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Group photograph outside the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum of the roughly three dozen scientists who will be attending this year's Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany. The scientists visited the Texas A&M campus for a two-day workshop, held May 16-17, 2024, in preparation for the prestigious event.
A group of scientists who will be attending this year’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings in Germany visited the Texas A&M University campus last week for a two-day workshop related to the prestigious event. | Image: Butch Ireland

A select group of young scientists gathered at Texas A&M University last week in preparation for the upcoming 73rd Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau, Germany.

The young scientists — a total of 32 students and postdoctoral researchers from across the country — will join more than 600 of their peers from around the world at this year’s meetings, set for June 30 - July 5.

Seven students and one postdoctoral researcher from Texas A&M will be among the participants. The scientists were nominated to participate in the gathering by their institutions and then selected by Lindau’s scientific review panel.

Madison Edwards ’25 (Department of Chemistry), Alex Hilty ’24 (Department of Computer Science and Engineering), Alex Strasser ’19 (Department of Materials Science and Engineering), David Thomas ’24 (J. Mike Walker '66 Department of Mechanical Engineering) and Addy Evans '21, Shachar Gottlieb '25, Gabriel Larios and Jiaxuan Wang (Department of Physics and Astronomy) will be representing Texas A&M in Lindau.

Last week’s gathering on the Texas A&M campus gave the 2024 Lindau participants an opportunity to tour the campus and research facilities, network with the group members and meet with Texas A&M faculty and administrators. With support from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the College of Arts and Sciences, the group visited the Cyclotron Institute, Institute for Quantum Science and Engineering, and the Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics, among other sites.

Kamal Rudra, who recently completed a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, said the workshop on campus was a great opportunity to meet peers and faculty and learn about what motivated their interest in their research.

Texas A&M University professor Joerg Steiner talks with students outside the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy who are participating in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings during a campus tour
Dr. Joerg Steiner, university distinguished professor of veterinary medicine and faculty liaison for the Office of the Vice President for Research, chats with students participating in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings during a tour of the Texas A&M University campus. | Image: Butch Ireland

“What I keep noticing in their stories is that innovative scientists often encounter initial rejection of their ideas,” Rudra said. “I am always inspired by how people persevere through those kinds of challenges. At Lindau, we’re going to get to meet people who overcame those challenges and conducted research that changed the world. What’s more inspiring than that?”

The campus visit was coordinated by the Office of the Provost, in collaboration with the Division of Research, the Graduate and Professional School, the Office for Faculty Affairs and the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study.

The two-day event represents one aspect of a larger initiative at Texas A&M.

Last summer, the university reached a four-year agreement with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Foundation to be one of the organization’s main U.S. academic partners outside California; the University of California System has a similar agreement with Lindau to provide opportunities for young scientists from California. As part of that agreement, Texas A&M will conduct a first round of nomination reviews before forwarding selected nominees on to the Lindau scientific review panel to make final decisions and extend invites to the annual meeting. The university then will host a pre-Lindau Meeting preparatory session on campus and support the travel for a number of those invited.

This summer, Texas A&M will support 21 of the 32 students and postdocs selected to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. The other 11 will be supported by corporate partner Amgen. In addition, Texas A&M will host “International Day” at Lindau, which opens with a partner breakfast and panel discussion on the role of physics in solving the global problems of the 21st century featuring Nobel laureate Bill Phillips and two faculty and one young scientist from Texas A&M. The day will conclude with cross-cultural sharing of food and activities.

Dr. Joerg Steiner, university distinguished professor of veterinary medicine and faculty liaison for the Office of the Vice President for Research, has spearheaded the initiative. “Texas A&M is filling an important need in the U.S.,” Steiner said. “Outside of California, there’s no U.S. academic institution doing what we’re doing.”

Dr. Alan Sams, executive vice president and provost at Texas A&M, said it was an honor to host the scholars to help them prepare for the meeting in Germany.

“Attending a Nobel Laureate Meeting is transformational for a young scientist," Sams said. "We’re giving the most promising students and post-docs at Texas A&M and around the country a chance at a potentially life- and career-changing experience and we’re preparing them to make the most of that experience. In addition, we get an opportunity to showcase our university by bringing young scholars from around the country to our campus and showing them all our university has to offer, then sending them to Lindau as a cohort supported by Texas A&M.”

The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings provide an international forum for intellectual exchange and collaboration. The event, which was established in 1951, feature lectures, discussions and workshops that cover a range of scientific disciplines, rotating annually between physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine, with a meeting dedicated to economics every three years. This year, nearly 40 Nobel Laureates in physics will be in attendance.

Hannah Dattilo, a doctoral student at Vanderbilt University, said she is most interested in the exchange of ideas with such accomplished researchers. “Events like this and Lindau,” Dattilo said, “are hallmarks of what collaboration looks like, and they contradict the stereotype of the mad scientist working alone in a lab. Working together and sharing ideas and insights is how we move science forward.”

Graphic promoting the 73rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Texas A&M students said they enjoyed having the workshop on campus and are proud that Texas A&M has partnered with Lindau.

“These two days have been like a crash course in cutting-edge research,” said Thomas, a senior mechanical engineering major. “I am just trying to soak it all in, and having a small community will make it easier to interact with the larger community at Lindau. This has been a great primer.”

Strasser, a Texas A&M doctoral student in materials science and engineering, said he was excited about the university’s effort through the initiative to connect students and the university with the international scientific community.

“I am interested in philosophical questions surrounding physics,” Strasser said. “I have already been blown away by the diversity of ideas on this topic just from the students and post-docs I’ve met here. I’m excited to see the perspectives from people of different cultures I’ll encounter at the meeting in Lindau.”

Sams said he was pleased that the students and post-docs were getting so much out of the workshop and were excited for their upcoming trip.

“We hope we are building lifelong relationships between our university and these future scholars. Perhaps the next time they visit Lindau, they will be faculty researchers representing Texas A&M as Nobel Laureates.”

See the complete list students and postdocs selected to attend the 73rd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and May 16-17 pre-meeting workshop, as supported by both Texas A&M and Amgen, via the link below.

This story was originally published by Texas A&M Today.