networking at the 62nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (Physics)

Networking is the secret skill of savvy scientists

Building networks is crucial for young scientists who are at the beginning of their careers. Experienced scientists also play a major role in these networks, not only as role models but also as mentors and advisors. To tackle the demanding issues of our times, scientists of all cultures and all generations will need to join forces through networks. Incidentally, advice to ‘connect’ is an integral component of the leitmotif of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings: ‘Educate. Inspire. Connect.’ Established in 1951, these annual meetings foster the exchange between scientists and researchers of different generations and cultures, and help them connect with each other.

It is the shared desire to address the challenges of our times that unites scientists visiting Lindau every summer. These meetings give them an opportunity for a week of intense discussions, open debates and inspiring encounters. “For this one week in July, I felt a part of the global scientific community in a way that I never had before,” said Nicole Alexandra Larsen, doctoral candidate in astroparticle physics at Yale University in New Haven, USA, of her participation at the 62nd Lindau Meeting, in 2012. “By bringing together some of the greatest minds in the world, this is a perfect venue for actively examining today’s big problems,” she explained.

Networking efforts often pay off. “I must say that some of the young scientists I met at the meeting have since become very close collaborators,” said Ibrahim Cisse from Niger, a post-doc fellow in biophysics at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France, “And I have since made direct contacts in key decision-making centres in the world.” Larsen and Cisse were featured in the films ‘Is Dark Matter Real?’ and ‘Beyond the Classroom,’ produced at the 62nd Lindau Meeting.

The need to network is even more imperious to scientists from countries that are geographically distant from others centres of research. “In Australia we have learned through experience that our scientific survival depends on being connected with the rest of the world,” writes Andrew Holmes, in the 2012 annual report of the Lindau Meetings, communicating in his capacity as Foreign Secretary of the Australian Academy of Science and professor of chemistry at the University of Melbourne.

Asked to describe what distinguishes Lindau from other scientific meetings, Holmes named the opportunity for young scientists to establish lifelong friendships across the globe that will guarantee connectivity for years to come. “Modern science is essentially a collaborative affair. The most exciting advances are at the interfaces of disciplines, and it is obvious that the best people to work on a particular problem are likely to be drawn from more than one country. And the best ideas are likely to be exchanged in such a forum as the Lindau Meetings.”

Initially, the meetings have established a global network of academic partners consisting mainly of academies of science, universities, and research institutions. The academic partners make a substantial contribution to the multi-step nomination and selection process, which enables highly qualified and motivated young scientists from all over the world to apply for an invitation to these meetings. Ultimately, the partner’s input determines the multi-cultural group of scientists who are going to be invited every year.

This year, the forthcoming 63rd Lindau Meeting dedicated to chemistry promised to be well attended. 37 Nobel Laureates have confirmed their intention to be in Lindau between 30 June and 5 July 2013. In addition, 625 young scientists from 78 countries have been invited. This shows that, in more than 60 years, the Lindau Meetings have evolved into a truly international forum.

The Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

Featured image credit: C. Flemming/Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings

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