Dedicated to Interdisciplinary Science
In 2010, I had the good fortune of being one of 75 students chosen to be part of the American delegation to attend the Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates. This annual meeting brings together Nobel Laureates and young researchers from all over the world at the beautiful Lindau Island on Lake Consance in Germany.
The goals of the Lindau Meeting are to provide an environment in which established and successful researchers can interact with the next generation of science researchers. From my understanding of the meeting, it appears as though there will be many opportunities for students to dine, socialize, and otherwise interact with Nobel Laureates throughout the course of this ~6 day meeting. In my mind, I imagine a 6-day “science camp” where the camp counselors are substituted with Nobel Laureates and science reporters, and the “campers” replaced with young scientists from over 70 countries.
Now, I don’t typically get star-struck (probably due to my very limited knowledge/ interest in pop culture), but I have a feeling these 6 days in Lindau will put a swift end my my star-struckedness dry spell. I mean, I imagine running into Françoise Barré-Sinoussi at a local bakery! I can imagine myself stammering with my thick French-Canadian accent “back in the mid-80’s, didn’t you lead a team of scientists to discover the human immunodeficiency virus?” Or how about running into Richard Robert Ernst? “Hello, you invented NMR, I don’t know a single organic chemist in my department who doesn’t take an NMR spectrum on a bi-weekly basis”. Talk about a humbling experience!
During my time in Lindau, I will also be participating in a film series by Nature publishing group. The aim of this film series will be to produce a string of interviews between young researchers and Nobel Laureates. In my application, I requested to interview Dr. Zhores Alferov who won the 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to heterostructure physics. These discoveries were particularly fruitful for the advancement of fiber-optic and wireless technologies. However, Dr. Alferov is also an elected member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, which makes him a perfect interviewee for a science-policy question I’ve had for many years now: It seems as though there is a consistent under-representation of scientists in politics. Here in the U.S. less than 1.5% of congress members are scientists. The UK government has also faced criticism recently on the full programme for government, which mentioned "science" only twice in 36 pages. I could give numerous other examples, but the bottom line is that, by maintaining a strong divide between science and politics, it is likely that scientific issues will end up being poorly addressed in political circles. In Lindau, I will also be participating in the first ever “Lindau Diaries” program, in which I will be responsible for keeping a video diary of my experience in Lindau. I'm also particularly looking forward to interviewing Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, in a Nature Video series to be filmed on the island this year. Check out all the videos on the Nature site.