The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2019 hosted 580 international young scientists from 88 countries and 40 Nobel Laureates. The prestigious meeting provides outstanding scientists with the opportunity to engage with Nobel Laureates and other exemplary scientists and build life-long scientific connections. Selection to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is an extremely competitive process with over 20,000 researchers applying to attend every year.
Dr Niamh Kavanagh’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Award was funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC), selected through national and international processes by the IRC and the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Niamh’s PhD research was funded by a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship from the IRC and partly funded by the Irish Photonic Integration Centre (IPIC) and Science Foundation Ireland.
2020, a new year and new resolutions. Have you ever met a Nobel Laureate? To inspire you, Tyndall PhD graduate Dr Niamh Kavanagh shares her experience at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting.
1. When you received your invite to the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting who was the first person you told and why?
I think the first person I told was probably my supervisor, Dr Fatima Gunning. She had helped me with the application & written a recommendation letter for me so she was delighted to find out!
2. Who or what inspired you at the event?
I was inspired by the Turing award winners, Martin Hellman and Vint Cerf. In memory of Alan Turing, I did an interview with Prof. Hellman for LGBT STEM day on July 5th and it was inspiring to hear him speak so passionately about equality, diversity and inclusion. Dr Cerf is often recognized as one of "the fathers of the Internet", so as someone researching in that field it was a great honour to meet him. He was so kind when I spoke to him. They both showed me that you can be incredibly accomplished while also maintaining a strong sense of kindness, friendliness and determination to do what is right.
3. How has this experience impacted you and your research?
Speaking with the other young scientists and realising that we shared many of the same struggles made me feel much less alone. It is great to know that there is such camaraderie when facing the challenges that research can present.
4. Selection to attend the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting is extremely competitive. What is your advice to young scientists aspiring to attend this prestigious event?
Go for it! Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations, make sure you provide your CV to those writing your letters so they can easily highlight your accomplishments. I would say that the application process is relatively lengthy and includes lots of writing (filling out online forms etc) but that it is a useful exercise for self-reflection, evaluating your goals and writing about your achievements. Also, if you are applying, make sure to volunteer for every opportunity that you can – I proposed an idea & ended up being part of a panel alongside three Nobel Laureates, that was an amazing experience.
5. Where do you see yourself in ten years’ time?
I chose to study science to satisfy my curiousity, fulfil my hopes of having a good career and find the place in life where I could make a difference. Essentially, I want to understand how our world works and how we can change it for the better. So, I hope I am doing that in ten years’ time!
Follow Niamh on her research journey on Twitter.