Final Preparations: Lindau Calling! (#LiNoEcon)

In just a few days, Lindau’s Stadttheater (= city theatre) will open its doors to a week full of inspirational exchange and education. We, the organising team of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, are very much looking forward to having this incredible number of bright minds here on our small island.

67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, 25.06.2017, Lindau, Germany

The 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences will take place at Lindau’s city theatre. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

By now, you’ve probably gone through the numerous phases of preparation, perhaps even packing. So let us give you some last minute guidance and lists for repacking your gear.

 

The Programme

Perhaps you’ve already gotten around to checking this year’s meeting programme. If not, don’t worry – here’s the link to the full programme booklet.

22.08.2014 Lindau, Germany,  5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences  5. Lindauer Tagung der Wirtschaftswissenschaften Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Laureate Peter A. Diamond at #LiNoEcon 2014. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Getting Here

We do not organise any shuttle buses to Lindau; thus, you will have to organise your trip to Lindau yourself.

Most likely, you’ll be arriving in Lindau by train. All airports you might be flying into offer connections to “Lindau Hbf” (the train station to head to) via train. You can either buy a ticket at the train stations or via www.bahn.com. You have arrived in Lindau as soon as you see water to your left, to your right and in front of you. Welcome to Lake Constance!

 

Registration

In order to take advantage of everything Lindau has to offer, you need to register with us and get your conference materials. Upon registration, you will receive your name badge, which indicates to our staff which events you will attend, your personal agenda, the final programme and more.

Registration of young economists will take place in the city theater (Stadttheater) and will open on Tuesday, 22 August from 10.00 hrs until 20.00 hrs and Wednesday, 23 August from 7.30 hrs until 18.00 hrs. Please note that you will have to show a valid ID at the registration desk.

 

Everything Else You Need to Know

The opening ceremony starts on Wednesday at 9.00 hrs, and the Stadttheater will open its doors at 8.00 hrs. Seats have to be taken by 8.45 hrs. For security reasons, it is not allowed to bring any large bags. For your convenience, there will be space to store your luggage securely just outside the Stadttheater at the Turnhalle (the primary school gym opposite the back entrance of the theatre). You will need to present your name badge and a valid ID-card in order to get access.

For a Google Map with all the important places in Lindau, please click here (or check the meeting app):

 

 

What to Bring & What to Wear

There is no dress code for the regular scientific sessions. For invitational dinners, you may want to bring something more festive (suits, cocktail dresses). As the lake is great for swimming, you may want to bring swim wear. Some of the local swimming pools even offer free entrance for the participants of the Lindau Meeting. Sunscreen and mosquito repellents are a good idea as well. 

Make sure to bring comfortable shoes that are suitable for cobblestone roads and various weather conditions. A hairdryer may be useful as well as a voltage converter (220 volts) or adapter as German socket-outlets vary from those abroad.

Over the last years, one of the events has become particularly popular among all participants: the “Bavarian Evening” supported by the Free State of Bavaria. For this, it is a great idea to wear a traditional festive costume from your home country. Those of you who own a traditional Bavarian costume (Dirndl dress or Lederhosen) are more than welcome to wear that instead.

 

At the Bavarian evening, everyone is invited to wear the traditional outfit of their home country. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

At the Bavarian evening, everyone is invited to wear the traditional outfit of their home country. Photo/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Morning Workouts

For those of you participating in the morning workouts: please bring comfortable sportswear, a towel and sturdy sneakers. Water bottles will be provided upon registration.

 

Internet & Phones

The meeting venue is equipped with wireless LAN (WiFi). Special log-in credentials will not be required – just follow the instructions.

It’s always helpful to bring along your mobile phone so that we will be able to contact you easily. To use a mobile phone in a German network, it needs to support the GSM standard (used all over Europe). The German country code is +49.

 

Lindau, Germany, 22.08.2014. 5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences/5. Lindauer Tagung der Wirtschaftswissenschaften. Science Breakfast UBS , Roger Myerson (2.v.l.) Picture/Credit: Rolf Schultes/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Laureate Roger B. Myerson at the 5th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. Photo/Credit: Rolf Schultes/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

Emergencies

In case of an emergency at the main meeting venue, please contact the staff. Please note that our staff is not authorised to hand out any medication. A paramedic team is present at the meeting venue and can help with all health-related issues. If you have an emergency at a different location, please either contact any of the staff if present, or call 112, the official emergency number that will work in all of the EU countries and in Switzerland. During the meeting, you will be covered by a health insurance policy provided by the organisers.

 

The Meeting App

There will be a conference app available at the 6th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences. All the information from this post can also be found there (…and more). For an in-depth explanation on how to get started with the app, please refer to my colleague Christoph’s guide.

 

Last but Not Least

If you want to get a taste of the “Lindau spirit” prior to the meeting, you are invited to take a look at our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter (@lindaunobel) and Instagram (@lindaunobel). Throughout the week of the meeting, we will try to post as much interesting content as possible via #LiNoEcon, this year’s official hashtag. Do join the conversation – we’d be happy!

My colleagues and I will be happy to assist you at the Young Scientist Help Desk, should you have any questions. It is going to be a great week, so let’s make the most of it!

And finally, if you haven’t seen them yet, take a look at our new bags, which will soon be yours ;-)

 

Lindau Calling #LiNoEcon

Nadine, Karen and Nesrin – always there to help you out during your time in Lindau! Photo/Credit: Lisa Vincenz-Donnelly/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings 

 

Germany’s Monetary Mythology: Central Bank Independence and Crafting the Past

Financial district in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo/Credit: fotoVoyager/iStock.com

Financial district in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo/Credit: fotoVoyager/iStock.com

 

The job of a central bank is to ‘take away the punch bowl just when the party gets going,’ as William McChesney Martin, an American central banker, once quipped. In other words, the central bank should raise interest rates to rein in the economy before things get out of hand.

This is not always a popular job – and some central banks have done it better than others. Think of the Deutsche Bundesbank, for instance, which celebrated its sixtieth birthday at the start of this month. West Germany’s central bank was among the most successful in the post-war fight against inflation.

Indeed, we have long since reached the stage where the image of the Bundesbank has become a caricature. The German central banker: conservative, independent and not a smile to be seen. To be sure, if there were a punch bowl at a party, the German central banker would be the first to confiscate it.

Reputation is a priceless asset in the world of central banking. Credibility matters. How can we explain the Bundesbank’s reputation? Statistics are important, of course. The Bundesbank ensured that Germany experienced lower inflation rates than its trading partners, boosting the country’s competitiveness and prosperity. Such success breeds reputation.

But can numbers explain everything? Well, no. Another important factor can be history – or, at least a certain version of history. Germans, so the story goes, have long been scarred by the traumatic experience of inflation in 1920s: ever since, they have been dead set against inflation and for an independent central bank.

So no wonder the Bundesbank has been so successful fighting rising prices. The German central banker is motivated by the powerful example of his or her history.

But hold on a second. This picture is a little too neat – and there are some holes in the story. For example, Germany is not the only European country to have experienced a hyperinflation during the twentieth century. A bunch of others, including Poland and Hungary, have endured them. Yet it is only Germany that places price stability at the top of its list of economic priorities, ostensibly because of its traumatic history. What makes the German inflation so special?

To understand why Germany’s political culture is so fixated on inflation, we need to focus less on the hyperinflation itself and more on what happens afterwards. This is where approaches of cultural history – and my research – come in.

Put more precisely, we need to examine how the country’s monetary history became caught up in a post-war power struggle over the direction of monetary policy between the central bank, on the one hand, and the federal government, on the other.

The lessons stemming from Germany’s experience of inflation became politicised and mobilised into arguments in support of – and against – the need for central bank independence.

Wait, against? Contrary to popular belief, central bank independence was a controversial issue in 1949, the year in which the West German state was established. It was controversial because the Reichsbank, Germany’s central bank prior to the end of the Second World War, was legally independent of government instruction during both the hyperinflation and deflation. That is a historical fact – and it is one that is often forgotten.

In part this is because, today, we tend to associate independent central banks with economic stability, not instability. After all, that is what (most of) the post-war period teaches us. In 1949, however, that association was a far tougher sell. It was not a given. So the link between central bank independence and economic stability had to be carefully crafted, using select examples taken from Germany’s inter-war history, with other, more inconvenient facts shoved to the side.

Both supporters and opponents of central bank independence reverted to historical lessons amid efforts to influence the provisions in the Bundesbank Law, a crucial piece of legislation that established the post-war Bundesbank as we know it today.

Historical narratives of Germany’s past were forged amid this struggle for power – and in the end, those lobbying for central bank independence won the day.

Crucially, however, the Bundesbank Law itself reaffirmed this powerful struggle over monetary policy. In providing for a central bank that was independent of political instruction, the law made it highly likely that conflicts between the central bank and government would become ‘dramatised’ and spill into the public sphere.

These public controversies often centred on central bank independence. It was in these very episodes that the lessons of Germany’s experience of inflation became relevant yet again, geared in support of central bank independence.

Some historical experiences are more useful than others. A post-war institutional power struggle, one that centred on monetary policy, made Germany’s history of inflation more relevant for future generations of West Germans. Contemporary political disputes were treated in distinctly historical terms. An institutional struggle helped to foster this cultural preoccupation with inflation. That is what has made the German inflation so special – and so consequential – as opposed to those experienced by other countries.

Reputation is a priceless thing in the world of central banking – and it is even more powerful when a central bank has the right kind of history, or story, backing it. ‘The past is never dead’, the novelist William Faulkner once wrote: ‘It’s not even past.’ In the post-war era, Germany’s monetary history became a political football – and it remains one to this day.

Is the Paris Agreement on Climate Change ‘Bad for Business’?

Concerns are growing about the impact of climate change on macroeconomic and financial stability. Researchers, policy-makers and other stakeholders are trying to calculate the costs of climate change – and also whether there are potential opportunities from global warming.

Many see the costs in term of the economic losses from natural disasters associated with climate change. There is a considerable body of research estimating these costs of the physical risks of climate change. But the financial costs potentially go far beyond that, notably as a result of the risks from climate policy.

Growing public awareness of climate change has led many countries to emphasise the importance of ‘turning down the heat‘, aiming to keep global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. This ultimately resulted in the 2015 agreement made in Paris within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Paris agreement seeks to mitigate the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change, in particular by encouraging ‘fossil fuel divestment’. Climate policies that are being implemented to achieve that ambition include the European Union’s emissions trading system and carbon taxes – fees imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Risks from these policies arise from the fact that some financial assets will have to be re-evaluated: for example, firms in the fossil fuel sector will lose their value, while renewable energy firms will rise in value. Financial market participants that own shares in these firms need to know their exposure to climate-sensitive sectors of the economy.

It is important to note that while the physical risks of climate change are difficult to avoid, climate policy risks can be evaluated and diminished if recognised early enough. The crucial questions for policy-makers and the public are first, what are the costs of the transition to a low-carbon economy (‘decarbonisation’); and second, how can the costs of climate change be transformed into opportunities?

 

A Coal-fired power plant, solar energy and windmills. Photo/Credit: rclassenlayouts/iStock.com

What are the costs of a transition to a low-carbon economy? Photo/Credit: rclassenlayouts/iStock.com

 

Research Evidence

As the inevitable process of decarbonisation gathers speed, more and more financial institutions are becoming concerned with climate policy risks. Many banks, insurance companies and pension funds are recognising the need to ‘stress-test’ their asset portfolios for their resilience to climate policy.

It is important to highlight that shocks imposed on the financial system as a result of climate policy risks are not necessarily negative: they can also be positive and could boost the economy. Financial institutions are interested in finding the best portfolio of assets for the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Several global initiatives are seeking to estimate the costs and gains for the economy on the path to decarbonisation. One example is the Financial Stability Board of the G20, which has launched a Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure, aiming to give firms the incentives to disclose publicly their climate-relevant information and thereby help investors create a sustainable portfolio.

Another example is a Green Finance Study Group, launched under China’s G20 presidency with the support of the Bank of England and proposing to address the challenges of achieving a climate-friendly economic and financial system. Both initiatives have lead to wider awareness of the issue and are working towards a deeper understanding and the development of appropriate measures.

The question of climate-related exposure is also being addressed at the national and regional level. For example, the Carbon Bubble project, commissioned by Germany’s environmental agency, is creating tools for investors to evaluate their climate-related risks for all important asset classes and sectors. Several central banks have conducted analyses of climate stress testing, and the European Commission recently published the interim report of its high-level expert group on sustainable finance.

Most of the proposed new stress-testing methodologies focus on the direct exposure of individuals, firms, pension funds or banks to climate policy risks. But it is also important to consider ‘counterparty climate policy risks’. For example, a pension fund wanting to invest in low-carbon firms might find that the investment fund it uses has a ‘brown’ portfolio rather than a ‘green’ one. This is an illustration of so-called second-round effects.

One recent climate stress test proposes a methodology to take account of second-round effects. By analysing the listed equity holdings of firms, the analysis shows that such effects can amplify positive and negative shocks caused by climate policy and, therefore, could decrease the accuracy of climate policy risk estimations.

Despite growing interest in methodologies for assessing climate-related financial risks, as yet there are no estimates of the magnitude of the exposure of the euro area to climate policy risks. Building on the recently proposed climate stress test methodology, our research is trying to estimate the monetary value of gains and losses for the euro area on the path to decarbonisation.

Taking account of various channels of exposures between euro area governments and financial institutions, our preliminary estimates show that the most exposed to climate-sensitive sectors of the economy are governments, investment funds, insurance companies and pension funds, while banks have relatively little exposure.

 

Future Challenges for Research and Policy Action

There are many open issues associated with estimating monetary exposure to climate change. First, there is no standardised economic classification for firms that would allow easy estimation of their climate sensitivity; and second, there is no financial transparency that would make it possible to calculate the costs of climate change and, in particular, take account of second-round effects. New policies need to be introduced to resolve these issues.

Finally, not everyone supports the Paris agreement, notably the American president who said during his election campaign that ‘the climate change deal is bad for business.’ Is this really true?

Preliminary findings of our research show that it is not the case. The actual exposure to fossil fuels is small for the euro area and the exposure to climate-sensitive sectors is about 50 percent, which could be both a loss and an opportunity.

Research estimating the extent of climate change effects on business continues and there are many issues to be resolved. But it is widely realised that change is inevitable and society needs to be better prepared for it. With further research on well-defined paths to decarbonisation, safe asset allocation and climate-related financial disclosure, it will be possible to tackle climate change and ‘make our planet great again.’

Society’s Growing Need for Non-Formal Education

Our traditional system of formal education – with a teacher or professor in front of a classroom of passive listeners, backed up with a blackboard and lots of chalk – is becoming increasingly unfit for purpose. It’s generally good at tackling the basic needs of a fairly homogeneous group of people – mainly children and young adults from 6 to 18 with the possibility of ‘extension’ to college or university for those who ‘performed well’ in the first two levels of the system. But today’s world needs so much more.

In a fast-changing society with substantial technological advancements and unlimited global connectedness, lifelong learning has become a necessity, often long after people have left the formal education system. What’s more, the needs of specific groups of people don’t fit well in the current system and should be targeted in different ways.

 

Credit: Lamaip/iStock.com

Photo/Credit: Lamaip/iStock.com

 

As an example, we can think of the immense group of refugees who have arrived in Europe over the last five years with backgrounds ranging from an unfinished high-school education to advanced degrees in engineering, medicine, information technology, languages and so on.

There are also many contemporary challenges – such as migration, global warming, radicalisation and inequality – that are extremely complex and need a holistic and interdisciplinary approach. In turn, this requires very specific combinations of skills and knowledge. But the traditional education system is focused on disciplinary specialisation, rather than interdisciplinary combinations of skill sets.

 

The need for non-formal education

I believe that ‘non-formal education’ is the way to fill the growing gap that results from today’s more advanced and heterogeneous educational needs. Compared with formal education, non-formal education is less focused on the general and overall public needs of large groups in a society. It has been described as a complementary ‘educational activity carried on outside the formal system to provide selected types of learning to particular subgroups in the population, adults as well as children.’

Informal education – which encompasses all acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes from any kind of experiences – is an even broader, but also more ambiguous, form of education. Hence, compared with informal education, non-formal education happens in a more organised and structured way.

This distinction is significant, as non-formal education therefore requires a minimal level of resources to support an organisational structure. It can also be applied to focus on a particular group of people or niche activity; and it can be strategically managed in order to reach particular educational goals for such target groups.

Consequently, non-formal education is mainly provided by civil society and/or non-profit service organisations, and it can fill the gap between what is left open by formal education and what is naturally transferred through people’s daily social interactions. Given its organisational structure, it can be actively managed to provide educational solutions for concrete and tangible problems. 

Non-formal education has different functionalities. A major one is participant functionality. This means that non-formal education brings direct benefits for its participants, such as skills, experiences and personal networks.

Non-formal education also has social functionality, as it enables people to engage in society and it provides a platform for discussing and tackling local, regional and global problems. For example, in a study of the global scouts movement, I find that the social functionality of this non-formal educational movement is perceived very differently across countries.

 

Some questions for researchers and practitioners

Starting from the growing gap between the traditional educational system and desirable social outcomes, several questions for researchers and practitioners can guide us to shape the future of non-formal education:

  • First, can a full-scale non-formal education sector exist in addition to the traditional formal education system without both sectors being in too strong competition for the same resources?
  • Second, can both sectors strengthen each other, where the strengths of one sector compensate for the weaknesses of the other? For example, should the ‘efficiency’ of one sector be traded-off against the more adjusted targeting of the advanced and heterogeneous needs of the other sector? Or can accreditation, certification, evaluation of both sectors and the skills acquired in each sector be integrated. A starting point lies in a seminal set of first recommendations.
  • Third, how can non-formal education organisations – which are often operational as non-profit and/or social profit organisations – increase their legitimacy and public reputation to assure long-term resources for their mission and achievements?
  • Fourth, what steps should researchers, funding organisations and policy-makers take to quantify the needs and benefits of non-formal education? More and better data on non-formal education – similar to the PISA efforts for formal education – would be likely to result in more robust scientific insights and better policy recommendations.
  • Finally, how can participants/students improve their short- and long-term wellbeing through combining both educational systems in their lifelong learning path?

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 

Some Surprising Words of Wisdom

Lindau Alumna Karen Stroobants during the Panel Discussion 'Ethics in Science' at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Lindau Alumna Karen Stroobants during the Panel Discussion ‘Ethics in Science’ at the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

We have had the privilege to take part in an event that I am sure we will talk about for long, and remember forever.

 This week, we have been educated by the most innovative chemists, and scientists, alive today. And where we indeed expected to learn about protein structures, novel methodologies and reaction mechanisms, some other words of wisdom genuinely came as a surprise. Harald zur Hausen, for example, has pointed out to us how important it is to acknowledge all contributors of ones work, whether they are human or collaborating cattle. Dan Shechtman has given us some essential dating advice; “thermodynamically, the perfect partner does not exist”. And according to William Moerner, watching ‘The Simpsons’ should be a fairly accurate method to predict whether one will obtain a Nobel Prize.

 

Martin Chalfie at the Science Picnic with young scientists during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie and young scientists during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

 We have been inspired by Nobel Laureates, who have really engaged with us throughout this week. I personally decided to take up my studies in chemistry after learning about Marie Sklodowska-Curie, and I am sure many of us have been strengthened in our enthusiasm to pursuit the scientific profession after engaging with all the role models we met here in Lindau. In addition to the inspiration we have all gained in our specific fields, I hope we collectively have been inspired to deposit our pre-prints in online archives. Many of us recognise problems in the current academic culture, and let me remind you that we are the next generation of academics, and we have the possibility to reshape this culture. We can start today, and the concept presented by Martin Chalfie can be our first step in this endeavour.

 We have connected, not only with Nobel Laureates but also with one another. All of you have expressed creative ideas, contagious enthusiasm and profound confidence during our conversations. However, I could not but notice that those young scientists who are attracted by the academic career path showed more of this confidence than those who are considering other directions. Of course as Peter Agre mentioned, I hope many of us will reach our scientific aspirations. I want to encourage in particular the motivated women I have met, so that Ada Yonath will over time enjoy female company on the Lindau stage.

 

Lindau Alumna Karen Stroobants at lunch with Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting , Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Lindau Alumna Karen Stroobants at lunch with Nobel Laureate Aaron Ciechanover during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting , Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

To the few who have, with hesitation, expressed their passion to become a teacher, please remember that Ben Feringa might not have taken up a career in science was it not for his high school teacher. To those who have discussed potential opportunities in the policy field, let me remind you that during the opening keynote lecture of this event, Steven Chu would have liked to tell us that science should always be coupled to society, economics, and politics. We need teachers and policy makers, who advocate for the scientific method, at least as much as we need Nobel Prize winners. So whatever career path you decide on, please let it be a positive choice, and one that will enable you to have fun.

Faster Progress for Everyone

Martin Chalfie is promoting preprint archives for biological research papers that will make new results and findings accessible to a significantly bigger audience much faster.

 

Credit: exdez/iStock.com

Credit: exdez/iStock.com

 

Important questions that kept cropping up during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting include what the future of research can and will look like and how the status quo can be improved. Beside the oft-mentioned political events and their influence on science, another major issue concerns an intrinsic problem: the publication machinery and the importance of the impact factor. Shortly before the meeting, a number of Nobel Laureates publicly criticised the current journal-ranking method. During the meeting, Martin Chalfie also expressed his view that publications should be assessed more on the basis of their factual quality and less on which journal they appear in. I asked him what he had in mind as an alternative and what steps, if any, he has taken. His solution is: ASAPbio.org – Accelerating Science and Publication in Biology.

ASAPbio is an advocacy group founded by Ron Vale – an initiative instigated by scientists for scientists it aims to make new discoveries within the life science available to a broad audience much faster than previously possible. Chalfie helped launched the initiative in early 2016 together with Harold Varmus, Daniel Colón-Ramos and Jessica Polka, now the director of ASAPbio. “We wanted to develop a preprint archive for biological research. There has been something similar in physics for at least a quarter of a century.” As soon as researchers are ready to share their work and findings with the world, Chalfie continues, they can upload their articles to a preprint archive, where it can then be read and commented on by other scientists as well as by the general public. The largest preprint server for life science-related articles is bioRxiv.

ASAPbio promotes the use of open access centralised and comprehensive repositories for all life sciences. “This changes the overall dynamics of the publication process,” Chalfie says. The conventional publication pathway looks quite different: A scientific paper is submitted to a suitable journal. In an initial step, one or more editors then decide whether the paper is appropriate material for the journal in question. If the editors give the go-ahead, the paper is passed on to several experts in the field. They then form a picture of the work and can, if they deem it necessary, reject the paper as deficient or request further experiments. In such cases, the authors have several months to make the requested changes before a final decision is made, which can still be negative even after suggested changes have been made. All in all, the decision-making process can take from several months to a year, and if the paper is ultimately rejected, the authors have to submit it afresh to another journal. As a result, not only the authors lose valuable time but also the research community and the public at large, who have no access to the new findings during the decision-making process. “By contrast, preprint archives make new discoveries and research advances immediately available to everyone – whether scientists or students – and they do so free of charge,” Chalfie says, summarising the advantages.

Moreover, each paper is automatically assigned a definite submission date which the authors can refer to should a similar work be published soon afterwards.

However, Chalfie, points out, “it’s not about publishing raw data at an early stage.” Instead, a manuscript should be uploaded to an archive platform at the same time as it is submitted to a journal. It is then revised in stages in response to feedback from the journal and comments submitted via the platform.

 

 

Martin Chalfie talking to young scientists during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting,  Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Martin Chalfie talking to young scientists during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

 

“During one of the first organisational meetings, we talked about how the established journals would be likely to react to such an initiative and these platforms. Fortunately, the major journals such as Science, Nature, the journals of professional societies and many others all support the idea of preprint archives and the general repository,” Chalfie explains. The journals have no problem with authors submitting their papers to them and uploading them to a platform simultaneously. Many journals even allow “joint submissions”, meaning that they ask authors whether they want to make their papers available on an archive server at the same time.

Another sign that this new pre-release system will catch on in the long term is the acceptance of such prearchived work as a criterion for grants, the allocation of project funds and similar selection procedures. “The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the NIH, the Wellcome Trust and many universities now consider papers in the preprint archive in their evaluation of applicants,” as Chalfie relates proudly.

Although the new preprint archives as well as the general repository for biological research are still in their infancy compared to the fields of physics, and they have yet to be discovered by many scientists, they have already been acknowledged and accepted by major research institutes and renowned journals. Therefore, advocacy groups such as ASAPBio offer an excellent opportunity to take the cumbersome publication process in the life sciences to a new direction and focus once again on the actual quality of research work instead of mere impact factors.

From Copper Photocatalysts to Chemical Topology

When Jean-Pierre Sauvage started his own research lab, he focused on developing copper catalysts that could absorb light and use that energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. After characterising the shape of one of these catalysts, the focus of his research changed to that recognised by the 2016 Nobel Prize in chemistry: synthesising molecules with interlocking rings and knots.

The game-changing catalyst was a copper ion binding to the concave portions of two crescent-shaped phenanthroline molecules. Because of its binding geometry, the copper ion held the arcs in perpendicular planes. Sauvage realised that closing each crescent to form a loop would create a molecule with two interlocking rings, called a [2]catenane. “At that stage, we had to decide whether we would continue in the field of inorganic photochemistry, or be more adventurous and jump into a field we didn’t know so well,” Sauvage said. “We decided to jump.”

 

Jean-Pierre Sauvage during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Jean-Pierre Sauvage during his lecture at the 67th Lindau Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The field less familiar to him at that time is called chemical topology, and it has foundations in mathematics and biological molecules. Topology is the study of infinitely deformable objects. Mathematicians classify topological knots as identical if they have the same number of loops and crossings, even if their shapes appear drastically different. Topological knots can also be found in biological structures. Some bacteria have a loop of DNA, and two interlocking rings of nucleic acid can appear as an intermediate during cell replication. In viruses that infect bacteria, intertwined cyclic proteins can provide rigidity to their outer shells.

In 1961, H. L. Frisch and E. Wasserman, at Bell Labs, connected topology to the chemical world, publishing ideas to synthesise molecules with interlocking rings and knots. Three years later, Profs. Schill and Lüttringhaus synthesised the first molecule with two interlocking rings, in an elegant, but lengthy, process that built each ring of the [2]catenane sequentially.

About twenty years later, Sauvage recognised that his copper catalyst pre-assembled the interlocking portion of the catenane, providing a fast and efficient route to the simplest molecular chain. In 1983, he, along with Christiane Dietrich-Buchecker and J.P. Kintzinger, synthesised a [2]catenane in two steps, compared to the 15 steps needed in the previous synthesis. Sauvage says the researchers knew their work was novel, but they partly hid it in the literature, publishing in a lesser-read journal and writing the article in French. Although the paper remains one of the few French papers of his career, the concept of templating catenane synthesis has become a standard method in the field.

 

A molecule with interlocking rings syntheised by Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Christiane Dietrich-Buchecker in 1983. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A molecule with interlocking rings synthesised by Jean-Pierre Sauvage and Christiane Dietrich-Buchecker in 1983. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Over the next decade, Sauvage and his group synthesised and characterised molecules with more complex topologies, including a doubly-interlocking catenane and molecular trefoil knot with three loops and three crossings.

As the researchers continued to follow their interest in the challenge of making molecules with novel structures, they also developed an interest in molecular motion. In interlocking rings, for example, one ring can rotate around the other. With a reliable way to make a variety of interlocking molecules, researchers could then build new structures, experiment with ways to control the motion, and then convert that motion to work in molecular machines – advances achieved by Sauvage’s colleagues, co-laureates, and friends J. Fraser Stoddard and Bernard L. Feringa.

From the story of his research, Sauvage had four pieces of advice for the young scientists:

Novelty is the most important thing when choosing research, and he stressed the importance of working in a team, interacting with other scientists inside or outside your group. Moving to an unfamiliar field can be very beneficial, Sauvage said. And although that jump can be intimidating, he encouraged the young scientists to be self-confident: “Do not ask yourself whether you are good enough to tackle a new problem: Just do it!”

“It’s Important to Show the Achievements of Women in Science Through the Media” – Antonella Coccia

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Antonella Coccia

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Antonella and get inspired.

 

Antonella_1

Antonella Coccia, 22, from Argentina is an undergraduate student and researcher at University of Belgrano, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Antonella is working in biotechnology. More specifically, she is studying how to obtain Lysine (amino acid) through bacterial fermentation. Her country is a food producer and it is looking for more effective ways to feed cattle; however, Argentina doesn’t produce any amino acids (they are imported).

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

I was a very curious girl. I was always making my parents tired with the why’s, how’s and for what questions. My father noticed how passionate I got when I learned something new, especially when it was related to science, so he bought me a chemistry set for my birthday. I loved it. It was my first contact with science and I felt that that game satisfied my voracious curiosity. Later, I started high school in a science orientated school. Those years were of a lot of importance to decide my future career. I had the opportunity to visit the school chemistry laboratory for the first time, and it was love at first sight. I started to participate in every science fair, to show my experiments to other kids and to inspire them to join science orientated classes.

 

Who are your role models?

I do not think I have a single role model to follow. In the years that I have been involved in the sciences, I discovered many people and figures who have inspired me in many ways and taught me very valuable things. Like many girls interested in science, Marie Curie is a significant role model for me. I was impressed by how she could set her goals beyond what was known at that time. I admire her ability to build a family along with her scientific career, and how she succeeded in inspiring her daughters so much that one of them later received a Nobel Prize. Finding the balance between having a family and engaging in science is something that I’ve always admired. On the other hand, my parents are also a role model. They have shown me through their years of work how sacrifice and hard work pays off. They are also a major example of overcoming difficulties by believing in themselves. Other role models for me were my teachers, especially my current research director and professor Dr. Pablo Raul Castello who has shown me day by day that the possibilities are endless if one is inspired and passionate enough about his work.

I admire […] how she succeeded in inspiring her daughters so much that one of them later received a Nobel Prize.

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

When I finished high school, I decided to apply to universities in the United States. Therefore, I had to take the SATs but I felt that there was a great gap between my school and the contents of the exams. I had to be an autodidact and work hard to achieve my goal. I was accepted but I couldn’t start my studies abroad due to economic difficulties. I felt that everything had been in vain. Then I entered the University of Belgrano where I am currently studying for the third year of my chemistry major. I found that the knowledge that I had acquired and, moreover, the qualities as a student that I developed as well as the maturity I had gained, positioned me differently compared to the rest of my classmates. I took risks, I wasn’t afraid of that and I sought for what I thought my career needed. That’s how in the second year of my career I was already participating in an investigation in the university laboratory. Those experiences have shown me that sometimes things don’t go the way I want but everything that I’ve learned stays with me and makes a difference in future situations.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I think that the coolest project I’ve ever participated in is the one that I am part of right now. This project is very dear to me because it’s the first investigation that was entirely entrusted to me. I am working in Lysine production through bacterial fermentation. This is a well-known process around the world; however, we have a different approach and it already has intellectual property. I really like this project because it is applicable to my country’s industry and it could be the answer to the current dilemma of how to produce more and better food. Argentina is a food producer; however, it does not produce the required supplements to enrich the cattle food. Our project can provide those supplements making food production cheaper and creating an inexhaustible source of food enrichment.

 

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What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

The first time I inoculated the medium with the lysine producer bacteria. I was very nervous and excited at the same time. I even texted my mom to tell her as a joke that my little babies were growing. Even though the formulation of the medium was the most important part, the bacterial growth was the most decisive stage. I was about to find out if the formulation was correct.

 

What is a “day in the life” of Antonella like?

So, a day in my life starts at 5:30 am when I get up and start to prepare to go to university. I take a bus and a subway which usually takes me an hour. Then I get to University and start my classes. I take classes until 13:00 hrs when it’s time to take a lunch break. At 14:00 hrs I start working at the laboratory, I check on the bacterial growth and the Lysine production. I answer some emails and work on some projects. When I come back home I try to go for a run or to take a gym class. I find it very relaxing. I always eat dinner with my family because it’s very important for me to save some time to share with them. At the end of the day, I study for my classes and complete course assignments.

sometimes things don’t go the way I want but everything that I’ve learned stays with me and makes a difference in future situations

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

Even though I am focusing on finishing my undergraduate studies, I’m looking forward to starting my postgraduate studies, I really want to get a doctorate degree. As for my research goals, it may sound cliché but I would really love to work on a project that causes an impact on society or that gives me the chance to leave something good to the world.

 

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What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

When I am not in the laboratory or taking classes I really enjoy going to food truck fairs with my mom or baking for my family. I also like taking dance classes and running because I end up very relaxed and with a clearer mind. Something that keeps me going is doing activities with friends, having a coffee or going for a walk – it’s always great to spend some time with them.

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

I think that the most important thing for a woman interested in science is never underestimating herself. There will be people that will discourage you or even yourself will, but it’s important to keep in mind why you are doing what you do. It happens to me sometimes that it feels like I haven’t achieved anything. Other times, I am really lost with my investigation or I get frustrated with grades after extended periods of study but I surround myself with people that really support me and remind me of how much I have achieved and how much I love what I do.

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

I don’t think there is a certain answer to this question but if you ask me what I hope will be the next breakthrough in science I would say that I wish a cure will be found for illnesses that cause many deaths around the world such as cancer, leukaemia or AIDS, to name just a few. I think that a lot of research is being done in those areas and it is probable that the next great breakthrough will go in that direction.

 

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

From my point of view, there should be more encouragement for little girls. It’s important to show the achievements of women in science through the media because it avoids the myth that there are not so many women involved in science careers. The young women should see that we are more and more female scientists every day, it’s the best way to inspire them. Another thing that I haven’t seen or heard (at least in my country), and I think could make an enormous difference, is offering science lab as an extracurricular activity. I particularly discovered my love for science when I experienced what it was like being in a laboratory and the endless opportunities that it represented.

Julie Fenton Loves a Challenge, Regardless of Scale

Interview with #LiNo17 young scientist Julie L. Fenton

This interview is part of a series of interviews of the “Women in Research” blog that features young female scientists participating in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, to increase the visibility of women in research (more information for and about women in science by “Women in Research” on Facebook and Twitter). Enjoy the interview with Julie and get inspired.

 

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Julie L. Fenton, 25, from the United States of America is a Graduate Student & PhD Candidate in Chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University, US. She is working in inorganic/materials chemistry. Nanomaterials have garnered intense interest in the scientific community, due in part to their unique shape-, size-, and composition-dependent properties, and emerging technological applications that leverage these properties require nanomaterials with very specific architectures and well-defined characteristics. Colloidal synthetic methods are among the most effective for delivering high-quality inorganic nanomaterials with desirable properties in high yield. However, the complexities of solution-based chemistry limit the ability to predict and rationally target desired products, rendering some materials and morphologies of interest inaccessible. Her work has focused on developing new synthetic and post-synthetic modification strategies in order to produce inorganic nanomaterials with precise control over product morphology, elemental composition, and crystal structure in a variety of material systems. These advances allow them to access metastable materials, morphologic features, and/or complex heterostructures with desired physical and chemical properties, many of which are not amenable to previous synthetic methods.

 

What inspired you to pursue a career in science/chemistry?

I have always had an interest in problem solving and puzzles – I love a challenge, regardless of scale. When I came up against my first chemistry class in high school, thinking about the world on a molecular level intrigued me, and I was hooked. To me, the chemical discipline represented solving some of the most complex and intriguing problems in the world, except that the answer was previously unknown. This was exciting to me as a young person, and the passion only deepened through higher-level study of chemistry through college, and now well into graduate school.

 

Who are your role models?

I have been fortunate enough to benefit from a number of fantastic mentors and role models, scientific and otherwise, throughout my life. My first (and best) role models have been my parents. Through a strong work ethic coupled with the highest value placed on integrity and respect for others, they have demonstrated to me what success in life looks like (which is not specifically linked to career success). Though my parents, who are not scientists, don’t always understand exactly what it is that I’m doing on a day-to-day basis, they are supportive at every step, encouraging me to be the best version of myself in scientific pursuits, but reminding me that the world is larger than just science, and that it’s important to stay grounded in my personal values.

Academically, I am grateful to have benefitted from and been inspired by too many people to name in this discussion, so I will name just two: my current graduate research advisor, Dr. Raymond Schaak, and my first research advisor as an undergraduate, Dr. Richard Schaeffer. These two have been phenomenally encouraging to me, helping me to develop and to think creatively as a scientist, while giving me the space to work independently on projects that I have cared about. Beyond that, they have modelled how one can balance the demands of a career in chemistry with other priorities in life. Conversations with these two have helped me to think broadly about the world and my place in it, going far beyond the expectations I could have asked for from an academic advisor.

 

How did you get to where you are in your career path?

I grew up in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, USA and did my undergraduate work in chemistry at Messiah College, a small school (~2800 undergraduates only) in Grantham, Pennsylvania, USA. During my second semester as an undergraduate, I began to do research for the first time… I was enthralled by the challenge of research on the cutting edge of science. Research gave me an opportunity to think creatively about the world and the ways in which it works, and my advisor (Richard Schaeffer) gave me ample space to explore and problem-solve independently.

I anticipate working toward developing mentoring programmes to help foster students’ interest in STEM fields at an early age

Like many aspiring U.S. scientists, I participated in a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (NSF REU), between my third and fourth years of college. As a student coming from a small undergraduate institution, this was my first opportunity to do research full-time, working alongside graduate students and primarily research-active faculty members. As such, this experience was amongst the most formative of my young life as a chemist, igniting a passion for academic research and scientific problem solving on the highest level that will never be quenched. Unlike most undergraduate researchers, however, my REU was conducted at the Université de Strasbourg in Strasbourg, France, affording me the unique opportunity to live and to conduct research outside of the United States, where I have lived, worked, and learned for my entire life. Even though significant language and cultural barriers existed between the French research group and myself, we forged relationships and collaborations through the common language of chemistry. This is where I first understood and appreciated the international impact that work in science can have: increasingly, we are participating in an endeavour that transcends our national and cultural boundaries, aided by the ease of communication and collaboration. It was (and still is) incredibly exciting to me to contribute, in some small way, to something much greater than myself.

These experiences propelled me into graduate school, beginning in the summer of 2014, where I have been ever since, and will continue to motivate me as I move into the next stages of my career. I’m currently working towards my Ph.D. in materials/inorganic chemistry at the Pennsylvania State University in University Park, Pennsylvania, USA under the direction of Ray Schaak.

 

What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?

I’m probably totally biased, but the coolest work that I have worked on is my current dissertation work. Although it’s really important to be able to control the way that atoms arrange themselves in solid-state materials (because the atomic arrangement, or crystal structure, dictates the properties), the typical high-temperature synthetic methods for making solid-state materials are often limited to obtaining only the most stable arrangements of atoms in a solid. By using a lower-temperature, solution-based cation exchange method, we can transform a performed material template into a material with targeted composition. Interestingly, these transformations can be accomplished with the retention of some qualities of the template material, including features of the original crystal structure, circumventing some of the primary difficulties encountered in traditional solid-state chemistry. Using this approach, we have been able to target and isolate some unusual crystal structures in a predictable fashion, which begins to point towards the ability to generalise these approaches for polymorphic structure targeting in solid-state chemistry.

I think the most exciting thing about chemistry (and science in general) is that the great breakthroughs can be serendipitous and unexpected

What’s a time you felt immense pride in yourself/your work?

In different ways, I have found pride in sharing my work with others. Outside of my lab or the community of solid-state chemists, there is something really exciting about communicating the major points of my science to non-technical audiences in a way that appeals to them (without oversimplifying the science behind it), in formal presentations and informal conversations. Additionally, I have found great satisfaction and pride in seeing some of my efforts come to fruition in published form. Getting to a paper is a grind – it represents many hours in lab and many, many failed experiments, significant data analysis and interpretation, as well as the actual time spent writing the manuscript and putting together figures and data in a way that communicates the significance more broadly. It is exhilarating to contribute to the scientific community, even in very small ways.

 

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What is a “day in the life” of Julie like?

I’m a synthetic chemist, so the majority of my work-life time is spent in the hood or nearby in the lab, weighing powders, pipetting solvents, heating/degassing a reaction, injecting precursors or decomposition agents, or cleaning and working up reactions. I spend “down” time reading papers, chatting science with my lab mates or advisor, or getting other work done (at the beginning of my graduate career, this was class assignments or grading for my teaching assignments… lately, it’s writing!). If I’m not in the synthesis lab, you could probably find me in the Penn State Materials Characterization Lab using one of the transmission electron microscopes (TEM) to take a look at the morphology of my nanoparticle samples, to analyse their crystal structures (using selected-area electron diffraction or high-resolution TEM), or to assess their elemental composition using STEM-EDS (energy dispersive spectroscopy) mapping.

 

What are you seeking to accomplish in your career?

To merge my passion for chemistry and my desire to engage others in STEM, I plan to pursue an academic research career after completing my graduate work. As a young person, I had few female academic role models; as a professional, I anticipate working toward developing mentoring programmes to help foster students’ interest in STEM fields at an early age. I look forward to leveraging my career to help bridge the gap between technical and non-technical audiences and to increase scientific literacy at all levels of academia, politics and normal life. Thus far, I have observed and begun to appreciate the unique set of opportunities available to academic scientists: engagement with top-calibre colleagues, students and mentors, involvement with a built-in community of equally passionate researchers, opportunity to converse and collaborate across disciplines and institutions, and utilisation of cutting-edge instrumentation and laboratories. Leading scientists in top academic institutions enjoy the ideal setting for making discoveries, establishing meaningful collaborations and mentoring future generations of scientists. For an ambitious and creative scientist, academic research positions provide the latitude and flexibility to innovate, the environment to pursue individual research interests (sometimes several different ones), and the opportunity to truly impact the scientific world and the world at large.

 

What do you like to do when you’re not doing research?

I enjoy traveling to new places (or familiar ones), outdoor activities, reading, board games, and spending time with family and friends. I also make some attempts to cook, though I have found that synthetic skills in chemistry do not directly translate to cooking skills (although it feels like they should).

 

What advice do you have for other women interested in science/chemistry?

Although we live in a world of instant gratification and quick answers, progress in science is often quite slow. It requires a significant investment of time, energy and thought, and even with this discipline, projects stalling or hypotheses failing is inevitable in these disciplines. This can be discouraging to anyone, but particularly to young scientists. Eventually, progress is made: an interesting discovery, fresh eyes to interpret formerly frustrating results, or new ideas and hypotheses that can be tested and proven true, but this takes time. My advice is to keep pushing towards the goal of understanding, and to stay positive — try not to let temporary frustrations get in the way of that. I would encourage young women in particular to not be intimidated by male-dominated academic science. If you want it and are willing to work hard, you are capable of achieving every success in science.

 

In your opinion, what will be the next great breakthrough in science/chemistry?

I think the most exciting thing about chemistry (and science in general) is that the great breakthroughs can be serendipitous and unexpected – although we would like to know exactly where they will come from, we don’t and we shouldn’t expect to. As a materials chemist, however, I think some of the scientific discoveries with the potential for the greatest impact on society will come from the development of new materials. I expect that the next decade and beyond will give us numerous breakthroughs in materials for a wide variety of applications, particularly those important for solar energy harvesting, fuel cells, batteries, other electronics and beyond (perhaps for applications we haven’t even thought of yet).

We should continue to reach out to and encourage aspiring scientists as children and teens, and at the undergraduate level

What should be done to increase the number of female scientists and female professors?

This is a difficult question, and one that I think (rightly) is starting to be addressed at every level of academic training and careers. I think that we, as a community, are taking steps in the right direction towards an academy that looks more representative of broader society (including more women and other under-represented groups). While progress is good, this process will take time! 30, 40 and 50 years ago, the pool of trainees looked much different than it does today, which is still reflected in the way the academy (or even in high levels of scientific industry) looks today. I think it’s important not to do this artificially at the highest levels of science, but to build up to that slowly, over a period of time. We should continue to reach out to and encourage aspiring scientists as children and teens, and at the undergraduate level, and help to change the perception of what a scientist looks like and does. At the graduate level, mentorship is extremely important, as learning from the mistakes and triumphs of others who have gone before you is valuable for making informed decisions about your career (and basically everything else).