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

For me, the absolute highlight of the event was the discussion forum, which lasted nearly two hours, with a large group of students. The topics ranged from personal highlights to decisive moments in my career, the challenging questions by the audience on the future of our discipline and the experiences shared by students from different continents, made this particular meeting a steep mutual learning curve for all of us. It was a fine example of the essence of science, asking questions and entering academic debate. It gave me much pleasure to share with the students my views on “how to discover your talent” being a scientist: “Be confident in following your dreams, as it allows you to discover what will give you lots of energy and to experience your limits in this adventure in the unknown beyond your current horizon.” 

The joy of discovery by the students, both scientifically and personally, experienced in all its facets during the Lindau week, will make a long-lasting contribution to the careers of these young chemists. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting offers a magnificent ‘laboratory’ for young talents who are going to shape our future.

 

More reviews and highlights of the 67th Lindau Meeting can be found in the Annual Report 2017.

 

 

Go on a virtual tour through the Feringa lab at the University of Groningen in the Nobel Lab 360°.

Annual Report 2017

Hot off the press: The Annual Report 2017. Photo/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Hot off the press: The Annual Report 2017. Photo/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The Annual Report 2017 of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings is out now.

The report features highlights of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (Chemistry) and the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences, including inspiring reviews from Nobel Laureates Ben Feringa and Christopher Pissarides as well as young scientists and young economists.

The digital edition of the Annual Report can be dowloaded here.

Die Welt zu Hause in Lindau

Schon seit neun Jahren sind Gastfamilien aus Lindau und Umgebung fester Bestandteil der Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen. Durch ihr Engagement erhalten die Nachwuchswissenschaftler die einzigartige Chance, Lindau und seine Menschen im persönlichen Umfeld kennenzulernen und mehr über Leben und Kultur in Deutschland aus erster Hand zu erfahren.

 

Wiedersehen nach sechs Jahren – Elom Aglago und seine Lindauer Gastfamilie

Brigitte Trojan und Hans Schweickert nehmen schon seit 2011 an den Lindauer Tagungen als Gastfamilie teil. Seitdem haben sie schon sieben Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus aller Welt (aus Ägypten, Japan, Georgien, Chile, dem Iran, dem Libanon und dem Togo) bei sich zu Hause aufgenommen. Ihr erster Gast war 2011 Elom Aglago aus dem Togo. Seitdem sind sie in Kontakt geblieben und in diesem Jahr ist Elom nach Lindau zurückgekehrt, um seine Gastfamilie wiederzusehen.

 

Elom Aglago und seine Gastfamilie in Lindau. Credit: Christoph Schumacher/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Elom Aglago und seine Gastfamilie in Lindau. Credit: Christoph Schumacher/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Warum sind Sie eine Gastfamilie geworden?

Gastfamilie Trojan: Wir waren gerade frisch nach Lindau in ein neues Haus mit Garten umgezogen, als wir darüber nachdachten, einen Gastwissenschaftler aufzunehmen. Wir lieben es, hier zu Hause in Lindau zu sein, aber wir sind auch offen für neue Kulturen und Sichtweisen. Außerdem sind wir begeistert von den Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen. Für uns war es darum die perfekte Möglichkeit, Menschen aus der ganzen Welt zu begegnen. Zusätzlich ist es ein wirklich gutes Training und nebenbei verbessern wir unser Englisch.

Für uns war es die perfekte Möglichkeit, Menschen aus der ganzen Welt zu begegnen

Wie war es, als Elom 2011 zu Ihnen kam?

GF: Wir waren glücklich und gesegnet als wir Elom 2011 hier hatten. Wir haben jeden Morgen gemeinsam gefrühstückt und über das tägliche Programm gesprochen. Und wenn er zurückkam, haben wir immer ein abendliches Briefing bekommen und über den Tag bei der Tagung gesprochen. Wir haben jede Menge Inspiration von ihm bekommen; er hat einen wunderbaren Sinn für Humor, ist ruhig und sehr pragmatisch. Und er liebte es, die unterschiedlichsten Themen mit uns zu diskutieren – das ist etwas, das wir wirklich sehr wertschätzen.

 

Wie sind Sie all die Jahre in Kontakt geblieben?

GF: Wir hatten hin und wieder E-Mailkontakt. Und an Weihnachten haben wir uns beispielsweise immer gegenseitig frohe Weihnachten gewünscht. Er bekam Neuigkeiten aus Lindau, wir haben ihm zum Beispiel von den neuen Nachwuchswissenschaftlern berichtet. Gleichzeitig schrieb Elom uns aus dem Togo, Marokko oder aus Frankreich – je nachdem, wo er gerade war –, wenn es bei ihm etwas Neues gab. Er hat seine wissenschaftliche Laufbahn mit uns geteilt, die Forschungsarbeiten, die er veröffentlicht hat und seine wichtigsten Ergebnisse. Vor zwei Jahren hatten wir die Idee, dass er uns wieder besuchen könnte; im Dezember letzten Jahres haben wir dann für den Sommer geplant – und jetzt sitzt er uns gegenüber!

 

Wie war es, einander wiederzusehen?

GF: Wir haben uns am Bahnhof getroffen und waren sehr glücklich, uns wieder zu sehen. Es war sofort wieder diese besondere Wärme und Frische im Raum. Wir haben direkt wieder begonnen, über Unterschiede und unsere Philosophien zu diskutieren, über die unterschiedlichen Rollen von Eltern und der Familie in unseren Kulturen und so weiter. Wir haben ihn sehr vermisst… unsere Katze hat ihn auch sehr vermisst.

 

Elom at the Bavarian Evening during the Lindau Meeting 2011. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Elom Algago

Elom während des Bayerischen Abends auf der Lindauer Tagung 2011. Credit: Elom Algago

 

Ist er, wie Sie ihn in Erinnerung hatten?

GF: Ja und nein. Er wirkt noch genauso frisch und jung wie damals – aber auch ein bisschen seriöser. Es scheint, als habe er seinen Platz gefunden.

Elom Aglago: Ich glaube, ich bin etwas weiser geworden. Ich bin nicht mehr so kindlich. Ich denke, dass meine Gastfamilie hier in Lindau daran ihren Anteil hat. Sie haben mir geholfen, kulturelle Unterschiede zu verstehen, andere Kulturen zu respektieren und von ihnen zu lernen. Ich glaube, das hat alles mit der Lindauer Tagung angefangen. Ich habe zum ersten Mal erlebt, dass wir alle unterschiedlich, aber vor allen Dingen alle individuell, besonders sind. Und das müssen wir jederzeit berücksichtigen.

 

Sind Sie näher dran, einen Nobelpreis zu bekommen als vor sechs Jahren?

EA: Im Moment steht der Nobelpreis nicht auf meiner persönlichen Agenda (lacht). Ich würde gerne administrative Verantwortlichkeiten übernehmen, um den Transfer von Wissen, Technologien und auch Verantwortung nach Afrika zu verbessern. Viele Afrikaner verlieren sich in ihrem Ehrgeiz und sind sich der Mechanismen nicht bewusst, wie sie ihre Ambitionen in die Tat umsetzen können. Ich möchte dabei helfen und plane eine Mischung aus diesen persönlichen Zielen und der Weiterführung meiner derzeitigen Forschung.

 

Haben Sie immer so gute Erfahrungen mit den Nachwuchswissenschaftlern gemacht wie mit Elom?

GF: Es ist immer wieder eine tolle Möglichkeit, Menschen zu treffen, die die Welt nach vorne bringen können. Alle Nachwuchswissenschaftler waren sehr höflich und haben sich an die Situation angepasst. Sie waren immer sehr dankbar und begierig, in Kontakt zu treten und jede Information in sich auf zu nehmen.

Der erste Zugang zur Welt – Gastfamilie Ober

Gastfamilie Ober nimmt seit 2013 Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei sich auf. Bisher waren immer junge Forscherinnen und Forscher aus Asien bei ihnen, zum Beispiel aus Korea, Taiwan oder Thailand. Häufig kommen zwei Nachwuchswissenschaftler gleichzeitig: Sie können in der Ferienwohnung übernachten. Sohn David (9) genießt die Anwesenheit der ‘fremden’ Gäste und hilft seinen Eltern als Gastgeber.

 

Gastfamilie Ober mit ihren zwei Nachwuchswissenschaftlern Nopphon Weeranoppanant („Nop“, links), Cholpisit Kiattisewee („Ice“, zweiter von rechts) und ihr Gast Pree-Cha Kiatkirakajorn („Joe“ rechts). Credit: Courtesy of Catharina Ober

Gastfamilie Ober mit ihren zwei Nachwuchswissenschaftlern Nopphon Weeranoppanant („Nop“, links), Cholpisit Kiattisewee („Ice“, zweiter von rechts) und ihrem Gast Pree-Cha Kiatkirakajorn („Joe“ rechts). Credit: Catharina Ober

 

Warum sind Sie Gastfamilie geworden?

Cathrin Ober: Meine Nichte Theresa hat damals vorgeschlagen, dass wir Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei uns aufnehmen. Wir waren eher unbedarft und haben gar nicht darüber nachgedacht, Gastfamilie zu werden. Theresa war definitiv die treibende Kraft hinter der Entscheidung. Sie hat schon vor fünf Jahren, als sie erst 14 Jahre alt war, gewusst, dass sie Physik studieren will und ist ganz begeistert von den Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen. Sie war damals auch schon bei einigen Veranstaltungen mit dabei – beim Grill & Chill zum Beispiel und bei den Matinees. Sie hat uns überzeugt, Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei uns aufzunehmen und hat versprochen, sich während der Tagung um sie zu kümmern. Als dann die ersten Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei uns waren, war unser Sohn David ganz begeistert von unserem ‘fremden’ Besuch. Er hat zum Beispiel jeden Morgen das Frühstück für sie vorbereitet. Er war damals erst fünf Jahre alt! Wenn er nicht so engagiert gewesen wäre, hätten wir das vielleicht nicht weiter gemacht, nachdem meine Nichte von Lindau weggezogen ist. Die Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen sind für uns als Stadt natürlich eine tolle Sache. Und dass alles so gut funktioniert, liegt eben auch daran, dass jeder mitmacht. Wir finden es gut, unseren Teil beizutragen.

Unser Sohn war ganz begeistert von unserem ‘fremden’ Besuch

Wie ist es, Gastfamilie während der Lindauer Tagungen zu sein, vor allem mit einem Kind?

CO: Es ist immer ein großer Spaß. Uns kommt zu Gute, dass die Wissenschaftler so ein volles Programm haben. Mein Mann und ich sind beide voll berufstätig und machen das Ganze nebenher. Obwohl wir nicht super viel Zeit haben, waren alle Nachwuchswissenschaftler immer sehr dankbar. Am einzigen freien Abend kochen wir für sie ein typisch deutsches Essen. Dieses Jahr gab es Kässpätzle mit geschwenkten Zwiebeln und Sauerkraut für unsere zwei thailändischen Gäste Nop und Ice. Unsere diesjährigen Nachwuchswissenschaftler waren bisher die lustigsten Gäste. Es war der Hit mit ihnen! Sie waren glücklich um jeden Kontakt. Sie haben sich sehr um David bemüht, haben zum Beispiel Tischkicker mit ihm gespielt und wild durcheinander geschwatzt. Vor ein paar Jahren konnte er ja noch kein Englisch sprechen, da ging alles mit Zeichensprache. Jetzt kann er schon ein paar Worte Englisch und probiert es aus. Das finde ich natürlich sehr gut; das ist eine tolle Sache für die Kinder in Gastfamilien. Es ist ein Öffnen zur Welt, sein erster Zugang zur Welt. Er war bei allem mit dabei und genießt jeden Moment. Es ist auch immer er, der die Nachwuchswissenschaftler beim ersten Treffen am Bahnhof als erster findet. David studiert ihre Fotos im Vorhinein und sucht die richtigen Nachwuchswissenschaftler dann am Bahnhof heraus (lacht).

Während des Interviews kommt Sohn David mit seinem Pullover mit der Aufschrift “Time to go and change the world“ herein. Auf die Frage, wie er es findet, dass jedes Jahr Nachwuchswissenschaftler zu Besuch kommen, sagt er: „Schon cool!“

 

Sind sie mit den Nachwuchswissenschaftlern in Kontakt geblieben, die bei Ihnen zu Gast waren?

CO: Wir sind bisher mit keinem unserer Gäste in Kontakt geblieben. Ich denke, dass es wirklich schwer ist, wenn man einander nur für eine Woche kennengelernt hat. Aber wenn wir wieder Kontakt aufnehmen wollten, dann wäre das sicher mit allen möglich. Unsere Nachwuchswissenschaftler dieses Jahr haben uns sehr direkt gesagt, dass die Hölle losbrechen würde, wenn wir einen Fuß auf Thailand setzen, ohne dass wir uns bei ihnen melden (lacht). Wir zeigen ihnen, wie schön Lindau ist und das war es dann. Wir sind auch nicht so versiert in den Naturwissenschaften. Mit keinem haben wir jemals wirklich über sein Fachgebiet gesprochen. Wir sprechen eher über die Länder und Sitten und die Schwerpunkte im Leben der Nachwuchswissenschaftler.

Ice und Nop waren ebenfalls begeistert von der „tollen Erfahrung“ (Ice) bei ihrer „wundervollen Gastfamilie“ (Nop). Besonders gut gefallen hat beiden der Austausch zu den kulturellen Unterschieden. Die Gespräche beim gemeinsamen Essen waren für Nop ein „sehr wichtiger Teil meiner Erinnerungen an Lindau. Und Spätzle war mein absoluter Favorit!“ (Nop).

 

Eine Familie fürs Leben in Lindau – Gastfamilie Heller

Herr und Frau Heller engagieren sich als Gastfamilie seit 2012. Seitdem haben sie jedes Jahr mindestens einen Nachwuchswissenschaftler während der Lindauer Nobelpreisträgertagungen bei sich zu Hause begrüßt.

 

Gastfamilie Heller und Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin Dissaya aus Thailand. Credit: Courtesy of Dissaya Pornpattananangkul

Gastfamilie Heller und Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin Dissaya aus Thailand. Credit: Dissaya Pornpattananangkul

 

Warum haben Sie sich entschieden, Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei sich aufzunehmen?

Herr Heller: Ich habe zehn Jahre im Ausland gelebt und weiß deshalb, dass es schön ist, wenn man Zugang zu Locals bekommt, und bei Bedarf auf ihre Unterstützung zählen kann. Jeder möchte gerne Gastfreundschaft genießen; was im Umkehrschluss dann heißt, diese auch selbst anzubieten. In gewisser Weise kann man so, auch ohne in ein Flugzeug zu steigen, die Welt etwas besser kennenlernen und verstehen. Schließlich bin ich an Wissenschaft im Allgemeinen interessiert, im Besonderen an Astrophysik, Medizin und an Ökonomie.

In gewisser Weise kann man so, auch ohne in ein Flugzeug zu steigen, die Welt etwas besser kennenlernen und verstehen

 Wie ist es, während der Lindauer Tagungen Gastfamilie zu sein?

H: Es bedeutet tolerant und offen zu sein, Rücksicht zu nehmen und einer fremden Person einen Vertrauensbonus entgegen zu bringen. Es ist auf jeden Fall immer spannend, wenn ein völlig unbekannter Mensch ankommt und von einer Minute auf die andere zum Familienmitglied auf Zeit wird. Grundsätzlich ist es eine Bereicherung mit diesen Gästen Zeit zu verbringen und sich auszutauschen und damit ist es die kleinen Anstrengungen auf jeden Fall wert. Die Nachwuchswissenschaftler, die nach Lindau kommen, sind eine globale Elite. So ist es nicht überraschend, dass es angenehme, interessante, fähige und letztlich auch erstaunlich reife Persönlichkeiten sind. Leider ist es uns noch nicht gelungen, einen der Gäste dazu zu bewegen sich hier beruflich nieder zu lassen, obwohl jeder dieser Wissenschaftler ein Gewinn für Deutschland wäre.

 

Sie hatten schon viele Nachwuchswissenschaftler aus verschiedenen Ländern zu Gast. Gab es große Unterschiede zwischen ihnen?

H: Unsere Beobachtung ist, dass sich die jüngere und mobile Generation in der globalisierten Welt immer weiter annähert. Die Träume und Wünsche sind, trotz aller tradierten kulturellen Unterschiede, die gleichen: Sie möchten eine Familie gründen, sich beruflich entfalten, ein Haus besitzen, reisen sowie in einem gewissen Wohlstand, in Frieden und in Sicherheit leben. Vielleicht bedeutet diese globale Annäherung eine Reduktion kultureller Vielfalt, aber aus meiner Sicht überwiegen die positiven Auswirkungen, da Homogenität wie zum Beispiel das Sprechen der gleichen Sprache verbindend wirkt.

 

Können Sie sich an besondere Schlüsselmomente mit den Nachwuchswissenschaftlern erinnern, die Ihnen im Kopf geblieben sind?

H: 2013 hatten wir eine Nachwuchswissenschaftlerin aus Thailand zu Gast: Dissaya. Mit ihr hatten wir von Beginn an direkt einen sehr guten Draht. Sie ist zu einer Freundin geworden und wir haben mit ihr eine dauerhafte Verbindung, obwohl uns tausende von Kilometern trennen. Während der Tagung hatten wir einige tiefgehende Gespräche bei einem Glas Rotwein. Wir haben über wichtige Dinge des Lebens gesprochen: was es bedeutet, älter zu werden, um eines zu nennen. Das waren berührende Momente. Ich habe sie auch auf eine Motorradtour mitgenommen und ihr die Umgebung gezeigt. Nach ihrem Besuch bei uns, kam Dissaya nach ein paar Monaten sogar noch einmal zurück, um zwei Wochen Urlaub bei uns zu machen. Sie hat uns auch zu ihrer Hochzeit eingeladen, leider haben wir es nicht geschafft, dabei zu sein.

 

Lindau Alumna Dissaya aus Thailand schrieb uns zu ihrer Erfahrung in der Gastfamilie.

Dissaya Pornpattananangkul: Vor dem ersten Treffen mit meiner Gastfamilie erwartete ich nur, Erfahrungen mit den Menschen vor Ort auszutauschen. Als ich dann das erste Mal in Lindau ankam, wartete Herr Heller dort auf mich, um mich abzuholen. Von diesem Moment an hat sich meine Gastfamilie wirklich rührend um mich gekümmert. Sie haben mir viele Orte in Lindau gezeigt. Es war eine der wertvollsten Erfahrungen, die ich im Ausland gemacht habe. Durch sie habe ich für das ganze Leben eine Familie in Lindau bekommen. […] Jeder Moment hier war wirklich sehr besonders. Herr Heller hat mich einmal auf eine Motorradtour in die Berge mitgenommen. Die Sicht war fantastisch. Das war wirklich eine der schönsten Szenerien, die ich je gesehen habe.

 

Alumna Dissaya at the motorcycle tour. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Mr. Heller

Lindau Alumna Dissaya bei ihrer Motorradtour mit Herrn Heller. Credit: Heller

Wir danken den drei Gastfamilien herzlich für Ihr Engagement, Ihre Offenheit und die interessanten Gespräche.

The World at Home in Lindau

For nine years, host families from Lindau and the surrounding area have welcomed young scientists from all over the world who are participating in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Through their engagement, the young scientists avail of the unique opportunity to get to know Lindau and its people in personal surroundings and learn more about their lives and culture first-hand. 

 

Reunited After Six Years – Elom Aglago and His Lindau Host Family

Brigitte Trojan and Hans Schweickert have been participating in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings as a host family since 2011. They have already welcomed seven young scientists from all over the world (Egypt, Japan, Georgia, Chile, Iran, Lebanon and Togo). In 2011, young scientist Elom Aglago from Togo was their first guest. They have kept in touch during the past six years, and this year, Elom came back to Lindau to meet his host family again.

 

Elom Algago and his host family in Lindau. Credit: Christoph Schumacher/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Elom Aglago and his host family in Lindau. Credit: Christoph Schumacher/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

How did you decide to become a host family?

Brigitte Trojan/Hans Schweickert: We had just moved here to Lindau, into a new house with garden, when we thought that we might welcome a young scientist from abroad. We love being at home, we love living here in Lindau, but we are also open to new cultures and perspectives. In addition, we are very enthusiastic about the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. So, for us, it was a perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the world. It is also a great way for us to improve our English.

For us, it was a perfect opportunity to meet people from all over the world

How do you remember Elom’s first stay here in Lindau?

BT/HS: We felt happy and privileged to host Elom here in 2011. We had breakfast together every morning and talked about the daily programme. And every evening, he gave us a briefing about the day at the Lindau Meeting. We got lots of inspiration from him. He always liked to discuss things with us, and we truly appreciate that.

 

How did you stay in contact over the past six years?

BT/HS: We occasionally exchanged e-mails. For example, we wished each other a Merry Christmas each year. We sent him the news from Lindau, told him about the new young scientists, and in return received news from Togo, Morocco or France, depending on where he lived at the time. He shared the progress of his scientific career with us, the papers he published and his most important findings. Two years ago, we had the idea that he could visit us again. Last December, we have planned his visit for this summer – and now he is here again.

 

How was it to see each other again?

BT/HS: We met at the railway station and were happy to see each other again. Immediately, there was the familiar warmth and the same spark. We right away started again to discuss differences and in our philosophies, and to talk about the roles of family and parents in our different cultures and so on. We missed him, and our cat missed him as well (laughs).

 

Is he the same as you remember him?

BT/HS: Yes and No. He is as young and lively as he was then – but also a little bit more serious; it seems as if he has arrived where he wants to be.

 

Elom at the Bavarian Evening during the Lindau Meeting 2011. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Elom Algago

Elom at the Bavarian Evening during the Lindau Meeting 2011. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Elom Aglago

Elom Aglago: I have become wiser; I’m not as childlike as I was then. I think that my host family contributed in some way to that; they helped me to understand differences in cultures, to respect other cultures and learn from them. I think it all started with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. I experienced for the first time that we are all different but unique and special. We have to take that into account.

 

Are you closer to getting the Nobel Prize now than you were back in 2012?

EA: Personally, getting the Nobel Prize is not on my agenda at the moment (laughs). I would like to take on administrative position from which I can improve the transfer of knowledge, technology and responsibility to Africa. Many Africans get lost in their ambitions, not aware of the correct procedures. I plan to do this and continue with my research at the same time.

 

Did you have such good experiences with every young scientist you welcomed?

BT/HS: It is always a great opportunity to meet people who are able to bring the world forwards. All young scientists were very polite and got along well in our home. They were always very thankful; and were eager to engage in dialogue and to take in all information.

 

 

 The First Access to the World – Host Family Ober

The Ober family has been welcoming young scientists in Lindau since 2013. Thus far, all of them have been from Asia: Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Often, two young scientists stay at their holiday apartment at the same time. Their son David enjoys the company of the foreign visitors and helps his parents as host.

 

Host family Ober with their two young scientists Nopphon Weeranoppanant (“Nop”, left) and Cholpisit Kiattisewee (“Ice”, second from right) and guest Pree-Cha Kiatkirakajorn (“Joe”, right). Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Catharina Ober

Host family Ober with their two young scientists Nopphon Weeranoppanant (“Nop”, left) and Cholpisit Kiattisewee (“Ice”, second from right) and guest Pree-Cha Kiatkirakajorn (“Joe”, right). Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Catharina Ober

 

Why did you become a host family for the Lindau Meetings?

Cathrin Ober: My niece Theresa came up with the idea of acting as a host family for young scientists. We wouldn’t have thought about if it wasn’t for her; she was the driving force behind our decision. She already knew five years ago, when she was 14, that she would become a physicist and had been at various events of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, for example, at the Grill & Chill or at the Matinee. She convinced us to volunteer as a host family and promised to care for the young scientists during their stay. When the first young scientists came to our home, our son, David, also became enthusiastic about the visitors. For example, he prepared the breakfasts for them. He was only five years old! If he wouldn’t have been that committed, we may have stopped after my niece had left Lindau. […] The Lindau Meetings are wonderful for our city. Everything is always working out that well, because everyone plays their part to the full. We are happy to contribute our bit.

Our son also became enthusiastic about the visitors

How is it to be a host family during the Lindau Meetings, especially with a young child?

CO: It is always a lot of fun! We benefit from the tightly packed programme of the young scientists. I mean, my husband and I are both fully employed; we’re doing this alongside our day jobs. Although we don’t have much time, the young scientists were always very grateful. We do have the mornings together, and on the only free evening, we are always cooking a German meal for our guests. This year, we made Kässpätzle, sautéed onions and Sauerkraut. Up to now, the two Thai boys we had here this year have been the most fun, it was amazing with them. They played tabletop soccer with David. They always tried to chat with him. In previous years, it was only sign language, but now he knows a few words in English. I think that it is a good thing for him and the other children in host families. It is his first access to the world. He has always joined when we spent time with them, and it is always him who first finds the young scientists at the train station. He looks at their photos before we pick them up at the station, and he always spots them right away!

During the interview, their son David enters the room, wearing a jumper with the inscription ’Time to go and change the world’. When asked how it is to have young scientists at their home every year, he simply replied: “Quite cool!”

 

Have you stayed in contact with the young scientists you have welcomed here in Lindau?

CO: We have never stayed in contact with any of our guests. I really do think that it is hard if you only get to know each other for one week. But if we’d like to get in touch again, it would surely be possible with all of them. Our young scientists this year were quite direct and said that all hell would break loose if we were to set foot into Thailand without getting in touch with them (laughs). We show them the beauty of Lindau and that’s all. We’re not well versed in natural sciences. That’s why we never really talked about their disciplines. We talked about their countries and customs, about their focuses in life.

The two young scientists were also enthusiastic about their stay at the Ober’s house. They told us about the “incredible experience” (Ice) with “an amazing host family” (Nop). They were particularly pleased with the exchange of their cultures. The conversations during the meals were “very important parts of my memory of Lindau. And Spätzle was my favourite! :)” (Nop)

 

 

Lindau Family for Life – Host Family Heller

Mrs. and Mr. Heller are a host family since 2012. Every year, they welcome at least one young scientist at their home.

 

Host family Heller and Alumna Dissaya in Lindau. Credit: Courtesy of Dissaya Pornpattananangkul

Host family Heller and Alumna Dissaya in Lindau. Credit: Courtesy of Dissaya Pornpattananangkul

 

Why did you decide to host young scientists?

Mr. Heller: I have spent ten years of my life abroad. I know what it’s like to be a foreigner in another country and how nice it is to get access to the local people and to get their support. Everybody wishes to enjoy hospitality: this means that you have to offer it yourself. In that way, you can get to know the world without stepping onto an airplane.
In addition, I do have a special interest in science in general and in astrophysics, medicine and economic sciences in particular.

In that way, you can get to know the world without stepping onto an airplane.

What is it like to be a host family?

H: Being a host family means to be tolerant and open. It implies to be considerate of others and to give someone you don’t know the benefit of the doubt. It is always exciting when a completely unknown person becomes part of your family from one minute to the next. In general, it is always an enrichment to spend time with those guests. The young scientists that come to Lindau are global elite. It is thus not surprising that they are pleasant, interesting, capable and astonishingly mature personalities. Unfortunately, we have not yet succeeded in persuading one of our guests to move to Germany and work here, although each of the scientists would mean an enormous gain for our country.

 

Were there huge differences between the different young scientists you have welcomed in Lindau up to now?

H: In our experience, the young and mobile generation in a global world is coming closer together. Their dreams and wishes are – despite all cultural differences – the same: they want to start a family, to develop professionally, to travel as well as to live in wealth, peace and security. Although there might be a loss of cultural diversity, I believe that the positive impact of this is predominant due to the fact that homogeneity has a connecting effect.

 

Is there a key moment you remember with one of the young scientists?

H: In 2013, we welcomed a young scientist from Thailand: Dissaya. With her, we immediately had a special connection. She really became our friend even though thousands of kilometers are dividing us. During the Lindau Meeting, we had some deep conversations over a glass of red wine. We talked about the important things in life: for example, about what it means to grow old. Those moments were quite touching. I also took her out on a motorcycle tour once to show her the surroundings. A few months later, Dissaya came back to Lindau to stay with us for a two-week vacation. She also invited us to her wedding a few years ago; unfortunately, we weren’t able to go.

 

After the interview with Mr. Heller, we asked Dissaya to also comment on her experience with her host family.

Dissaya Pornpattananangkul: Before meeting with the family, I was only expecting to exchange experiences with the local people. The first time I arrived in Lindau by train, Mr. Heller was there waiting to pick me up. From that moment onwards, my host family took care of me so well. They showed me many places in Lindau. It was one of the most valuable experiences abroad for me. Staying with the host family, I gained a family in Lindau for life. […] The whole time I was there, every moment was very special. Mr. Heller took me out to ride a motorcycle in the mountains. The view was fantastic. It was really one of the most beautiful sceneries I have ever seen.

 

Alumna Dissaya at the motorcycle tour. Photo/Credit: Courtesy of Mr. Heller

Alumna Dissaya at the motorcycle tour. Photo/Credit: Heller

We thank the Lindau host families for their engagement as well as the open and interesting conversations.

After Nerd Heaven: Once a Lindau Attendee, Always a Lindau Alum

It has been a few weeks since the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Chemistry and while you probably have gotten back in the swing of things at work and university, you probably are still walking around with a huge grin on your face. I know I am. I can’t stop smiling when I think about my experience at Lindau. The lectures! The laughter! The lifetime connections I forged! (And don’t forget about the food! Oh, the glorious Bavarian and Mexican food!) It was an unforgettable – and unreproducible – experience.

Now your colleagues are probably wondering why you keep showing off your pearly whites – what are you so happy about? They might not get it, but we do. I attended as a journalist, blogger and the chair of the Science Careers panel, and I get it and I get you. You experienced something amazing – you experienced Nerd Heaven. You were in a place that celebrates success and curiosity and insight and nature and encourages you to be scientific pioneers, exploring the frontiers of knowledge and our universe. You participated in a once-in-a-lifetime intersection of intelligence and impact. Of course you are still fondly thinking of it!

 

Young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Now while your Lindau experience may have seemed like it only lasted one week, let me assure you that that is incorrect. The Lindau Meeting is simply the first step in a continuum of Lindau experiences you are about to enjoy. And you won’t be alone in this journey, because as a participant in the meeting, you now share the singular experience that binds you with every other Lindau attendee. You are a Lindau Alumnus or Alumna, and this is something special.

Alumni are extremely important to organisations and Lindau is no different. The success of future Lindau Meetings is dependent upon your success. As scientists, you are society’s gatekeepers, providing us access to information and ideas that move us forward. As Lindau Alumni, you matter, because you make science happen. And therefore you make Lindau happen.

So as new alumni, here are a few ideas to solidify and grow the networking momentum that you experienced at Lindau as you move beyond the place of Lindau and towards the concept of Lindau:

  • Review the Science Careers panel: you are sure to get additional insight into how and why to invest in your career in science, how you can make an impact, how you can pursue your career, what careers are accessible to you (hint: it’s limited only by your imagination!), and how to go about career planning. The panel provided invaluable advice and if you watch it again with fresh eyes, you may catch something you didn’t before. I know I did!

  • Keep your contact information updated: the Lindau folks will be contacting you. They want to keep you involved and engaged in Lindau and with each other. They are invested in your success in the future. So make sure you keep them apprised when you change jobs, institutions, and fields, and when you have triumphs. Key point – when you win the Nobel Prize, make sure you call them immediately after you hear from Sweden! But seriously, stay in touch, and take note that even if at some point you decide to pursue a non-traditional profession or arena, or decide to leave science (seemingly) altogether (fancy a career in cupcakes, do you?), you should still stay in touch. You are still an Alum. You still are still part of the Lindau ecosystem and you are still part of the Lindau family.
  • Take advantage of Lindau Alumni resources: over the next few months and years, you will be hearing about many projects and programmes that Lindau is planning to bolster its alumni network and create opportunities for you to succeed. They will be holding in-person events around the world and webinars related to career development, professional advancement, and job and career planning. They will be enhancing social media networking, so join them and contribute to the conversation. Be sure to join the Lindau Alumni Network. The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings aims to grow the alumni network and continuously provide value to Lindau Alumni to meet your professional needs and objectives. So you can also let them know how they can help you!
  • Go through the calling (aka business) cards that you collected at the conference. Reach out to those people and let them know how nice it was to meet them at the Lindau Meeting. Connect with them on career networks, and then stay connected with them. Keep them apprised of your career progression. When you know that you are attending Conference X, email them and ask them if they will be too and see if you can schedule a dinner or a coffee appointment. Stay in touch. These are your peers and they are walking similar roads as you. Don’t let the networking you did at Lindau be for nothing. Cultivate those relationships.

 

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

  • Follow up with the laureates! You want to build a win-win partnership with the people in your networks, and the laureates are no different. So keep them apprised of your triumphs and trials, seek their advice, and help them to help you. And of course, look for ways you can help them, too! For ideas on how young scientists can provide value to leaders in your field, check out my article, Networking with Dr. God, in Science/ScienceCareers, featuring Nobel Laureate and Lindau participant, William Phillips.
  • Promote your Lindau experiences. Volunteer to give a presentation at you institution about the Lindau Meeting and experience, write an article for your local or university or association publication, offer to meet with colleagues who might have an interest in attending. Be a champion for Lindau so others can learn of its relevance and participate in it and invest in it (and become alumni too!).

 The most important thing is to remember you are part of a global team of individuals who have the privilege to be Lindau Alumni, and with great privilege comes great responsibility. Yes, there are many benefits you will receive as an active Lindau Alum – career advice and resources, ideas and inspiration, networking, and of course, greater potential impact of your science. But there is also something of value you can provide the scientific community, and that is to take the information, knowledge and principles that you gained at Lindau and disseminate them. Educate. Inspire. Connect. Lindau is more than a place, it is a platform and you must ensure that the ideas shared here are acted upon. As Lindau Alumni, you have that power.

Stay tuned for Lindau Alumni news, and again, welcome to the family! Your adventure is just beginning, and you have thousands of compatriots (representing 80+ countries) aligned with you to advance science, advance society, and advance humankind. I can’t wait to see what you and your Alumni brethren will do.

 

Young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Scientists Should Actively Participate in Public Debate

At the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, this year more than in any other year, scientists felt the need to speak up about the way that public policy is intervening in the future of scientific research.

Now, as during other times in our history, we are facing political scientific disbelief and discussion around scientific observations. Notorious predecessors that faced a much harsher fame were Giordano Bruno or Galileo Galilei, whose theories nobody would doubt nowadays.  At the meeting there was enough time for informal chats and public debates around these themes. As a participant of the press talk organised by Deutsche Welle, I brought forward the idea that it is our responsibility, as scientists, to be engaged with society. I would imagine this a bit like in Athens in the old days, when citizens had a say in matters that concerned them. Scientists should be communicators, and they should be responsible for being able to give back to society and to politics –something that is probably expect from us. We organise marathons, cake bake events and many more initiatives to raise money for research, but what do we do next? Do we communicate effectively where the money raised ended up?

 

Melania Zauri and Aurelio Nuño Mayer, Secretary of Education, Mexico, during a Press Talk at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Melania Zauri and Arturo Borja Tamayo, Director of International Cooperation, CONACYT (National Council of Science and Technology), Mexico, during a Press Talk at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Most of the basic and some of the applied research is funded through public money coming from the European Research Council in Europe or the National Institutes of Health in the USA, to name some examples. This means that taxpayers were subject to some form of deductions in their wages to support science. It would be ideal if scientists themselves felt the responsibility to communicate in turn with citizens and funding institutions, because this would foster more collaborations, eventually share the joy for discovery and ultimately even attract more people into science (for example, in a larger citizen science initiative where people see the clear benefit to society by donating part of their time or body, as in clinical research, for the benefit of mankind). Furthermore, funding agencies request more and more that research is communicated to both specialised and non-specialised audiences. Indeed, the public dissemination of science was another strong topic at the Lindau Meeting, which was brought forward by Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie during his talk. He advocated open access journals and preprint servers. He announced the good news that preprint servers are now, after being already established in biology and physics, also being introduced in the field of chemistry! Among the advantages of preprint servers, he mentioned the universal availability of the research, which helps to expose scientific findings to a larger audience and to communicate it back to society. Specialised science communicators will also have access and can team up with scientists to foster the connection to society.

 

 

Ultimately, every contribution will count, and I was honoured to find, while writing this article, that my views are shared by Nobel Laureate Ada Yonath as she expressed during an interview in 2010. I would like to conclude with her enthusiastic quote: “Society financed this science, if not directly, then the education and the way I got there, so society should get back what I found. […] And as for making contact with the layperson, I think young people, teenagers and those in their early twenties don’t have enough exposure to science; they don’t know what it is. I myself have been working on this for many years – I give lectures at many different events and to different groups.”

A Long Road to Becoming a Chemist

The path to my professional career as a chemist was not easy but constructive and challenging in some ways. I grew up in a small, quiet and traditional town in the state of Mexico Texcoco. Both of my parents had to overcome severe economic difficulties to pursue their own career in biology. Thankfully, I was blessed with their pledge to provide me a good education.

I attended a private school to learn English and because the academic programme was more challenging. During my basic education, I participated in several science and academic contests and I enjoyed the school profoundly. My generation was the first that stayed at home, there were not more chances to play in the streets or the neighbourhood, because of the numerous cars in the streets and the worsening of security. Then, in the middle school, I attended a math workshop where I learned tricks to do arithmetic operations in a flash and to solve math puzzles. With that training, I was selected to participate in Math Counts and the Pierre Fermat contest. Later, I enrolled in the EPT-UAEM public high school and was benefitted with a scholarship. During my last year there, I was invited to train for the regional Chemistry Olympiads. I was selected to continue to the state and furthermore the national contest.  That stage was meaningful for my further decision to study chemistry since I was selected to attend Mexico’s National Olympiad of Chemistry. This privilege implied a strong commitment by means of travelling two hours to the school of Chemistry of UAEM-Mexico to be trained for the competition, and then two hours more for the way back. I travelled with my mother after the school in an old van provided by the principal two or three days a week during some months. We arrived at home almost at midnight, exhausted but enthusiastic about my training and the hopeful support within my family. I valued that experience greatly because other peers and I received fascinating lessons with devoted teachers and scientists.

 

Photo: Courtesy of Ana Torres

Ana Torres in front of the Rudder Fountain on the Texas A&M University campus, Photo: Courtesy of Ana Torres

 

After the enriching experience of attending the national contest and motivated by my teachers I decided to study chemistry in the School of Chemistry of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. So therefore, I spent four hours on a round-trip each day to Mexico City to pursue my bachelor degree. Sometimes I travelled by car with my father before dawn, but other days I had tiring trips in the overcrowded subway and the bus, which arrived in the middle of nowhere, where my parents picked me up. Fortunately, quantum chemistry captivated me and I joined a theoretical research workgroup after I had my first course in that subject area.

One year later, I got my bachelor degree with honours and continued my postgraduate studies in chemistry supported by a grant of the National Council of Science and Technology. Usually, there are very few students willing to pursue a career in Theoretical Chemistry in my program. It is worth mentioning that while I studied, my advisor and other theorists designed the Quantum and Computational Chemistry post-graduate courses – indeed some of the lectures were given for the very first time. Furthermore, at that time I started my own family and I had to organise my time efficiently to get a functional balance between motherhood, research and teaching. Therefore, through family shared efforts, hard-work and passion for science I graduated with honours, gaining the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry, whereas my son developed a love for math.

 

Ana Torres with her parents, Photo: Courtesy of Ana Toores

Ana Torres with her parents, Socorro Hernandez and Pablo Torres, at the National Autonomus Unviersity of Mexico, Photo: Courtesy of Ana Torres

 

I became a teacher and mentor for undergraduate students just after I got my Master’s degree. Then, for the Ph.D., I moved to the Materials Research Institute where Prof. Serguei Fomine became my advisor. From him I learned a strong discipline of work and a structured way to analyse the chemical problems. This contributed positively since I graduated in less time than my postgraduate program demarked. After I graduated, I was accepted for a postdoctoral position within the group of Prof. Perla Balbuena in Texas A&M University. Thus, I dealt with almost six months of paperwork to get a scholarship and arrange the immigration documentation for my son, my husband and for me. I arrived in the US one month later than the start date of the programme given the migratory issues. At present, I am grateful for the support and academic guidance of Prof. Balbuena and committed to work hard on my research project. My family and I are partaking this opportunity to grow in academic and personal areas and I shall respond to their great effort. Science has opened me the doors to travel to countries abroad and to build collaborations and friendships. Currently, I am member of the Graduate Women in Science organisation, the Toastmasters club as well as the group of Bible studies for women and I enjoy sharing Spanish classes.

 

Lindau Alumni 2017 Ana Torres and Octavio Saucedo, Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, former President of the Mexican Academy of Sciences Jose Franco and Director of International Cooperation CONACYT, Arturo Borja (from left to right) after a discussion on Public Policy at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Photo: Courtesy of Ana Torres

Lindau Alumni 2017 Ana Torres and Octavio Saucedo, Nobel Laureate Mario Molina, Jose Franco, former President of the Mexican Academy of Sciences, and Arturo Borja, Director of International Cooperation CONACYT, (from left to right) after a discussion on Public Policy at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Photo: Courtesy of Ana Torres

 

The main goal of my current research project is to perform a theoretical study of the interfacial phenomena relevant for the development of new generation rechargeable batteries. Likewise, I will address the confinement effect exerted by molecular sieves, solvents, nano-structured materials or an inert gas matrix over the chemical reactions, which are important for chemical catalysis. It is expected that the outcome of this project would support experimental research that has been developed for both the description and design of battery materials and catalytic systems. Nowadays, it is important to assist the novel frontier materials design (with enhanced features) using theoretical methods and computational calculations before being synthetised in the laboratory. This could be very helpful to optimise resources and facilitate the materials implementation for the manufacturing process of technological devices.

Lessons Learned at the Lindau Meeting

My main goal for the Lindau Meeting was not to discuss specific scientific matters (although I must confess that I did), but it was to discuss general problematic issues in science and in society. The meeting exceeded all of my expectations. The Nobel Laureates gave amazing lectures, which were  followed by insightful and enriching discussions. My take away messages were: work hard and pursue your goals, keep your eyes wide open for unexpected results, be flexible and do not fear the unknown, always question yourself and your observations.

 

Matías Acosta with other young scientists and Nobel Laureate George Smoot during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Matías Acosta with young scientist Jeffrey Poon and Nobel Laureate George Smoot during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The first lesson learned: science is not a separate entity from society. We, young scientists, should communicate science to broad audiences. As pointed out by chemist Michael Lerch, we should remember our role within society and clarify the expectations of our work. This is especially true if our project is financed by public funding. We should not forget though that there are scientific reporters quite eager to communicate our work. So we have not one but two approaches to improving the disconnection between science and the public.

Young scientists are facing a constantly growing pressure of having to publish. Publishing for the sake of publishing rather than a mean to transmit knowledge has become a reality in many research groups. We are not in a strong position to combat this issue. However, there are some aspects that we should keep in mind to combat it and also improve the quality of publications.

For example, we should always stay ethical. Young scientist Karen Stroobants proposed that an important complement to our doctorate would be to receive ethical training, which received general support. We can also ask senior colleagues in case we have ethical issues or even search for ethical guidelines such as proposed by the National Academy of Sciences. Staying ethical is, in fact, part of our responsibility to help us establish a trustful connection with the public.

 

Karen Stroobants, Michael Lerch and Director-General of the OPCW Ahmet Üzümcü during a panel discussion at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: lvd/Lindau Nobel Laureate Mettings

Karen Stroobants, Michael Lerch and Ahmet Üzümcü, Director-General of the OPCW, during the panel discussion Ethics in Science at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Photo/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Furthermore, publishing scientific work does not need to be limited to journals. Preprints precede journal publications and offer an attractive complement. Martin Chalfie highlighted the importance of preprints for open access, a fast time-stamp and potentially a more transparent reviewing process. The preprint archive arXiv has been accepted in the physics community since the 1990s. Currently, analogous preprint archives are being created in other communities too, so we should give them a try.

Martin Chalfie also taught us a remarkable exercise that he carries out in his group: a member of his group selects a preprinted paper on a cutting-edge topic related to their own research. They discuss this study during their group meetings, and constructive comments are sent to the preprint authors. This exercise raises new ideas in his group as well as in the authors’ one. It also helps to improve the quality of the future journal publication. This seems like a great scheme to adopt.

 

Martin Chalfie during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Martin Chalfie during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

The atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was unique. I met inspiring colleagues from all over the world, with whom I shared very nice experiences. Taking part in the Lindau Meeting made us feel privileged. We do science because we are curious; we want to understand more about the universe. But we also should keep in mind that our work can have a long-lasting impact in society. I believe that many of the young scientists that I met will become future leaders. So, as young scientist Florencia Marchini said, “when one becomes conscious of the social and economic impact that our work can create, to take action is a matter of responsibility more than an obligation or a choice.” We do not need to open our eyes too wide to see all the problems that science and society are facing; it is our responsibility to get involved to solve them. We learned valuable lessons during the Lindau Meeting; now is the time to put them into practice and share them.

Why Every Young Scientist Should Apply for the Lindau Meeting

Over the last two months I have interviewed several young scientists who participated in #LiNo17 for my “Women in Research” blog – a blog to increase the visibility of women in research. Now after the meeting I contacted them again and they shared their #LiNo17 highlights and impressions with me. Enjoy!


Andrea d’Aquino from the US 

As I sat through each of the Nobel Laureate’s talks, I found that there was a common thread among each of their stories and lessons: persistence, tenacity, creativity and enthusiasm are key ingredients to success. With or without the Nobel Prize, each of these individuals persevered through challenges and remained curious about science; it was with a bit of luck and an immense amount of hard work that these scientists were able to achieve great discoveries and earn the Nobel Prize. Their stories have resonated with me and inspired me to never give up and to never lose sight of why I pursue science: to better understand the world. The Lindau Meeting was a unifying and inspiring experience. The chance to meet these great scientists in person allowed me to better understand and appreciate them not just as Nobel Prize winners but as people who have overcome many of the same obstacles we all face in science every day. They have shone a light on both scientific and political issues facing our world, and have addressed the many personal hurdles they have overcome throughout their careers.

Photo: Courtesy of Andrea d’Aquino

Nobel Laureates and young scientists including Andrea (front) during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Andrea d’Aquino

Along with meeting these inspiring scientists, I am so grateful for the many friendships I have made with students from all around the world. On the final day of the trip, we travelled to Mainau Island and back. On our way back, students from all around the world joined together for an afternoon of dancing and celebrating. This experience was clear evidence of the great friendships and bonds we had built on our trip. Students from all around the world connected over science, food and dancing, and I will always deeply treasure those friendships I made.   

This experience has made a profound impact on me and on my outlook on science and research. I think it’s incredibly important that young scientists — and in particular women and underrepresented minorities in science — have the opportunity to be involved in such an inspiring event. 

Read more about Andrea


Anna Eibel from Austria

Anna with Nobel Laureate Ben Feringa during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Anna on a panel with Nobel Laureate Ben Feringa during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

For me, the Lindau Meeting was a very special meeting. Here, we did not discuss any particular research field in detail, as is typically done at scientific conferences. Instead, we discussed the global issues we face in science – ranging from climate change, green chemistry, carbon dioxide recycling and renewable energies to personalised medicine, antibiotic resistance and many other globally relevant topics, as well as science careers. The broad diversity of research topics introduced in the lectures of the Nobel Laureates gave the input for these “big picture” discussions, and I was impressed by the motivation and passion most of the laureates still show after many decades of doing research.

I particularly enjoyed connecting with the other young scientists, and I became aware of many interesting research fields and opportunities for potential future collaborations and career steps. I think participating in the Lindau Meeting is an excellent opportunity for getting inspired and connecting to scientists all over the world.

Read more about Anna


Antonella Coccia from Argentina

No words can describe the week at the Lindau Meeting. Well, maybe there is one that keeps sounding in my head: inspired. I feel highly inspired after my week at Lindau. The young scientists and the Nobel Laureates have inspired me in so many ways to pursue my career goals. 

Antonella with Nobel Laureate Mario Molina. Photo: Courtesy of Antonella Coccia.

Antonella with Nobel Laureate Mario Molina. Photo: Courtesy of Antonella Coccia

I attended as an undergraduate student, looking for – among other things – fields where to focus my graduate studies. I have found it, and I have found so many people willing to give me advice about it. 

It was the most unforgettable week. I am impressed by how approachable the Nobel Laureates were. They have shown to be incredibly humble even though they were awarded the most relevant prize in science.  They were always happy to answer my questions and to give me advice for my career.

 I am happy that I had the opportunity to share a week with people who have the same interests as me. I made friends from all around the world who taught me about their culture and were always open to discuss current issues taking advantage of our own different perspectives.

I feel so fortunate that I had the chance to experience the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting and I encourage every young scientist to attend it. It will give you a broader perspective of your career and it will give you the unique chance to be surrounded by the best of science.

Read more about Antonella


Diana Montes Grajales from Columbia

Diana Montes Grajales and Jana Kobeissi during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes Grajales

Diana Montes Grajales and Jana Kobeissi during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Diana Montes Grajales

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is extraordinary; it is designed to share the experience and knowledge of the greatest leaders in science, the Nobel Laureates, with the next generation of scientists to encourage us to work hard for the benefit of the world and society. We live in convulsed times in terms of environmental depletion, violence and diseases; and we young scientist are called to help to address all these issues and pursue for a better world. When I applied for this event, I was a young researcher at Universidad Tecnólogica de Bolívar, in Cartagena-Colombia, and I never imagined to be accepted because I thought I was in the periphery of the world, but this is really an international meeting; this year, there were people from more than 70 countries with whom you have the opportunity to talk and plan collaborative work. The organisation and structure of the meeting is great: each of us had a personalised agenda, we had lectures, panel discussions and small group discussions with the Nobel Laureates from key topics in science to life experiences as well as many social activities in which you have the opportunity to interact with both Nobel Laureates and young researchers. Highlights of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in Chemistry were: the importance of developing environmental friendly technologies, working with green chemistry and facing the climate change problem as well as to link society to science, in terms of divulgation and pertinence of the research. There are also specific soft skills to pay attention to in science such as perseverance, passion and ethics. This is a unique experience, I hope you will apply and be the next young researcher in a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting!

Read more about Diana


Emma Danelius from Sweden

Participating in the Lindau Meeting was certainly a great experience in many ways. First, it was truly inspiring to listen to and talk to the Nobel Laureates. They generously shared their exceptional research as well as their life experiences and advice for us young scientists, and I feel really fortunate that I was given the opportunity to partake in this event. 

Photo: Courtesy of Emma Danelius

Emma with Astrid Gräslund, member of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and secretary of the Nobel Committee for Chemistry, and other young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Emma Danelius

The academic dinner was great, with only a few students we got a lot of time to talk to some of the laureates and this was such a memorable night. What I had not expected before attending the Lindau Meeting was the impact that meeting the fellow young scientist would have on me. I was so inspired talking to young scientists from all over the world, all of whom shared the same drive, ambition and passion for science. All these warm, friendly, motivated and interested people created a unique and engaging atmosphere in Lindau, and that together with a great organisation made the meeting so exceptional. I had high expectations before the meeting, yet, they were surpassed. I would encourage every young scientist to use the opportunity to participate in future meetings, it really is a once in a lifetime experience. Especially young female scientist, go to Lindau and meet with other likeminded women like yourselves, with the same ambitions and future goals, it is such an inspiring event and maybe you will end up making some friends for life.

Read more about Emma


Eva Maria Wara Alvarez Pari from Bolivia 

The Lindau meeting has been a long standing intellectual legacy and an opportunity to interact with young scientists from more than 70 countries.  This whole week has reinforced my scientific focus and increased my emphasis in social issues. It gave me the most rewarding experience in my personal life. Nobel Laureates gave me advices to grow intellectually and personally. Running risks in scientific life. The diversity of this meeting has opened me the chance not only to exchange scientific topics of our own research, but it also has allowed me to switch from mine to other fields.

Oleksandra Trofymchuk	and Eva Maria Wara at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Eva Maria Wara

Oleksandra Trofymchuk and Eva Maria Wara at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Eva Maria Wara Alvarez Pari

I was fascinated to get to know more about the Nobel Laureates since I was a child. Unfortunately, in South American countries the chances to meet Nobel Laureates closely are unusual or a matter of luck. Last year, I have heard about eight women who participated in the previous event and it changed my life since then. Now, I cannot believe I belong to that select group of women who have taken part in this meeting. I invite every young scientist around the world to become part of this networking, creating links of scientific cooperation projects. I am pretty sure this event will give your life a 180 degree turn. It is a marathon week of interacting, discussion events with young scientists and laureates which believe it or not, could be extended until midnight.  I reiterate my invitation, and don’t hesitate or tell yourself you don’t feel up to this event. Just apply and give yourself a chance to experiment a transcendental meeting which is waiting for you.

Read more about Eva Maria Wara


Florencia Marchini from Argentina

Before coming to Lindau, I had the silly idea that I was attending a fancy conference and Nobel Laureates were some kind of celebrities that everyone would like to take pictures with. The Lindau Meeting couldn’t have been farther from that. Nobel Laureates not only have enlightened me with their bright ideas but also have touched my heart by revealing their most human side. Every time they showed pictures of themselves as young scientists at the end of their lectures, or talked about being rejected or not having enough money or even of having few time to share with their families and friends, I couldn’t help seeing myself. It was then when I got to understand that they came to tell us that we all are the same, that we all walk in the same direction if we are passionate, if we never give up, if we become experts in what we really like and if we continue in this path even after reaching the top of our careers. 

Florencia (front right) with other young scientists at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Florencia Marchini

Florencia (front, right) with other young scientists at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Florencia Marchini

But close exchange with Nobel Laureates has not been the only amazing experience I have had in Lindau. Sharing one entire week surrounded by young scientist from all over the world and learning that even coming from such different places and cultures we all have similar curiosities, same questions, same difficulties and that we are worried about the same issues, gave me enormous hope and gratitude, as it showed me that science connects us beyond borders and languages, because science is a language itself.

On Saturday at the registration, we were complete strangers to each other. But one week after that, when we left the boat at the end of the meeting, we all felt the power of the wind starting to blow. Something had changed us. We were physically exhausted, mentally blank, emotionally overwhelmed but with the eyes full of pictures and the heart full of hope. We connected, we felt each other.

I am sure that none of us wanted to leave Lindau, but I also think that it was the right time to do it, as we were taking with us the Lindau legacy. Don’t stay locked in the lab, share, connect. Have political awareness as well as social and environmental commitment. Be as persistent as passionate. Don’t feel guilty, feel responsible. Take action, there is plenty of work to do at home. And enjoy science because, as Nobel Laureate Peter Agre said to me, “Science is an amazing trip you will never know where is going to take you”.

Read more about Florencia


Hannah Noa Barad from Israel

I really enjoyed my experience at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. It was an amazing conference, in every aspect.

Hannah Noa during a zeppelin flight at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Hanna Noa Barad.

Hannah Noa during a zeppelin flight at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Hanna Noa Barad

First, the fantastic lectures given by the Nobel Laureates and the discussions that followed, where we were really able to get to know them on a personal level and hear about their life experiences as well as getting good advice from them for our careers. Second, the great networking and willingness to discuss science and get to know young scientists from all over the world was really a wonderful idea, and was truly felt everyday throughout the meeting. Third, the fun dinners and sponsored activities that were held throughout the conference certainly added so much to the whole event, including the panels that were held, which indeed were eye-opening. I feel that if a student or postdoc gets the opportunity to apply and go to the meeting they should do it. I have gained so much knowledge and new friends as well as potential colleagues from this conference, and I feel like a whole new world has opened up to me. Don’t miss out on this chance to benefit from getting to know the most amazing scientists and people from around the world, as well as see the beautiful city of Lindau which has been the home of the conference since it was first established. 

Read more about Hannah


Hlamulo Makelane from South Africa

Hlamulo Makelane made closing remarks as a representative of the young scientists at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: lvd/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Hlamulo Makelane made closing remarks as a representative of the young scientists at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: lvd/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was a great opportunity that I will treasure forever in my career path. The Nobel Laureates’ talks, discussion sessions and panels were very informative, interesting, inspiring, and motivated me to continue with my research in sciences. Meeting young scientists from around the world working in different areas of chemistry was amazing. It has broadened my knowledge in the field and made me think about how we can integrate our research through collaboration and explore more ideas that we could apply to our research problems, or ways we could build something together that can be applicable to societal issues. I was not only inspired by the research of young scientists, I also found it exciting to meet people from different countries and cultural backgrounds because in this one week I learned a lot from different parts of the world and I had the pleasure to talk about life itself, not only science. I have made many new friends during the meeting and I would like to keep the network going by staying in touch with them. I did know that the meeting will host young scientists from about 70 countries and around 30 Nobel Laureates; however, being there and experiencing it, I felt like I was surrounded with people who see greatness in one another even when we didn’t see it in ourselves. I was humbled by the opportunity given to me to make closing remarks representing the young scientist at the closing of the 67th Lindau Meeting. This meeting has been truly a wonderful experience for me professionally and personally.

In conclusion, I was impressed by an equal number of women participating in the meeting, and I will strongly encourage other young scientists, especially women, to look forward to this career- and life-changing meeting and apply to participate.

Read more about Hlamulo


Jana Kobeissi from Lebanon

The 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting had everything that a scientist could ever wish for. Over a course of a few days, you get to attend lectures by and afternoon discussions with the Nobel Laureates themselves, and if you’re lucky enough, you can even share a table with one of them for dinner. The laureates not only discussed science, but also exposed their life experiences leading up to and after winning the Nobel Prize. They emphasised that even they made their own mistakes – had their own ups and downs – but they did not give up. Rather, they pursued projects even if the topics were not “hot” at that moment or even if others did not “believe” in their work. In short, they give you hope and inspiration. You’d even feel the urge to go to the lab RIGHT NOW and carry out experiments.

Jana with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie. Photo: Courtesy of Jana Kobeissi

Jana with Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie. Photo: Courtesy of Jana Kobeissi

Furthermore, ever since day one, you are surrounded by enthusiastic – and extremely friendly – young scientists who are just as passionate about science as you are. You meet others from very different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, with whom you click right away, and as you converse with them and get to know more about their research, you realise just how international science is. The diversity of the participants sharply contrasts with the singularity of the main issue at hand: science!

I urge all scientists to apply to the Lindau Meetings, regardless of age. I am an undergraduate student, myself, and I found the meeting to be tremendously valuable: Now, I am connected with other undergraduates, PhD students, Post Docs, and even an assistant professor from all over the world. I was also fortunate to get worthwhile advice from some laureates regarding my future career in science. Getting this exposure early on, I believe, is very important. Finally, all of the above took place in one of the most beautiful and peaceful areas I have ever seen. All in all, the Lindau experience is perfect!

Read more about Jana


Julietta Yedoyan from Armenia 

Julietta and Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo:  Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Julietta and Nobel Laureate Ferid Murad during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

I heard I lot of great opinions about the Lindau Meeting from different sources, although I would have never imagined that nowadays there exists such a perfectly organised meeting, which brings together so many inspired and motivated people from all over the world to share their ideas and experience. It is an incredibly amazing and unique meeting where the young generation gets a chance to meet Nobel Laureates from different disciplines, getting involved in discussions about research and science in general as well as personal experience of the success which changed the world for the benefit of mankind. Before participating in the Lindau Meeting, I was not sure about the decision to stay in the science, being aware of all the obstacles that I should overcome in the future to establish myself as a scientist, and I was looking for some opportunities in industry, which is not an easy path either but a more or less stable field. However, during the discussion with some Nobel Laureates I got so impressed and inspired by their personalities and their research that I made the decision to totally change my plans about my future and to stay in science. I think being a scientist it is a vocation, it is not an easy path, but well respected. Moreover, the facts that your research can be important and that it can one day change the world to the better motivate me to sacrifice and struggle for the benefit of mankind.

Beside all the Nobel Laureates, I should mention the nice expression of all smart and well educated young people that I had a chance to meet; hopefully, to meet them again in the future and possibly cooperate and collaborate by sharing and exchanging ideas.

Special thank you to DAAD for my scholarship and for this great opportunity as well the whole Lindau staff for their very polite, thoughtful and super nice job!

Read more about Julietta


Karen Stroobants from Belgium

Karen with young scientist Michael Lerch and General-Director of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Ahmed Üzümcü on the Discussion Panel on 'Ethics in Science'. Photo: Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Karen with young scientist Michael Lerch and Ahmed Üzümcü, General-Director of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, on the Panel Discussion on ‘Ethics in Science’. Photo: lvd/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

What I did on Friday 30th of June 2017, also my 30th Birthday? I woke up very early to walk to the harbour of Lindau, where a three-story boat was awaiting me, and 419 other young scientists. We set off to pick up 28 Nobel Laureates before continuing our trip to Mainau Island, which traditionally hosts the closing sessions of the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings. As I had been invited to be a panellist in the final discussion on ‘Ethics in Science’, I was slightly nervous. I was seated between laureate Martin Chalfie, and young scientist Michael Lerch, and I had the time of my life, answering questions in this amazing setting, and company.

And this was just the end of what became an amazing week, rising well beyond my expectations. Since that Monday, we had all been educated and inspired by the talks and discussion sessions with the laureates; we had truly connected with them, and with each other. Personal highlights were my short talk in Aaron Ciechanover’s Master class, the very kind interactions with Peter Agre and John Walker, but also the many inspiring conversations with fellow young scientists.

Such a unique opportunity, such an inspiring event, and a 30th Birthday I – without doubt – will never forget.

Read more about Karen


Melania Zauri from Italy

Melania and Nobel Laureate Hartmut Michel at the Bavarian evening of the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Melania Zauri

Melania and Nobel Laureate Hartmut Michel at the Bavarian evening of the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Melania Zauri

Lindau (#LiNo17 for the twitter fans) was an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. I had the opportunity to meet the brilliant minds that shaped most of the science that I learned from the textbooks and to do so in a super informal and friendly environment. Moreover, there were about 70 nationalities and I felt that science provided us with a unified message for the society: facts have to come from good science and politics has to come afterwards. There was only one female laureate and she behaved marvellously showing that what matters is not your gender, but the passion and the curiosity that you can put in what you do. If you have those there will be no barriers to hold you back. I admired the humble attitude of the laureates – great people that in some cases made me cry. For example, Prof. Agre with his family history and the oil pump of his town showing a message of congratulations for the award of his prize, which, as he commented, usually shows only beer advertisements. I appreciated the energy of all of them and the willingness to engage in dialogue with the young scientists. Almost everybody displayed a slide in their presentations with advices for young scientists. The Lindau team was just amazing and for everything you needed they were there with an answer. I would recommend this meeting definitely to everybody who is willing to play the game, to share his/her experience and to get a power charge for the next decades. I think whenever I will think at those moments I will judge them as worth every second and thinking that if these people, despite their old age and their busy schedule came to Lindau for us, my energy and enthusiasm as a young scientist should be enough for the next decades.

Read more about Melania


Monika Patel from India

Monika with Nobel Laureate Ben  Feringa at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

Monika with Nobel Laureate Bernard Feringa at the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Monika Patel

The 67th Lindau Nobel Meeting dedicated to chemistry was a week full of joy, knowledge, motivation, experiences, and inspiring people. Every professor shared their experience of being a Nobel Laureate and they guided the young scientist “how they can become a Nobel Laureate in future”.  It was great to receive tips from Prof. Bernard L. Feringa on being creative: think beyond someone’s imagination, and never give up. However, there is no substitution for hard work.  Prof. Richard R. Schrock was one of the coolest Nobel Laureates, who shared his positive attitude towards life and finding balance in the different phases of your life.  In addition, the meeting comprised several informal events such as the International Get-Together hosted by Mexico at the Dornier Museum, Friedrichshafen, cultural diversity at the Bavarian Evening and a boat trip along with a Science Picnic to the flower island Mainau. These events gave a platform for personal discussions with the laureates and other young scientists from different parts of the world.

But the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was not only academically oriented, it was also a great platform to network with people from all across world. Events like these are really inspiring and give you energy to achieve your goals.

It’s one of the rarest opportunities that one can get in his/her carrier. Therefore, I strongly recommend other scientists to be part of this meeting and to fulfil your dreams.

Read more about Monika


Sheela Chandren from Malaysia

Do you still remember how your first day of school went? Only this time, instead of teachers and new first-graders, the class was filled with the most brilliant people in the world and classmates that are so enthusiastic, you feel like the smallest person in the world. That was how I felt at the beginning of the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. However, as I attended more and more sessions, my opinion started to change. Don’t get me wrong, the Nobel Laureates are indeed wonderfully brilliant and the other young scientists are just pleasant to be around. But through the different sessions carried out, I realised a very prevalent common thing among all of us: the thirst for knowledge.

Sheela Chandren during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Sheela Chandren

Sheela during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Sheela Chandren

Although my level is nowhere near theirs, through their really interesting lectures, it was so fascinating to see how passionate they are in their own fields. I was thoroughly surprised that I enjoyed and understood the lectures that were quite unrelated to my research, such as cells, enzymes and diseases. Many of the laureates were really funny and I especially love how they tried different approaches to make their talk more relatable to us young scientists.

If I had to pick a favourite part, it would definitely be the afternoon sessions. During these sessions, not only were we allowed to ask questions to the Nobel Laureates of our choice, we were also able to get up close to them, hearing about their life experiences and journeys that led them to where they are now. While I am still in awe of them, we realised that they are also humans like us. These sessions managed to give me a new drive so that I am more motivated than ever to try my very best in my research.

So after these six wonderful days on the beautiful island of Lindau, did I get any smarter? Most probably not, although I really hope I did. Have I successfully predicted the next big thing in the world of science? Unfortunately, not yet. However, now I know for sure that I am one step closer to all that. Through this meeting, I found a renewed motivation for my research and I am more passionate than ever to continue exploring science. The other important thing that I came to realise is each and every one who identifies themselves as scientists is part of a very large community, through which we foster the exchange of knowledge.

Hopefully one day I will return to Lindau again – this time as a Nobel Laureate perhaps. Well, a woman can only dream!

Read more about Sheela


Thao Ngo from USA

Thao (front, left) with other young scientists and Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Thao Ngo

Thao (front, left) with other young scientists and Nobel Laureate Richard Schrock during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo: Courtesy of Thao Ngo

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was incredible. More than one week after and I still cannot believe I had the opportunity to attend it. During the meeting, I met the most amazing group of people — the laureates, their spouses, young scientists and the organisers of the meeting. I was intimidated at first by the laureates and was afraid of making a fool out of myself. But after talking to them, I realised that there was nothing to be intimidated by because the laureates were there to talk to young scientists like myself to spread ideas and to inspire the next generation of scientists. During the meeting, social issues such as climate change and the current political climate came up quite often; I was extremely privileged to have heard in person the laureates’ opinions. In addition to discussing sciences and social issues with the laureates, I enjoyed talking with their spouses about their backstory. I tend to think of Nobel Laureates as super humans so having learned about their struggles, both in their scientific work and in their lives, I was put in perspective. I especially enjoyed meeting and making new friends from all around the world. I learned so much about research activities and research culture in different countries. One thing I really loved was every time I met a new young scientist, he/she would often say “I’m from here but I’m doing research there.” That was proof that science knows no boundaries and knowledge cannot be stopped at borders. If given the chance to, every young scientist should participate in a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The meeting truly is eye-opening and inspiring, in addition to being held on the beautiful island of Lindau.

Read more about Thao