Studying these cells could lead to new treatments for diseases ranging from gastrointestinal disease to diabetes.
Jeffrey A. Bowers, a graduate student in physics, working with Assistant Professor of Physics Krishna Rajagopal, will be one of 36 American graduate students in biology, physics and chemistry who will spend June 26-30 in Lindau, Germany, meeting with 66 Nobel laureates.
The US Department of Energy is sponsoring the trip for students in their second or third year of graduate work who are part of scientific teams doing research with funding from the department.
Mr. Bowers, who works in the Center for Theoretical Physics, a heavily DOE-supported entity that is part of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science, was nominated by Professor Robert Jaffe of physics.
"I don't quite know what to expect," Mr. Bowers said of the upcoming trip. "It's a good opportunity. You don't get a chance too often to meet a bunch of Nobel laureates." Even though he doesn't know which laureates will be there, he said he is excited at the prospect of mingling with some of the "legends of physics" whose names and work he has studied for years, among them Hans Bethe, Murray Gell-Mann and Steven Weinberg.
The 50th anniversary meeting of Nobel laureates will bring together some 600 graduate students from Europe, Africa, Asia and North America to hear lectures and participate in daily small group discussions with the Nobel prize winners.
"The Department of Energy has supported the research of more Nobel laureates than any other organization, so we feel a special tie to this prestigious meeting," said US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. "Science is an increasingly international effort, so it is essential that our researchers who are just starting their scientific careers have opportunities to meet their counterparts and learn from those whose discoveries have profoundly affected all of our lives."
Each year since 1951, Nobel prize winners in chemistry, physics or physiology and medicine have met in Lindau to discuss issues of importance in their fields with students from around the world. Scientists from each discipline have met every three years, but this year to commemorate the 50th anniversary, all three disciplines will be combined.
Many of the laureates are from the United States, but this is the first year that a significant number of US students will be there. Members of the Swedish royal family are also expected to attend part of this year's meeting.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 17, 2000.