Berkeley Physics Grad Student Attends Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Jessica Avva is a second year graduate student at Berkeley Physics specializing in cosmology instrumentation. She is a researcher in the lab of Professor William Holzapfel, working on characterizing transition edge sensor bolometric detectors for the 3G camera on the South Pole Telescope.

Last summer, Avva was selected as one of 400 young scientists from 80 countries to attend the 66th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting from June 26-July 1 on the island of Lindau, Germany. The annual meeting convenes 30-40 Nobel Laureates to meet the next generation of leading scientists from around the world —students at all levels in their academic careers—to foster an exchange of ideas between its diverse participants.

When asked about her experience in Lindau, Avva said “I usually focus on my research—I’m an instrumentalist in cosmology. This was an opportunity to engage with many people in different fields of physics and rethink ideas at a higher level. I was able to talk with Nobel Laureates—world experts—about their particular research as well as many other physics-related topics.”

Lasting memories that Avva will keep with her from the meeting are of the coffee breaks and after-conference drinks she had with fellow attendees. “That is when personal conversations happened, and when you could synthesize what you heard during the meeting,” she said. “We could creatively bounce ideas off of each other and come up with new ideas. We were all inspired.”

Avva said she was particularly inspired at the meeting by 1997 Nobel Laureate William D. Phillips. “He had a way of making his research very accessible to people outside of his field. He was most willing to talk to young scientists, and was an excellent model of someone that would discuss any branch of physics that you find interesting. He embodied the kind of curiosity that typifies the natural physicist.”

The six days that Avva spent in Lindau, exchanging ideas with Nobel Laureates and other young scientists, will have a lasting effect on her life and career. “I now have people I know all over the world in many institutions—people I can grab coffee with and talk to about their research or mine. Those relationships are invaluable and will have a positive impact on me for many years to come.”

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