One of the most important channels for exchange of information between researchers are conferences. Conferences are usually composed of presentations, workshops and include a lot of interaction/networking time between the attendees. Now, imagine attending a conference where some of the greatest minds of our era would attend. A conference that would be more like a meeting and would emphasise more on the interaction between the attendees. That is exactly what the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are.
The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is a meeting held every year in Lindau, Germany. It is a week of long interaction between young scientists and Nobel Prize winners. Every year the meeting is dedicated to a different discipline ( physiology and medicine, on physics, and on chemistry — the three natural science Nobel Prize disciplines).
This year it was all about Physics, with 29 Nobel Laureates and more than 400 young scientists from all over the world, attending the meeting and discussing about the “hot topics” in Physics. Over the course of the week, the young scientists were able to attend presentations given by the Nobel Laureates as well as engage with them, talking both about their research and the problems that they have encountered throughout their career.
We have come in contact with Stephanos Yerolatsitis, one of the young researchers who have attended this year’s meeting and asked him if he could describe us his experience from the event and give some more information about it. You can read everything that Stephanos has told us, in the interview that follows.
Andreas (A): Hi Stephanos, congratulations for being selected to attend this meeting. Could you please describe us how you found the whole experience in general?
Stephanos (S): The whole experience was amazing. First of all, meeting and talking with so many Nobel laureates in one place was unbelievable. Another important thing was the interaction between all these young scientists. When you are working on your PhD, you are quite focused on your field and sometimes you forget about all these other areas of Physics. This meeting was a once in a lifetime opportunity to talk to young scientists, working in so many different areas.
A: What do you mean by “young scientists”?
S: The term “young scientist” refers to an early career researcher. This doesn’t explicitly mean PhD student level or above as I also met undergraduate and master physics students that attended the meeting.
A: How did you apply?
S: There are few different ways you can apply to attend the meeting. One way is to be nominated by an academic partner such as the Royal Society (for the UK), Marie Curie Foundation or Onassis Foundation. If your country does not have an academic partner then you can apply directly to the Lindau Nobel Laurate Meeting.
A: What is the selection procedure?
S: For the UK I had to send a CV and a cover letter to the Royal Society. After being selected by the Royal Society, I had to complete another application for the Lindau Nobel Laureate committee.
A: What was the format of the meeting?
S: As I have already mentioned the meeting was a week long. Every morning there were several half-hour talks from the Nobel Laureates and in the afternoon there were discussion panels based on the morning’s talks. The discussion panel was a good opportunity to talk to the Nobel Laurates and to ask them questions about their research. There were also coffee breaks, lunches and dinners where you could interact with the other young scientists but also talk to the Nobel Laureates. During the meeting there were few different social events, for example the last day we visited a nearby island and had picnic there. It was definitely a “full” but amazing week!
A: Can you give us some names of the Nobel Laureates who were there?
S: 29 Nobel Laurates attended this year’s meeting, amongst them the 2014 Nobel Prize winner (for the creation of the blue LED) Prof. Hiroshi Amano, the 1997 Nobel Prize winner (for developing the technique of cooling and traping atoms with laser light) Prof. Steven Chu and the 2011 Nobel Prize winner (for proving the acceleration of the universe expansion) Prof. Brian P. Schmidt.
A: So, did you talk to the Nobel Laureates?
S: Yes, I had short talks with a few of them but I also had a very interesting conversation with Prof. Gerardus ‘t Hooft about quantum computing. During the meeting there were several opportunities to talk to the Nobel Laureates. You could attend their afternoon discussion panels or catch a quick talk with them during coffee breaks.
The Nobel Laureates also had lunch and dinner with the young scientists so if you were lucky enough you could find yourself sitting next to a Nobel Laureate.
A: Are any of those seminars given by the Nobel Laureates available online?
S: All the seminars are available online at the meeting’s website. Previous meetings seminars are also available.
A: Could you please tell us a few words about the aim of your research?
S: I am currently working at the Centre for Photonics and Photonic Materials at University of Bath (U.K.) in a major multidisciplinary project. The goal is to deliver a healthcare technology which will sit next to the bedside of a critically ill patient in intensive care units.
We are grateful to Stephanos for sharing all this exciting information with us. We would also like to wish him all the best in the future, with even more success stories in his new role now as a Post-Doctoral researcher at Bath.
*Credits to Stephanos and Philippos Papadakis for the photographic material.