Have you ever brushed shoulders with a Nobel laureate? No? The Lindau meeting offers a great opportunity, discovers Gauri Rane.
Every year in July, Lindau, a small town, east of Germany, transforms into a nucleus for the scientific community. A confluence of Nobel laureates from across the world comes together to discuss and address student scholars. "The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (LNLM) is an amazing opportunity for students to interact with, and be inspired by some of the world`s most prominent figures in science," says Anjali Devi Das, a Chemisty student doing her Masters at Delhi University. Devi Das is a part of 22-student researcher team visiting Lindau this year.
Since 2006, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) or DFG, an organisation promoting research in Germany, has been sponsoring a group of 22 Indian students, who are passionate about scientific research. The students are on a tour of Germany for two weeks, attending seminars and lectures, interacting with Nobel laureates and exchanging ideas with students from other countries as well. The LNLMs are held annually in June and last for almost a week. The meetings focus on different disciplines of science and are held on a three-year cycle, for instance, Physics in 2012, Chemistry in 2013, and Physiology and Medicine in 2014.
These meetings have helped many young scholars expand their knowledge about various areas of scientific research. Not only do the young researchers get to interact with Nobel laureate, they also get to visit research facilities at various institutes. An official from the DFG who accompanies the student researchers on their visit informs, "Apart from attending the meetings the students have on campus visits to labs which are equipped with the most advanced and recent instruments. Many return aspiring to pursue research either in India or abroad."
For instance, Dr Nasreen Akhtar, assistant professor, Physiology, Faculty of Dentistry, Jamia Millia University, has decided to dedicate herself to research in physiology. "The visit to Germany opened my mind to research. Today, after completing MD and being in academics, I still want to pursue a post doctoral fellowship in Germany where there is ongoing research on Physiology," she says.
The visit has inspired even the current lot of scholars. "I have been working on the structural transition of the human prion protein. My aim is to understand the dynamics of this protein at the atomic level. Atomic level understanding of proteins is indispensable and a key step in drug discovery,” says Shwetha Srinivasan, a third year student at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali. Srinivasan was a part of the 2013 Indian contingent that visited Lindau this year. An excited Srinivasan reminisces about her interaction with scientific masterminds who have made seminal contributions to the field of biochemistry.
Apart from a mere exchange of ideas and inspiration, the student scholars find the LNLM culturally enriching experience that provides them an opportunity to make valuable friendships across countries and fields of study.
UPCOMING TOPICS FOR LNLMs