What and Where is Lindau ?

In the second year of my undergraduate studies, I met a senior who among other things told me that she was spending all her free time filling up an application form to take part in ‘Lindau’. Wide eyed and probably with naïvity plastered across my face I asked her what ‘Lindau’ was. She told me it was a chance for young scientists like me (and her) to listen to lectures by Nobel Laureates and meet other young scientists. It’s an event that can guide your scientific career she softly added. She also suggested that I apply for the Asian Science Camp which is a smaller version of the Lindau Meet for young scientists in Asia. I looked it up online and I went back to her and told her that I wasn’t good enough to be among the 30 candidates from India. I don’t have any research experience, I am not brilliant, I’m just a normal girl who likes physics I complained, there’s no way I’ll get selected. Just apply and leave the decision to the committee was all she said. It was the push I needed and I applied and got selected and you can read about my Asian Science Camp story here. She too got selected to attend the 62nd Lindau Meet (Physics) and came back even more determined than ever.

68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Photo credit: Nimke, https://www.lindau-nobel.org/

Fast forward 7 years. I’m a more confident (not-so-naïve) young scientist and when my supervisor forwarded an email inviting applications for the 69th Lindau Meet (Physics) I immediately went about preparing the application. I was also much better informed. The meet is named after the place where it is held. Lindau is an island town in Lake Constance in the southern end of Germany near the meeting point of the Austrian, German and Swiss borders. It is a historic town with Roman remains dating to the 1st century. The first Lindau Meet was held in 1951 and seven Nobel Laureates participated in what was called “European Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Medicine”. The meeting became annual and the subject alternates between physiology and medicine, physics and chemistry – the three natural science Nobel Prize disciplines. An interdisciplinary meeting bringing the three disciplines together is held every five years.

68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Photo credit: Kunkel https://www.lindau-nobel.org/

Each Lindau Meet is attended by about 30 Nobel Laureates and 600 young scientists under the age of 35 in various stages on their scientific career – undergraduates, PhD students, and post-doc researchers. There are various kinds of programmes in the week long meet. Typical lectures, Science Walks where a Nobel Laureate and ten young scientists get the opportunity for informal discussions during a walk in Lindau, Panel Discussions, Master Classes where the young scientists present their work to a Nobel Laureate and get feedback from peers and the laureate. Social programmes form a large part of the event as one of the aims of the meet is to promote networking and hence encourage scientific collaboration. I received a ‘Preliminary Programme Structure’ along with the email that confirmed my selection and it looks busy. Each day starts with breakfast where the networking starts followed by talks and other sessions with the Nobel Laureates and the day ends with a social event where the networking continues.

580 Young Scientists from 88 countries have been selected to participate in this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. I am excited and nervous to be one among them. The 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, which will be held in this summer, is dedicated to physics. The key topics are cosmology, laser physics and gravitational waves inspired by the winners of the 2018 prize. The 80th anniversary of the discovery of nuclear fission will also be celebrated through special talks and blog posts. A press release says that 34% of the selected participants are women and that a record 41 laureates are participating in the meet including the 2018 Nobel Laureates in Physics, Donna Strickland and Gérard Mourou.

The Lindau Meetings cooperate with more than 200 of the most renowned science and research institutions worldwide. The European Commission is also a partner and since I am a Marie Curie Fellow as part of an EU ITN, they supported my application. So first MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS screened my application and nominated me. Then the scientific review panel appointed by the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings went through my application. The process started in November 2018 and I got to know of the result in March 2019. I have a couple of months to get ready and I’m thinking hard about the questions I want to ask the Nobel Laureates. I’m sure I am going to meet some wonderful young scientists at Lindau just like I did at the Asian Science Camp.

This post is by ESR 3 Rijutha Jaganathan who is pursuing her PhD in Aarhus University.

You can read more about the Lindau Meet on the official webpage.