MY LINDAU EXPERIENCE
By Dr Fatin Saiha Omar
At a Glance
Every year since 1951, Lindau hosts Nobel Laureate Meeting held in Lindau, Germany. The main objective of the Meeting is to connect young scientists with Nobel Laureates so that the young scientists can learn from each other and from the Nobel Laureates. This year, the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is dedicated to Physics where 580 young scientists (undergraduates, postgraduates, post-doc researchers and lecturers) from 89 countries came to join 39 Nobel Laureates.
There were a number of different formats of the formal events such as Lectures, Agora Talks, Panel Discussions, Open Exchanges, Master Classes, Laureate Lunches, Science Breakfasts and Science Walks. Most of the events were open for everyone, but some events such as Master classes and Science Walks required the young scientists to make reservations beforehand.
The Meeting also comprised several informal events such as the International Get-Together hosted by South Africa, cultural diversity at the Bavarian Evening and a boat trip to Mainau Island along with a Science Picnic.
This Meeting was a great experience that I will treasure forever in my career path. All activities were very informative, inspiring and motivating me to continue my work in Sciences.
For six days at the Meeting, I have completed the following;
|3||30-Jun-19||Opening concert: Ensemble of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra||Stadttheater|
|5||01-Jul-19||Attended Agora Talks||Inselhalle|
|6||01-Jul-19||Attended Open Exchange||Inselhalle|
|7||01-Jul-19||Attended Poster Flashes session||Stadttheater|
|8||01-Jul-19||Attended International Get-Together event hosted by South Africa||Inselhalle|
|9||02-Jul-19||Joined Morning Workout: Calm Moments: “Balance between Tranquility and Alignment”||Oscar-Groll-Anlage, Lindau|
|11||02-Jul-19||Attended Agora Talks||Inselhalle|
|12||02-Jul-19||Attended Open Exchange||Inselhalle|
|13||02-Jul-19||Attended Grill & Chill: Connecting Cultures event||Toskanapark|
|14||03-Jul-19||Attended Science Breakfast||Inselhalle|
|16||03-Jul-19||Attended Agora Talks||Inselhalle|
|17||03-Jul-19||Attended Open Exchange||Inselhalle|
|18||03-Jul-19||Attended Panel Discussion||Inselhalle|
|20||04-Jul-19||Attended Agora Talks||Inselhalle|
|21||04-Jul-19||Attended Open Exchange||Inselhalle|
|22||04-Jul-19||Attended Panel Discussion||Inselhalle|
|23||04-Jul-19||Attended Bavarian Evening||Inselhalle|
|24||05-Jul-19||Baden-Wurttemberg Boat Trip to Mainau Island||Mainau Island|
|25||05-Jul-19||Panel Discussion||Mainau Island|
|26||05-Jul-19||Science Picnic on the Arboretum Lawn||Mainau Island|
Whom did you think left the biggest impression on you during your time at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting?
Every Nobel Laureate I met, whether it was during giving presentation, on a panel discussion or during lunch was passionate about his or her work. Having informal conversations with them makes me appreciate them not just as Nobel Laureates, but also as regular human beings who have encountered and overcome many obstacles in science and in everyday life.
Out of all the Nobel Laureates, I was most inspired by William D. Philips for his energetic and engaging lectures. He has the ability to engage with the audience by offering a dynamic learning environment in his lecture. I enjoyed listening to his lecture during the Agora talk titled “The New International System of Units”, where he was very enthusiastic to discuss the topic with the audience and provide speedy feedback at all times. Even during informal events like Grill & Chill and Bavarian Evening, he can be seen engaging with different groups of young scientists.
What are the most significant sessions that you’ve attended?
There are several sessions which I think were significant, such as:
- Lecture on “Big Questions for Society, Big Questions for Research” presented by Brian P. Schmidt
- Panel discussion on “How can Science Change the World for the Better?”
- Panel discussion on “The Dark Side of the Universe”
However, I’d say the panel discussion titled “Student, Post-Doc, and then? Aiming for a Career in Science” was the most significant, as this topic is related to my situation as a recent PhD graduate student.
In this panel discussion, three Nobel Laureates and two young scientists shared their stories. They emphasised that even though they made mistakes along the way, they did not give up. Their journeys were not easy, where they had to take different paths to achieve their goals. For instance, Wolfgang Ketterle said he took a “zig-zag journey” as he worked as a postdoc graduate in three different fields before ending up at MIT. He reassured audience members that it is okay to change fields and the knowledge that you have learnt will never be wasted. The other panellist shared their stories of sleepless nights and lack of support from colleagues. However, their hard work paid off –their works were being recognised at the highest level in the scientific field. Donna Strickland and William D. Phillips highlighted the importance of good communication skill in achieving our professional goals and to remain visible as a scientist.
How would you utilise the lessons learnt during this Meeting to enrich your career/research endeavours?
This meeting is very different compared to other national/international conferences I have attended before. In conferences, we usually meet people who works in our own field, and we can get some ideas on how to improve our own research. However, in this Meeting, everyone I met are working in different fields of research and we did not discuss any particular research field in detail. Instead, we discussed the different topics presented during lectures by Nobel Laureates and the common issues we face in science and everyday life, ranging from sustainable and renewable energy to educational structure in universities.
Meeting young scientists from different countries and different research backgrounds made me think about how to explore more ideas to apply in my research and how to link different topics of research and develop something beneficial through good collaboration. Hence, I realized that interacting with the right and trusted scientist is critical for achieving successful collaborations. Meeting Nobel Laureates has changed my perspective on how science education could benefit society, and I realised that as a researcher, we should not just focus on publishing our work in high-impact journals; we should also work to translate our research into industrial applications, and the output of our work should be transparent to the general public.