Published 19 September 2023 by Ulrike Böhm

#LINO23: Immense Inspiration and a Change of Perspective

Martin Chalfie and Birgül taken after their chat in Lindau. Photo/Credit: in courtesy of Birgül Akolpoglu

Before the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, I interviewed several talented female participants about their career paths, passion for science, and struggles and successes for the Lindau blog and my “Women in Research” blog – a blog to increase the visibility of women in research. Now, after the meeting, several of these young women in science shared their #LINO23 impressions with me.

Hopefully, these impressions will convince you to apply for next year’s 73rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (dedicated to Physics) from 30 June – 5 July 2024.

You can find more information about the application process here.

Birgül Akolpoglu from Turkey:
“Delving Into the Depths of Science and Life”

I had an incredible journey at the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting — an event that was both inspirational and motivational. It all kicked off with a bang when I got a free entrance to the Andy Warhol exhibition as a meeting participant, setting the stage for an inspiring experience even before the official meetings began!

Throughout the entire week, I had numerous encounters that left me with a profound sense of change. What truly stood out were the opportunities to connect with new people during every lunch, dinner, or coffee break. It was remarkable how, within a mere two minutes of conversation, we found ourselves delving into the depths of science and life itself, creating meaningful connections.

While every Nobel Laureate I met made an impression on me, there was a particular highlight — dining with Morten Meldal and his wife, Phaedria Marie St. Hilaire. Our conversations ranged from captivating research to the intricacies of life, family, and relationships. To receive firsthand life lessons from such successful and brilliant individuals was an unparalleled experience that I will forever treasure.

Frances H. Arnold‘s self-confidence and boundless enthusiasm left me amazed, while Martin Chalfie generously took a 15-minute break to discuss career aspects with me and encourage me to pursue my passion. Their wisdom and guidance were truly invaluable.

Each evening, as I returned to my hotel room, I tried to journal my day away, ensuring that not a single precious memory slipped through the cracks. The week then came to an end and left me with immense inspiration and a change of perspective. I cannot recommend it to young researchers from around the globe to apply for this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Liyana Binti Azmi from Malaysia:
“Mind-Opening Experience”

Liyana with Joachim Frank and other Young Scientists in the foyer of the Inselhalle
Joachim Frank and Young Scientists, including Liyana (front) during #LINO23. Photo/Credit: in courtesy of Liyana Binti Azmi

Before attending the Lindau Meeting, I was nervous and a little intimidated about meeting Nobel Laureates and other Young Scientists worldwide. But when I arrived in Lindau, the atmosphere was welcoming and open. Right before the Opening Session, I saw Joachim Frank, one of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry winners for cryo-EM, and worked up the courage to say hello. He was very humble and invited me to join him for the Open Exchange to talk more about cryo-EM. This first meeting inspired me and prompted me to think of all the questions I wanted to ask the other Nobel Laureates and scientists.

It was a mind-opening experience to get opinions, insights, and sharing from not only Nobel Laureates but also other scientists, policymakers, and also the media. Throughout the meeting, everyone mingled and discussed big science questions, current issues, and their lives in science. One frequently discussed topic with the Nobel Laureates was how to keep the passion for science alive. I was surprised by some of the answers, including the importance of being playful in research, asking big questions, considering multiple perspectives, reaching out to others to give feedback, and collaborating as a team. At the end of the day, it was gratifying to find that we were all united by our passion for science.

Lindau was the place to be to make connections and ask any questions to the experts of the field. Coming from the global south, this experience has immensely benefitted me by putting me at the very hub of science.

Alicia L. Bruzos from Spain:
“I Have Participated in the Best Meeting of my Life”

Alicia L. Bruzos and Frances Arnold
Nobel Laureate Frances H. Arnold with Alicia L. Bruzos during #LINO23. Photo/Credit: Camilla Elbæk

“No need to be perfect, just be good enough,” was the advice that Frances H. Arnold gave us at #LINO23 and what led many Young Scientists to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. All scientists should apply to attend these unforgettable meetings. When I first heard about #LINO, I didn’t think I was going to get a place. However, I tried, and now I can say that I have participated in the best meeting of my life.

Learning about diverse scientific and social topics with Nobel Laureates as speakers is a luxury. Even if I don’t agree with all their opinions, it’s nice to hear about their passion for science and the steps they’ve taken in their careers. Many of us don’t get many opportunities to meet Nobel Laureates often, much less several under the same roof.

Nonetheless, the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting was much more than just that. Meeting young principal investigators and getting their tips on how to establish a laboratory was inspiring. All the conversations held in the corridors, coffee breaks, or on the way back to the hotel will significantly expand the horizons of my future research. Having lunch with Laureate Robert Huber and Laureate Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard allowed me to meet the persons behind the discovery, learn a bit about their lives, and even debate politics. And, of course, a week in Bavaria is enough time to network for future collaborations with extraordinary scientists. #LINO23 was a life-changing meeting for me.

Mari Carmen Romero-Mulero from Spain:
“A Rollercoaster of Emotions”

Nobel Laureate Ada E. Yonath with Maria del Carmen Romero Mulero and other Young Scientists sitting at a table for lunch during the meeting.
Nobel Laureate Ada E. Yonath with Maria during #LINO23. Meeting. Photo/Credit: in courtesy of Maria del Carmen Romero Mulero

The 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting has been an unforgettable experience for me. I had the luck of finally putting a face to the name of great scientists I read so much about in books, who shaped today’s science and society but also inspired my professional career.

It has taught me that most Laureates saw themselves as a failure at the beginning of their career, that they faced multiple difficulties before and after their discoveries too, and, most importantly, that nonetheless, they are still passionate, humble, and approachable scientists who wish to make the world a better place. Not only did I get to know the Laureates, but also more than 600 interesting Young Scientists with extremely different social and scientific backgrounds. Young minds who are so open to share their scientific and personal experiences made the meeting a rollercoaster of emotions. 

The Lindau spirit indeed exists, and it is a mixture of admiration, diversity, optimism, and hope.

I really encourage every scientist, especially young women, to attend the meetings. You will come back believing in your capacity to use science to search for a better future for everyone.

Trishla Sinha from the Netherlands:
“I am Thrilled to Have Made Numerous New Friends”

Trishla with a group of four other Young Scientists on Mainau Island
Trishla with her new friends at Mainau Island. Photo/Credit: in courtesy of Trishla Sinha

The 72nd Lindau Annual Meeting of Medicine and Physiology was an unforgettable event that I am unlikely to forget soon. During the opening ceremony, I was immediately captivated by Frances Arnold‘s brilliant talk as she stood confidently on the podium, seemingly born for that moment. It gave me goosebumps, and I felt incredibly fortunate to be part of the audience. Throughout the following days, the event offered not only scientific discussions but also personal talks that left a lasting impression. Ada Yonath’s humorous and inspiring account of her quest to discover bacteria with numerous ribosomes in the Dead Sea was particularly memorable. Moreover, William Kaelin Jr.‘s story about his rejection from Harvard Medical School was a good lesson that rejection is a very natural part of a scientist’s journey. A delightful highlight was the Bavarian night, where I had the pleasure of engaging in discussions with Morten Meldal and his wife, Phaedria Marie St. Hilaire. They were so approachable, and I felt comfortable discussing various aspects of life with them. As an added surprise, they turned out to be wonderful dancers! Witnessing Nobel Laureates genuinely connecting with Young Scientists like us was heartwarming.

Beyond the scientific exchanges, the meeting fostered meaningful personal connections. I am thrilled to have made numerous new friends among the selected Young Scientists attending the event. Our discussions extended beyond science, allowing us to explore life’s intricacies, ambitions, and dreams, fostering a supportive and inspiring environment.

I wholeheartedly encourage Young Scientists from all around the world to seize the opportunity to participate in future meetings, as it has been a defining moment in my professional journey, enriching both my knowledge and my network of friends and collaborators.

Further Information

Ulrike Böhm

Ulrike Boehm is a physicist and science enthusiast. She works as an optical scientist at ZEISS in Oberkochen, Germany. Previously, she did her Ph.D. studies at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen in the Department of NanoBiophotonics of Nobel Laureate Stefan Hell, followed by research stays in the US at the National Institutes of Health and HHMI’s Janelia Research Campus, developing tools for biomedical research. She is generally passionate about designing and building (optical) instruments to image, probe, and manipulate (biological) structures. Furthermore, she is passionate about science communication and open science and is a huge advocate for women in science.