Dr. Ibrahim S. Aminu at the 71st Lindau Laureate Meeting
Posted: 20 September, 2022
The influential Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings date back to 1951 and provide an important opportunity for young and early career researchers to join Nobel Laureates from their fields in workshops, lectures and cross-generational exchanges of ideas. Dr Ibrahim S Aminu (UL), a researcher specializing in the development of advanced and sustainable materials for next-generation energy store applications, attended the Nobel Laureate Meetings in Lindau and documented his experience.
Initially selected to participate in the 70th Lindau Meeting in 2020 (where Covid-19 restrictions meant he participated virtually), he was given the opportunity to participate in-person at the 71st Meeting in 2022. The IRC sponsored Dr Aminu’s attendance, alongside two other Ireland-based researchers, Dr Adele Gabba (NUI, Galway and MIT) and Dr Joseph Byrne (NUI, Galway) (pictured below).
Representative participants from #TeamIreland (L-R: Dr Ibrahim S. Aminu, Dr Adele Gabba, Dr Joseph Byrne.
Dr Aminu explained his excitement in knowing that the opportunity would represent “a unique platform that could lead to opening more channels to a brighter future for [his] research”. In addition to the professional opportunities, Ibrahim described the magnificent setting: “Lindau is littered with beautiful medieval buildings including beautiful church buildings and winding narrow alleys”.
The program line-up was intensive (with meeting events beginning at 7am and ending at 8pm) and involved a balancing of activities from his personal agenda and the general programme outline. He attended numerous focused events (such as ‘New Outlook on Nuclear Fusion to Combat Climate Change’ and ‘Mathematics: Science of Art?’), direct open-exchanges with Nobel Laureates, general discussions on “hot topics” (like ‘Artificial Intelligence in Chemistry’) as well as entertainment that included a live performance from an Ensemble of the Vienna Philharmonic at the Stadttheater.
Dr Aminu emphasised the considerable access he and other early career scientists had to the Laureates. No topic was off limits, from the scientific to the personal:
“The open exchange was outstanding and intimate as we could have a direct chat with the Laureates and ask them multiple questions ranging from their own research areas to topics they have no clues on. And yes, that also included their personal life journeys and what informed their decision and steps taken, leading to their present status.”
Combining social and scientific interactions: photos (L-R) with Prof Sir Konstantin S Novoselov (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2010) after an open exchange event at the Hotel Bayer Hof, following his Lecture on “Materials of the Future” at the Inselhalle hall.
Dr Aminu had the opportunity to have discussions with most of the Laureates in attendance, including Prof Bernard L. Feringa (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2016), Sir Konstantin S Novoselov (Nobel Prize in Physics, 2010), Prof Dr H. Michel (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1988), Prof Venki Ramakrishnan (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009) and Prof Kurt Wüthrich (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2002). He mentioned how much he valued their directness and honesty in their interactions with young and early career scientists, and summarised the principal insights he came away with:
“Their personal life journey was humbling to listen to yet filled with determinations and the power of endurance. What I gather from them is to be honest with yourself and believe in your research findings however peculiar unless clearly proven otherwise by other researchers or yourself. Great things don’t always come from the general norm.”
Photos (L-R) with Prof. Dr. H. Michel (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1988); Prof Bernard L. Feringa (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2016); and Prof. Venki Ramakrishnan (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2009)
Given Ibrahim’s particular interest and specialism in high-capacity materials (and their applications in lithium-ion batteries for traction applications in electric vehicles), one event stands out as particularly beneficial to his current research: “the OBRIST event for “the Curious Mind” whereby the company (OBRIST) presented their methanal/battery based powered Hybrid EV that uses zero Vibration e-Power Generator instead of CO2 emitting ICE fuels.” Given his passion for improving power systems for electric vehicles, this development, which might mean the cost of their hybrid electric vehicle could be as low as €21,000 (notwithstanding some important production demands) was particularly exciting.
The OBRIST e-Power Train (a small methanol engine and a quarter of the battery from Tesla model S).
In addition to the more technical and training-focused aspects of the programme, the social and networking opportunities were abundant. In addition to his many direct and personal conversations with Nobel Laureates and leaders from science and industry, he valued the opportunity to meet and discuss his research with “students, postdocs, professors, industry players, and even local nurses”. Summarising the benefits of the “mingle and chill sections” for Researcher Identification and Mapping, he explained: “Meeting young researchers was extremely important and would be very useful for developing a team of collaborators for my research in the future.”
Photos (above) with Prof Kurt Wüthrich (Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2002) and other Young Scientists in attendance at an open exchange event; and (below) with a new lab mate (Malenia) of a former lab mate.
Networking and connectivity were key benefits of attendance. “As a researcher looking to grow my list of research collaborations, the meeting was a “one-stop shop” to identify, map and develop connections that could lead to “bog research” and that is beyond the reach of any single academic conference.”
Dr Aminu enthusiastically recommends the opportunity to anyone who can apply to it, describing the Lindau event as “the only place you would ever find most Nobel Laureates at one place together with highly talented and curious young minds and government reps, all focused on one area of human endeavour, Science.”
The next meeting, the 7th Lindau Meeting on Economic Sciences (also postponed from 2020) will take place on the 23-27th August 2022.