Networking at Conferences, or How to Win-Win at Lindau


There’s nothing like a good conference. I am a certified conference addict and I attend as many as I can each year. I love hearing the exciting presentations, meeting new people, gaining insight about new trends and innovations, and discovering novel ways to look at problems. From attending conferences, I have been able to move my career in new directions as I have met interesting people who have given me amazing advice and ideas.

I would have to say that my success – that is, the fact that I am in a career and job that brings me both joy and intellectual challenge – is a direct result of networking at conferences.  

And it should come as no surprise that one of my favourite conferences is my beloved Lindau (#NerdHeaven). It is hard to believe but the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (#LINO18) is about six weeks away. Did you know that this conference, which this year will be focused on physiology and medicine, will feature a staggering 41 laureates and 600 young scientists from across the globe? That is a lot of potential networking.

If you are planning to attend, you may be wondering how you can effectively leverage your time at Lindau to meet and greet as many people as you possibly can. But like many early-career professionals, you might also be new to networking and concerned that you might be overwhelmed by both the quantity and the quality of all the brilliant brains with whom you may come in contact.

Fear not, Fellow Nerd! I am here to help and ease your mind as you jump into this networking paradise. 

The first thing you should know about networking is that it is not a dishonourable activity, akin to selling a used car that is a piece of junk. In fact, networking is the exact opposite of this and is the most honourable action you can take in your career. The reason this is so is because networking is not about what can I take or get from you – rather, it is about what can I give to you, and what can I contribute to your team, organisation and project.


Young scientists during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Here’s a very simple and clear definition: Networking is a spectrum of activities that starts with the first point of contact I have with someone and aims for a mutually-beneficial alliance, where we are both providing value in various forms and functions over time. The win-win aspect of networking can last a lifetime, and is especially important, because when you look to offer something to someone in a networking partnership, you will find that hidden opportunities will be offered to you. Many of these opportunities are not necessarily measurable or even tangible (it could be something as simple as having a conversation with an established star in your field), but they can lead to critical career opportunities such as fellowships, jobs and awards. The key to networking is to endeavour to help the other party in some way over time. When you do this, they see you as honourable and are more likely to offer you tangible experiences which have the potential to be game-changers in your life and profession.

On 24 May 2018, I will be presenting my second webinar in collaboration with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings on “Optimising Your Time at Conferences: Networking Strategies to Advance Your Profession, Career and Field (Especially at Lindau!)”. You can register for the webinar here. Although Lindau will be the focus of this webinar, I will be discussing networking tactics that are applicable to any conference you will ever attend for the rest of your life. Talk about high ROI (Return on Investment)!


  1. Know that everyone is there for the same reason. It helps to understand that everyone who attends Lindau (or any other conference) is there to network with everyone else. And at Lindau in particular, this goes for the laureates as well as the young scientists. I have interviewed more than a handful of Nobel Laureates who participate in Lindau year after year and have inquired why they attend and keep coming back. And over and over, their answer is the same – they want to meet and interact with other nerds, especially those who are just launching their careers. The Nobels know that networking is noble, so take a hint from them. And knowing that we all attend Lindau to network can help to ease your mind and relax. We are all in it together, and we all want to Network!


  1. Prepare. If you simply show up at a conference and participate in whatever events catch your fancy, you’re likely to miss the best networking opportunities. Before attending the conference, familiarise yourself with its programme. Start reading the programme now (or about a month in advance) and get to know the speakers and their backgrounds and the special events. This will help you make the most of the experience and arm you with intelligent questions to ask not only the laureates but the other young scientists as well.


  1. Plan ahead and make connections now. In general, it is fine to reach out to other attendees and even speakers who will be presenting at conferences. If you know you’d like to meet with fellow attendees, request appointments with them at least two to three weeks before the conference. They are busy, too, so it’s wise to get on their calendars beforehand. And even if the person you want to meet is not on the programme, it’s OK to reach out to ask if s/he will be attending, and, if so, whether her schedule would allow a short meeting. Ask for only 15 minutes, because most people attending conferences generally can’t afford to meet for a full hour for lunch, but they almost always can squeeze in a brief coffee appointment.


  1. Arrive early to talks and talk to those around you. Before coffee breaks are over, migrate back into the auditorium and sit near someone you don’t know. This is a great opportunity to network, especially for introverts, because there is a reason to speak with the other person: You are both here to attend the session and you can ask them if they have ever heard this presenter before. Furthermore, this networking has an expiration date and time – when the speaker begins their presentation, you have to stop talking immediately. This is a fantastic exit strategy and one that helps networking neophytes ease into networking because you can be completely certain that you won’t be stuck making conversation indefinitely.


  1. Tweet and use the conference app. Lindau has an especially robust and useful app that allows you to plan your schedule and get background information about the laureates and other participants (you will be notified once this year’s app is available for download). Most major conferences now use apps, and some even allow you to contact other participants through the app itself. Download the app before you leave home so you can make sure you know how to navigate it. And then once you are at Lindau, tweet away! The hashtag is #LINO18. Twitter is especially useful for conference networking because you can tweet and follow tweets with the conference hashtag. You’ll get incredibly useful insight about leaders, hot topics and popular sessions. Often, this information isn’t shared anywhere else. You’ll also discover who the trendsetters and other established leaders are in the community and get a sense for potential collaborators. You can retweet these individuals’ tweets to help establish and amplify your brand and demonstrate your dedication to the community. And by doing all of this, you’ll have a reason to contact your newfound colleagues after the conference.


  1. Look for “Action Nodes”. I define an action node as anything at a meeting that people can talk about, such as the queue for the food, drinks, registration and so forth. All of these nodes give you something to immediately discuss. For those who are unsure of what to say when you first meet someone, this can provide the spark.


Do you want more tips and ideas to network successfully at conferences, particularly at Lindau? Then join me on 24 May 2018 for a special webinar!

I look forward to networking with you at Lindau and beyond!

Submissions for #LINO18 Poster Sessions and Master Classes

Poster Flash during the 67th Lindau Meeting. Photo/Credit: Julia Nimke/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

The submission period for both the poster sessions and the Master Classes is now closed. The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings has received a record 380 poster applications this year. Over 180 young scientists have applied for the Master Classes. Over previous years, both programmes have been established as key components in sharing and supporting the young scientists’ research.

30 young scientists will be selected to present their work to Nobel Laureates and other participants at the poster flashes and poster sessions during the 68th Lindau Meeting. In each Master Class, 3-5 young scientists will have the unique chance to profoundly discuss their research with Nobel Laureates. The selected young scientists will be informed shortly.

Young Scientists: Selection Process for #LiNo18 Completed

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

The selection process has been completed: A total of 600 outstanding students, doctoral candidates and post-docs with a gender ratio of 50:50 will participate in the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (Physiology/Medicine). The participants originate from a 84 nations.


>> View Press Release

Die Welt zu Hause in Lindau

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


Wiedersehen nach sechs Jahren – Elom Aglago und seine Lindauer Gastfamilie

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


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

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


Warum sind Sie eine Gastfamilie geworden?

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

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

Wie war es, als Elom 2011 zu Ihnen kam?

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


Wie sind Sie all die Jahre in Kontakt geblieben?

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


Wie war es, einander wiederzusehen?

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


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

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


Ist er, wie Sie ihn in Erinnerung hatten?

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

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


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

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


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

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

Der erste Zugang zur Welt – Gastfamilie Ober

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


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

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


Warum sind Sie Gastfamilie geworden?

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

Unser Sohn war ganz begeistert von unserem ‘fremden’ Besuch

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

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

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


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

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

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


Eine Familie fürs Leben in Lindau – Gastfamilie Heller

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


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

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


Warum haben Sie sich entschieden, Nachwuchswissenschaftler bei sich aufzunehmen?

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

The World at Home in Lindau

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


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

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


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

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


How did you decide to become a host family?

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

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

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

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


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

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


How was it to see each other again?

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


Is he the same as you remember him?

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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



 The First Access to the World – Host Family Ober

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


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

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


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

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

Our son also became enthusiastic about the visitors

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

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

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


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

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

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



Lindau Family for Life – Host Family Heller

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


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

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


Why did you decide to host young scientists?

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

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

What is it like to be a host family?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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 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!



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



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 


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

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

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


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

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings


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

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

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

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

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


Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings


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

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

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


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

Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

A Long Road to Becoming a Chemist

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

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


Photo: Courtesy of Ana Torres

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


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

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


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

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


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


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

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


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

Lessons Learned at the Lindau Meeting

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Focus on Africa: Advancing Science to Advance Humankind

One of the things I love about Lindau is that it is truly diverse and inclusive. This is the case from a disciplinary point of view, in that although this is a chemistry meeting, non-chemists are welcome – physicists, material scientists, engineers, and even maths-maniacs are encouraged to apply and attend. And Lindau is also diverse from a national standpoint – there are nerds from all over the world here. 80 countries are represented, as are numerous cultures, languages, religions and experiences.

On Monday morning, I had the privilege of attending the breakfast of the African delegation, a group of approximately 40 students and postdocs from many countries across all of Africa, including Senegal, Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Sudan, and Kenya. As we dined on fresh orange juice and fried eggs, I got chatting with a few young scientists who hail from Kenya, including Titus Masese, who is a Research Scientist at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) in Japan.

Based in Osaka, Masese, 33, has lived in Japan since he was 18 years old, when he was recruited to attend Kyoto University as a Japanese Government Scholar, a programme that brings talented Kenyan students to Japan. At Kyoto U, he received his Bachelors in materials science and engineering and his Masters and PhD in electrochemistry. He is fluent is Japanese, Swahili, Kisii (a traditional language from the region of Kenya in which he grew up) and English.


Young scientist Titus Masese and science writer Alaina Levine, Photo/Credit: Alaina G. Levine

Young scientist Titus Masese and science writer Alaina Levine, Photo/Credit: Alaina G. Levine


Masese, whose presence at Lindau is supported by both AIST and a Horst-Köhler-Fellowship (supported by the Robert Bosch Stiftung), and whose research focus is in energy storage (rechargeable batteries), spent some time speaking with me about his enthusiasm for attending Lindau. We also discussed the many bi-directional, multinational opportunities that can be leveraged for African scientific efforts in support of African innovators across the continent and across the world.

This is an especially important time for channels of communication to be expanded as it relates to financial support of science, no matter where in the world we pursue our work. As Masese notes, it is crucial for people from African nations to attend Lindau, because “in terms of science and technology, there is a lot of research in Africa, but it is not as well know, and it is not being [leveraged],” he says. “The Lindau Meeting is the right platform to showcase the research and to find collaborators so that we can further advance the work. Scientists in some countries in Africa don’t get enough funding from their governments, so they come to Lindau, and perhaps can get more funding as well as opportunities for partnerships.”

Africa is the cradle of mankind, and African researchers and research institutions are known world leaders in many areas of STEM, he shares, including anthropology, mineralogy, agriculture, horticulture and energy storage. And yet, “even with the abundance of natural resources and brilliant minds, there’s just not enough research funding,” he says.

In Masese’s native Kenya, chemistry research and application has led to major insights and innovation in the field and beyond, he says. For example, Kenyan chemists apply their chemistry knowhow to solve problems related to designing drugs to combat tropical diseases such as cholera and malaria, and in the field of anthropology, chemists collaborate with scientists around the world on projects involving carbon dating of artefacts. Geochemists here use their talents to understand, find and characterise minerals. There are also cutting-edge investigations being conducted on designing compounds that can absorb and remove carcinogenic pollutants, such as lead and arsenic, from water and other resources, and on tackling radioactive waste disposal.

Another area he is closely following is African research in the energy sector. “Energy storage and finding energy solutions is a global crisis,” he says. “I think African governments recognise this. They also recognise there is more work to be done in this area. So I encourage government representatives to speak with scientists and engineers in their nations, and leverage that talent and knowhow to make a greater impact in finding common-sense energy solutions.”

Although Masese is not working with Kenyan researchers at this time, he would certainly like to do so in the future if the funding is available and timing is right. He regularly interfaces with the Kenyan Embassy in Japan, and recently had lunch with the Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Solomon K. Maina, who “is appreciative of the work that Kenyans in Japan do,” he says.


African Outreach Breakfast during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

African Outreach Breakfast during the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, Picture/Credit: Christian Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings



Masese is optimistic that opportunity for strengthening national, international, and intercontinental partnerships for African scientists worldwide will emerge from strategic networking. “The Kenyans and Africans I’ve met say the same thing, whether they are from Senegal or Nigeria or live in other countries: we should form networks to unite together to do something for the African continent in terms of research.” Tools such as Facebook groups dedicated to fostering alliances between African scholars are helpful in this regard, serving as just one mechanism to bind together innovators who are scattered across the world but are members of the African diaspora. “I have met people in different fields and they are not being funded by African governments,” he adds. “We can form collaborations as we try to find ways to convince our governments to support important research.”

The future is bright for Africa’s scientific enterprises, and for Masese himself, who next year will be evaluated for a permanent position at AIST. One of the goals of some of Kenyan expats in Japan is to create a new research institution in Kenya. “We want to build one single institute that will do multidisciplinary research, and do cutting edge work that will be of benefit to the entire African community,” he says.

And his presence at Lindau is playing a role in inspiring him to think big. “We could build an African Young Scientist Summit, like the Lindau Meeting and similar conferences in Asia,” he says with a smile. “There is a lot of interesting research being done in Africa, despite the fact that there are not as many resources being devoted to these scholars. But there is a way to open it to the world, with meetings like Lindau. This meeting can make a difference and serve as an enzyme to advance scientific research across Africa.”