Published 2 February 2023 by Abdelaziz Gouda

An Unforgettable Eureka Moment – Personal Lindau Impressions of Young Scientist Abdelaziz Gouda

“Sustainable Biodegradable Materials and Devices Integrating Energy Conversion and Storage” was the title of the Next Gen Science presentation held by Abdelaziz Gouda.

Abdelaziz Gouda is a postdoctoral research fellow in the solar fuels group at the University of Toronto, Canada. He presented his work during Next Gen Science at the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.

Growing up in Egypt, education is the main determinant for the quality of one’s life, skills, personality and shaping the future. In 1999, when I was nine years old, I first heard about the Nobel Prize when Ahmed Zewail was awarded for his discovery of femtosecond chemistry. Always in my mind is the following quote from Professor Zewail’s speech at the Nobel Banquet: “The honour comes with great responsibilities and new challenges for the future. I do hope to be able to continue the mission, recalling the thoughtful words of the great scholar Taha Hussein which can be paraphrased as: ‘The end will begin when seekers of  knowledge become satisfied with their own achievements.’” Since then, I always dreamt of being able to meet Nobel Laureates to discuss and learn from them.

A Dream Came True

This dream was realised during the 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2022. More than 600 Young Scientists from around the world were chosen for the 2022 chemistry meeting held on the fascinating island of Lindau, Germany. I was honoured to not only be one of those chosen to attend but also one of 14 who got the chance to present their research in front of the Nobel Laureates and Young Scientists.

The 71st Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was an excellent in-person, multi-disciplinary opportunity for Young Scientists to get together, discuss, engage and explore new ideas for future scientific and social collaboration. It was an intense week of inspiration, networking and learning. Special thanks to the Council for the amazing organisation and to the distinguished Nobel Laureates for spending their precious time with us to discuss their discoveries, perspectives and our professional development.

Meeting the passionate fellow Young Scientists with curious minds from all over the world kindled a strong interest in future collaborations. Against this diverse background, I really enjoyed discussing different topics from chemistry, materials science and biology to gender equality with Young Scientists and Nobel Laureates. We all came to Lindau with one shared aim: to learn, connect and get inspired for future research, collaboration and innovation for the benefit of humankind.

My Highlights

Ben L. Feringa during a lecture in Lindau
Very inspiring: Abdelaziz learnt a lot from listening to Ben L. Feringa.

One of my best moments was meeting Nobel Laureate Ben L.  Feringa during the Bavarian dinner. Professor Feringa shared the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on molecular machines.

He is one of the best teachers ever, his passion for research and the ability to make molecules dance is unbelievable.

Professor Feringa ended his talk with a precious piece of advice: If you want to make a breakthrough in your field, be passionate and love what are you doing to make the impossible possible.

I was inspired by Nobel Laureate Benjamin List’s vision to align his research goals in addressing global energy issues. Professor List shared the 2021 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of asymmetric organocatalysis. His vision to convert CO2 (Greenhouse Gas) into useful chemical fuels using solar light is a huge inspiration for me and my aim to form a research group to work on green energy materials for sustainable electrochemical energy storage applications and sustainable catalysis.

It’s Not Impossible

Benjamin List (on the left) and Abdelaziz Gouda meeting in the foyer of the Inselhalle
Unforgettable: personal encounter with Nobel Laureate Benjamin List. Photo/Credit: in courtesy of Abdelaziz Gouda

I was lucky enough to meet Professor List and have a long discussion with him. An unforgettable Eureka moment came when I told him that we were thinking about an idea and asked him if he had tried this reaction before. “We have not tried it yet. But it is not impossible.”

Besides the scientific content of the meeting, the organisers did not forget to give us insights into the Bavarian culture through the traditional dances, food (especially the Bavarian bread!) and music. These wonderful activities left us with great memories about Bavarian culture.

Finally, after these unforgettable memories and experiences, I would like to leave my colleagues – now Lindau Alumni – with this piece of advice: Get out of your comfort zone and do not be afraid to reach out and make new connections in different areas than yours in the quest for innovative ideas.

Learn More About #LINO22

This text was originally written for our Annual Report 2022. We hope you enjoy browsing through the online version.

Abdelaziz Gouda’s Next Gen Science Presentation 

Abdelaziz Gouda

Abdelaziz Gouda, Lindau Alumnus 2022, is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Toronto, Canada. His work focusses on solar fuels. During #LINO22, he had the opportunity to present parts of his research in the Next Gen Science session.