At the intersection of science and culture: an unforgettable journey across Europe.

Authors: Ekaterina Koshevaya (Ph.D.-student at the Institute of Chemistry, Ekaterinburg, Ural Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences) & Sani Harouna-Mayer (M.Sc.-student of Nanoscience at University of Hamburg, Hamburg)

A group picture of all participants at FRM II. | Photos: Kasper van der Zwan, Uni Bayreuth

What is the Travelling Seminar?

This autumn a unique scientific event was held. The Travelling Seminar 2018 is a summer school on the topic of ‘Nanomaterials and Large-Scale Research Centers’. It yearly alternates between Russia and Germany. The first Travelling Seminar was held in 2008 by Prof. Andrey Rempel (Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences & Ural Federal University, Ekaterinburg, Russia) and Prof. Andreas Magerl (Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany). This year’s organizing team featured in addition two young professors, Mirijam Zobel (Universität Bayreuth, Germany) and Andrey Shibaev (Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russia) with Prof. Zobel acting as the main organizer. The Travelling Seminar 2018 started from Munich in southern Germany. We then travelled via Vienna and Leoben in Austria to Trieste in Italy.

What’s so unique about the seminar?

Travel and science is a perfect combination, isn’t it? It is already the 8th seminar that collects like-minded people from different parts of Russia and Germany for travelling, intercultural and scientific exchange. All these 12 days (yes, the whole 12 days!) we spent side by side with each other, we lived, travelled and studied together. This allowed us to get very close in a friendly and scientific sense. Scientific discussions did not stop even in the bus or restaurant. Altogether, the travelling seminar favors to establish scientific connections and collaborations more than any other scientific event.

The atmosphere was really unique! Where else do you see the explanation of how to choose the radiation for investigation of matter by the example of a glass of beer? What about learning how to play ping-pong with neutrons?

Professor Andreas Magerl gives the lecture “Why radiation, which radiation”.

What was included in the scientific part?

The scientific part of our trip was really exciting. We have seen many novel scientific centers equipped with the latest technology and have attended lectures from experienced scientists.

The participants were provided an insight into the everyday life of a scientist by visiting different universities, small but exciting research institutes as well as impressive large-scale research facilities. Further, opportunities were provided to extend the knowledge about the possibilities of nanomaterials and scattering methods by lectures of the organizing professors and representatives from the visited facilities. An idea about the extent of nanoscience was given by interesting talks with inspiring rounds of discussions of each participant presenting their own research.

During the visits of the research facilities FRM II (Munich), ELETTRA (Trieste) and Atominstitut (Vienna) and the universities in Munich, Vienna and Leoben the physics and possibilities of X-ray and neutron scattering methods were taught. We could hereby directly come in touch with its impressive application and get to know the scientific world at its best. The guided tours in the huge steel factory and industry related university in Leoben further showed the bridge between science and economy.

What was included in the cultural part?

Moreover, the cultural part didn’t miss out at all. The program of the seminar was quite intense because of the guided tours of the cities and touristic attractions in addition to the tight scientific program. Though, there was more than enough free time included so we could explore the cities by ourselves. Some participants for example took the opportunity to visit the Venice opera or the Albertina museum in Vienna. Others preferred to taste local beer in the bars. Most important however, by coming together on a scientific and a social level, friendships developed, which may lay the foundation for future collaborations.

This seminar provides a perfect opportunity to expand your scientific and cultural horizon, to practice language and public speaking skills, learn more about different countries, their national cuisine and traditions.

How to participate?

20 students – half Russian, half German – who are interested in nanomaterials and scattering methods, were selected by the organizing committee for participating in the Travelling Seminar 2018. The seminar is mostly aimed for M.Sc. and 1st year Ph.D. students of Physics, Chemistry and Materials sciences.

The procedure is very simple! All you need to do is to write a motivation letter for participation accompanied by a prospective title of your talk and CV and submit them to the organizing committee. Russian participants had also to confirm their knowledge of English in the form of an interview. Both, Russia and Germany, are supporting the idea of strengthening the connection between the two countries and thus provide financial support for the Travelling Seminar.

Last but not least we want to thank all organizers Mirijam Zobel, Andrey Shibaev, Andreas Magerl, Andrey Rempel, Maxim Vlasov and Mirco Eckardt for this great Travelling Seminar!

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