“Educate. Inspire. Connect.” This is the mission statement of the Lindau meeting, and this year’s meeting absolutely succeeded in fulfilling all three objectives. Here, I will tell some stories in a series of posts to illustrate some of the highlights of the meeting as they relate to these three goals of this meeting.
The Lindau meeting was definitely an educational and inspirational experience, but long after the details of the words spoken by the Nobel Laureates leave my mind will remain the connections I made with my peers throughout the week. Though the organization of the meeting did not leave much “free time” persay, we did have a number of hours each day that were dedicated to fostering interactions with other students over coffee breaks, lunches, and dinners (which on many evenings also extended later into the night in the Bavarian beer gardens). The conversations often began with basic introductions of country of origin and area of research, and quickly delved deeper either into detailed questions about specific research projects or sometimes, into more philosophical exchanges about global health challenges or political invovlement of scientists. I witnessed a number of informed problem solving sessions, in which one student would describe a project and bring up an obstacle to progress of that project, and an entire table of students, often from three different countries and different disciplines, would suggest ways to approach the problem with a different perspective.
I had one such interaction with a woman from Cuba who is studying in Florida. As I was describing difficulties my lab experiences with cloning recombinant viruses using the bacterial artificial chromosome system, she stopped me and explained that her project dealt with bacterial genetics of this same system. We had a lively discussion about troubleshooting options, and I will return home with suggestions about how to attempt to improve our success rate.
I thought I might be “scienced out” by the end of this week, but instead I feel even more energized about basic science research, and have gained many new perspectives from my future colleagues in fields very close and very different than my own. Many students from the American delegation are already planning future symposia for which interested student alumni from these meetings could return annually to present their research and maintain these connections that have been created during this one productive week. I truly believe I spent the week in Lindau with some of the best future scientists from around the world, and I look forward to having some of these students as my future colleagues.
And to close this series of blog posts, here are a few very important notes I have taken away from Lindau:
1. Nobel Laureates are all great scientists, but luck also plays a big role in making the significant discoveries (“In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind”)
2. Beer gardens + very little sleep = lots of coffee –> dehydration
3. (I hate to admit this one) It is indeed possible to fall asleep during a lecture by a Nobel Laureate.