64th Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Lindau, Germany

From left to right: Maria Markoulli, Hannah Moore, Angela Spence, Sonia Troeira-Henriques
Members of the Australian delegation at the International Day science breakfast that featured a panel discussion on women in science. From left to right: Maria Markoulli, Hannah Moore, Angela Spence, Sonia Troeira-Henriques

The inspiring Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings, held annually in Germany since 1951, introduce Nobel Prize winners in chemistry, physiology, medicine and physics to younger generations of scientists. Since 2004 the Academy has supported an annual delegation of young Australian researchers, accompanied by a member of the Academy's Council and since 2013 the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF) has provided fellowships for 10 or 15 Australia-based early-career scientists to attend.

The 64th meeting of Nobel Laureates held from 29 June to 4 July 2014 in the German city of Lindau focused on physiology and medicine. The meeting was attended by 37 Nobel Laureates and more than 600 young researchers who were selected on a competitive basis from approximately 20,000 applicants worldwide. Nobel Laureates Elizabeth Blackburn, Brian Schmidt and Barry Marshall represented Australia. Professors Suzanne Cory and Jerry Adams led a delegation of 15 outstanding young Australian scientists, all in the fields of physiology or medicine.

Nobel laureates
The Australian delegation of young scientists with Trade and Investment Minister Andrew Robb (centre); Australian Ambassador to Germany Mr David Ritchie (left of centre); Academy Secretary Biological Sciences Marilyn Renfree (left of Mr Ritchie); Emma Johnston (right of centre); and delegation leaders Suzanne Cory and Jerry Adams (far right).

Australian science, innovation, technology, education, food and wine were on show during the 2014 Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting as, for the first time, Australia hosted the annual International Day.

The International Day began featured a science breakfast with a panel discussion on women in science, moderated by Adam Spencer. The panellists (Elizabeth Blackburn, Brian Schmidt, Suzanne Cory and the inaugural winner of the Academy’s Nancy Millis Medal for Women in Science, Professor Emma Johnston) shared their own experiences and views on the subject.

The Hon. Andrew Robb, Minister for Trade and Investment, welcomed everyone at the evening International Get Together, followed by an Australian musical performance by recorder virtuoso Genevieve Lacey and harpist Marshall McGuire. Emma Johnston then spoke to the audience about why she has the best job in the world—as a marine biologist in Australia. The ABC Science Show featured a segment on the meeting, which you can listen to online.

Here are some impressions on the meeting from participants:

Attending a pre-meeting dinner at a stunningly beautiful hotel on the banks of Lake Konstanz where we were greeted by the very personable Professor Johanna Wanka, German Minister for Education and Research, and Countess Bettina Bernadotte, the host of the Lindau Meeting, was the first in a week of many ‘pinch me I’m dreaming’ moments. Rebecca Segrave, Monash University
My favourite moment was the lecture by Nobel Laureate Prof Oliver Smithies. Not only is he a pioneer in my particular field of science but he is also a pioneer in free thinking and generating inspiration in others. Prof Smithies lifted me and others during his presentation ‘Where do ideas come from?’ in a way that is hard to describe. Every Lindau delegate I spoke to felt electrified after his presentation, with a new, exciting drive for science. I had the fortune to speak to him briefly afterwards and he is as humble as he is brilliant. He is an inspiration to young scientists and what I had hoped to gain from Lindau. Ross Hamilton, CSIRO
The Nobel Laureates seemed just as interested to hear about our own lives and experiences, as we were to hear about theirs. It was also a great way to think outside the box and have discussions in topic areas outside of our own. Most of the questions asked had more to do with daily life or managing a busy research team, rather than specific questions about the research itself. It also allowed us to better understand our fellow Australians and their similar or different experiences in starting our careers, with the benefit of hearing advice or comments from a Nobel Laureate. Rae-Anne Hardie, Garvan Institute of Medical Research

Nominations for the 2015 meeting have now closed, but please register with lindau@science.org.au if you would like to be informed when the call for the 2016 Meeting (dedicated to physics) opens. More information on the application process.

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