• Saloni Rose

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2018: Part 1

It has almost been an year since I attended the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. I have been quite busy since, and haven't had the opportunity to write about my experience. Now that I am relatively free, I am going to write about different aspects of the experience in a series of posts. Enjoy!

The Application

I still fondly remember my freshman years at IISER Mohali. I was a really overenthusiastic student trying to stand out in the crowd. I would attend talks organised by different clubs including the Biological Discussion Forum, Curie Club etc. My senior Shweta who is pursuing her PhD at MIT told me about Asian Science Camp and the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting at a Curie Club presentation. I knew then I need to really work hard to go to prestigious events like this and keep up to the standards my seniors had set. I had to get good grades, do good research work and participate in extracurricular activities. Four years later, I had an opportunity to apply for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (Theme: Physiology). By then, I was the topper of the biology department, did internships abroad, won the Inter-IISER Badminton Championships 4 times and was the Co-Convener of BDF(Biological Discussion Forum). I knew I had a good chance and started working on my Lindau application the day the applications were open. The applications were evaluated by the Department of Science and Technology, India and then nominations were sent to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Committee. I received no emails for four months from either organisation, so I assumed I was not among the chosen candidates. On 26 Feb 2018, I received a direct email from the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Committee when I was playing badminton with my friends.

I was so ecstatic, I started jumping on the court. I called up my parents and friends to let them know. Needless to say, they were very proud. Later, I found out one of my friends from IISER Kolkata with whom I went to the Asian Science Camp was selected too. I was so excited to go to this event, that too with a friend. In addition to the meeting, we had an opportunity to tour all around Germany and visit different universities and the entire trip was sponsored by the DST and DFG.

Before we left for Germany, we had a Pre-departure meeting in Delhi. All the selected candidates got an opportunity to interact with ourselves and the officials accompanying us. More importantly, we were told that we were representing our country and we had to do our best to keep up our name.

To reach Lindau, we had to take two flights, one from Delhi to Frankfurt and another Frankfurt to Munich, and then travel by road. Our flight to Frankfurt was delayed because Air India systems crashed, so we missed our connecting flight to Munich. We reached Lindau early morning after a five-hour bus ride from Frankfurt.

Lindau is a lovely island on the lake Constance (in the southern part of Bavaria,Germany).

The photo above is of me standing in front of the famous harbor entrance. There are not enough words to describe how beautiful the island was. The cobble stone roads, the scenic view of the Alps, the lovely summer blooms and pleasant weather was the perfect combination.

Day 1

We started the day with the registration where we received the official ID cards, booklets and schedule. We had some time to kill before the opening ceremony, so we went on a guided tour to August Macke's Gallery. Macke was one of the pioneers of German Expressionism and it was lovely to see how his style was influenced by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists.

Opening Ceremony

The opening ceremony was inaugurated by a speech from the Countess Bettina Bernadotte, the president of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. She has been involved in the organisation of this event for almost a decade. This was followed by the keynote lecture "Science Policy and Science and Society" by Elizabeth Blackburn who received Nobel Prize in 2009 for discovering the the role of telomeres in protection of chromosomes.

In her talk, Prof Blackburn made several important points:

1. Science Communication: Prof Blackburn stressed that despite the dearth of scientific evidence around us, policies are implemented with no consideration of the evidence. We, as young scientists, developed our acumen to evaluate and critically asses evidence, therefore communicate it effectively to the officials involved in policies.

2. "Science is not NATIONAL, it is truly GLOBAL": Cross-cultural human interaction is important for progress in science. Several important ideas in the past have developed through collaboration. Therefore, we must make science more inclusive and draw on the whole of humanity.

3. "Curiosity driven science is the engine we must support" : Society values science because of it's role in improvement of standard of life. While applications are important, curiosity driven basic science is what we need for long-term benefits of humanity.

Quite an inspiring talk!! After this, we attended the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and had dinner with the participants.

More about the main session in my next post!!

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