A West Virginia University graduate student in chemistry will be rubbing elbows with the world’s most renowned scientists when he travels to Lindau, Germany, for the 55th meeting of Nobel laureates and students.
Matthew Mortensen is among more than 700 students from around the world participating in the gathering June 26 through July 1. Activities include both formal lectures by Nobel Prize-winning scientists and informal talks between laureates and students.
“I was really excited when I found out I was accepted,”said Mortensen, 25, of Shakopee , Minn.”I’m really looking forward to talking to all of the scientists that will be there, not just the chemistry Nobel Prize winners.”
He said he also looks forward to meeting other students to exchange ideas about the most important scientific fields and the instruction, practice and support of science in various countries.
Since 1951, Nobel laureates in chemistry, physics and physiology/medicine have annually convened in Lindau to have open and informal meetings with students and young researchers from around the world.
Mortensen, son of Gary and Karen Mortensen, is one of 25 participants chosen by the National Science Foundation and 61 students representing the United States . The U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge Associated Universities are sponsoring the other American participants.
Mortensen is studying synthetic organic chemistry under George O’Doherty, an assistant professor of chemistry in WVU ’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. The team of researchers working with O’Doherty focuses on creating new carbon-based chemicals for use in developing drugs.
“Most of what we try to make is antibiotics,”he said.
O’Doherty recommended Mortensen for the Lindau conference.
“He’s a great student, a real intellectual leader and a hard worker,”O’Doherty said.”This meeting is a great opportunity for him.”
Mortensen first studied with O’Doherty when he was an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota . O’Doherty came to WVU in 2002, and Mortensen followed his mentor south to Morgantown after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in chemistry.
He said he has no regrets.
“I like the lab space and working environment at WVU , and the professors are all very friendly,”he said.
Mortensen said he would eventually like to work as an organic chemist in the pharmaceutical industry. He has a couple of years left to complete his graduate degree, then will likely pursue postdoctoral work to continue training in his field.
In the meantime, he plans to make the most of his time with the Nobel laureates.
Besides the lectures and informal discussions, the trip’s agenda includes tours of Lindaua medieval island city situated on the border of Austria , Germany and Switzerlandand closing ceremonies at a baroque castle belonging to the descendants of Count Lennart Bernadotte, who began the Lindau meetings.
Mortensen also plans to mix business with pleasure when he and his wife, Erin Mead, cap off the trip with a delayed honeymoon.
The couple, who married May 20, will meet in Munich after the conference is over and spend eight days in Munich and the Bavarian Alps .
This is the second straight year that WVU has sent a graduate student to the Lindau gathering. Chris Compton from the Department of Physics attended in 2004.