STAznanost

Promising Slovenian students mingling with Nobel Laureates

Lindau, 5 July - An annual get-together of Nobel Prize winners is currently under way on the German island of Lindau on Lake Constance in Bavaria. Apart from Nobel Laureates, the meeting is also attended by several hundreds up-and-coming young researchers, including four Slovenians.

Each meeting focuses on a different scientific discipline, with this year's get-together putting physics in the spotlight. The programme includes lectures on laser physics, gravitational waves and dark matter as well as graphene, quantum technologies and biology.

The event is attended by 39 Nobel Laureates and 580 budding young researchers and postdoc researchers from across the world. Four Slovenian students - Jan Ravnik, Marko Medenjak, Gal Lemut and Giovanni Banelli, a member of the Slovenian minority in Italy - are among the selected participants.

The annual meetings, which started in 1951, serve as an opportunity for scientists of various generations and disciplines to exchange views, experience and expertise.

The event features lectures and debates as well as social events, such as laureate lunches and science walks, which provide an opportunity for young researchers to interact and mingle with the laureates.

The Slovenian students, who applied for the participation at the initiative of their mentors or leaders of their research groups, said that the event was an important experience in terms of networking.

Ravnik of the Jo┼żef Stefan Institute (IJS), who will pursue his post-doctoral studies in Switzerland, told the STA that some laureates wanted to discuss only physics while others refused to do that completely, adding that they were all willing to share their experience or give a piece of advice regarding science or life in general.

Lemut, a doctoral student who participates in dark matter research in the Netherlands, also stressed the importance of such an event in terms of personal growth as well as career advancement.

Banelli, who is writing a doctorate in theoretical particle physics in Germany, took part in a science walk with US Nobel Laureate David J. Gross, a theoretical physicist and string theorist, and met Italian Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia, a particle physicist and inventor.

"That way you observe the laureates' relations towards science and theory - if they are quite open-minded or have rigid ideas," said Banelli.

According to Medenjak, a postdoc researcher of theoretical physics at the Paris university, the meeting's added value is the opportunity to get acquainted with the development of physics at a wider level.

"At a conference we're often closed in smaller groups, so it's good to hear what's going on elsewhere, particularly from people who have been or are still leading figures in their respective areas," said Medenjak.

The event, which started on Sunday, will end today with a boat trip to Mainau Island, where the closing ceremony will take place, including handing out awards for best posters and a discussion which will address the ways science can change the world for the better.