Congratulations to Lab postdocs Lindsay Bassman (CSA), Marlene Turner (PSA), and research scientist Michael Whittaker (EESA) for being selected as participants in this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, as part of the UC President’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting Fellowship program. They will attend virtual lectures and interactive sessions with 40 Nobel laureates around the world from June 27 to July 2.
Once every year, Nobel Laureates are invited to meet the next generation of leading scientists: undergraduates, PhD students, and postdoc researchers from all over the world. In past years, the meeting has been held in Lindau, Germany, but with COVID restrictions, this year’s event will be online. UC has been a participant in this meeting, and for the first time, has included Berkeley Lab postdocs in their selection process.
All three postdocs are excited about the upcoming meeting. Marlene Turner from the Physical Sciences Area said, “What I am looking forward to the most are the discussions on what enabled successful scientists to make groundbreaking discoveries or technological advances. What do they believe was the most crucial skill they acquired and what enabled them to think creatively and break the knowledge frontier?”
Lindsay Bassman has also been thinking about the discovery of new fundamental laws of nature, and how important it is to cross discoveries in different scientific inches to produce innovations. “I hope to learn on a personal level what the Nobel laureates’ experiences were leading up to their Nobel-worthy discovery. Did the discovery come as a single “Eureka!” moment or did it come in small, discrete advances in understanding? Did the laureates take a top-down approach, positing a seemingly wild theory and trying various methods to prove it, or did they take a bottom-up approach, methodically building up proven blocks into some new conclusion? These are questions that are not generally answered in more formal academic settings,” she said. “My goal in attending this meeting is to learn from the personal stories of the laureates how they stitched together their expertise in different disciplines to approach the scientific process and garner any advice they have for using interdisciplinary insights to discover something wholly novel.”
Michael Whittaker from the Earth and Environmental Sciences Area is likewise looking forward to the cross-pollination of ideas. “I’m really excited to meet someone who has solved a major problem in their field that will also answer a major outstanding question of mine, and we just haven’t realized it yet. Perhaps breakthroughs by my LBL colleagues Lindsay and Marlene in quantum computing and accelerator physics will allow me to extract critical minerals from natural environments without contributing to climate change? Some of the best ideas I’ve had were borrowed from seemingly unrelated fields, like structural biology, and I’m excited to discover some of the best ideas I haven’t heard of yet!”
The Lab looks forward to their reports from the meeting!