For the second year in a row, West Virginia University is sending a student to The Nobel Laureate Meeting in Lindau, Germany.

Eli Rodgers-Melnick, a third-year doctoral student in biology, will be attending the meeting at the end of June. Rodgers-Melnick studies the evolution of duplicated genes, particularly how they diversify within the context of biological networks.

This is important for understanding how organisms develop new, specialized functions. One major project of his research group is finding genotypes associated with enhanced biofuel production.

The Nobel Laureate Meeting was started 61 years ago, following World War II. Scientists in Germany were feeling excluded from international research, so they started a fellowship program to interact with and connect young scientists from around the world with multiple Nobel Laureates. This opportunity allows bright, young scientists the chance to engage, and share ideas with Nobel Laureates.

Rodgers-Melnick said he had to go through three steps to achieve this opportunity. First, he was nominated by WVU. Next, he was nominated by the Department of Energy, which received over 500 applications. Finally, the International Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureates Meeting selected him to attend the meeting. He will be one of 80 young researchers from the United States to attend this year.

The meeting will consist of lectures from Nobel Laureates and small group discussions with the laureates and other young researchers about science and recent research.

“This experience has been very humbling. I wasn’t expecting it at all. It is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity, because you can only attend the meeting once, unless you win the Nobel Prize,” Rodgers-Melnick said.

“It will be an unparalleled opportunity to work with these scientific leaders,” he added.

Stephen DiFazio, Rodgers-Melnick’s advisor and associate professor of biology at WVU, said Rodgers-Melnick will make connections at this meeting that are virtually unprecedented for WVU students, and even for most of the faculty.

“He is a highly collaborative student, constantly engaging in peer tutoring and peer learning ventures, both within and beyond the confines of my lab group,” DiFazio said. He added that Rodgers-Melnick will have no problem teaching, communicating and explaining all of the knowledge he learns while at Lindau.

Last year, Jerry Carr Jr. attended the Nobel Laureate Meeting. Carr, a doctoral candidate in physics at WVU, was one of 75 graduate students from U.S. institutions selected to attend the 60th annual Lindau Meeting of Nobel Laureates in Germany.


jh 3/1/11

CONTACT: Rebecca Herod, Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
304-293-7405, ext. 5251,