Alumni and Students Reflect on The Nobel Conference

Posted on October 6th, 2014 by

Nobel 50 Square LogoThe Nobel Conference gives Gustavus Adolphus College students unique access to some of the most renowned scientists in the world. While all Gustavus students have the luxury of attending the Conference during their four years, a select handful of students get the opportunity to serve as student hosts for one of the speakers while they are on campus. We recently asked several current students and alumni their impressions of The Nobel Conference and how it has impacted their lives. Here are their responses:

Leah Rodmyre '14

Leah Rodmyre ’14

“The Nobel Conference is an important time of year for students, faculty, and the entire Gustavus community. It proposes questions about our universe that address science and society in ways that multiple disciplines can appreciate. As a student, this is the ultimate liberal arts experience! We are lucky enough to have the opportunity to bask in the knowledge of some of the greatest researchers of our time. In 2011, I hosted Aniruddh Patel at Nobel 47, The Brain and Being Human. He spoke about how the brain processes music and language and how these interactions affect the brain. As a psychological science major and music minor, it was such an honor to host such an esteemed guest of the college, especially one that was so educated in my two fields of study. Being a student host allowed me to make my own contributions to the Nobel Conference and truly feel connected to one of the most notable yearly events on campus.”
-Leah Rodmyre ’14

Jean-Paul Noel

Jean-Paul Noel ‘12

“The great thing about the Nobel Conference, is that it really is one of the very few avenues where scientists and lay people can talk to one another. I believe this is incredibly valuable for both the lay-person (as they get to hear from experts), but also for the scientist (as the lay person does not share the mountains and mountains of assumptions that build up over the course of your scientific training). For me in particular, the Nobel Conference was a great way of getting to know big names in your field of study. It is a good way for students to develop skills that will be useful in future encounters outside of Gustavus in either the academic or professional world.”
-Jean-Paul Noel ’12

Maja Johnson ‘13

Maja Johnson ‘13

“Nobel is one of my favorite events at Gustavus. I found it so motivating to see a community come together to celebrate knowledge and its pursuit. As a science major, I spent so much time learning formulas, processes, and mechanisms and it was very gratifying to see my studies come to life and captivate me in a new and exciting way. I also loved that although we learned about a discipline in itself we also were engaged to think deeper and examine why these topics are important and how they may affect us as a society. Nobel continually reminded me of how far we have come in scientific advancement, but more importantly what is left to be explored and the questions that still remain. These possibilities affirmed why I chose to pursue a degree and career in science. I had the opportunity to be a host my junior year for the conference titled “The Brain and Being Human”. This was my favorite conference in my four years at Gustavus because of the variety of expertise that was invited and the intersections that were made in the disciplines of biology, philosophy, and ethics. It was wonderful to hear all the speakers during their presentations but even more impactful to discuss research through one-on-one conversation. I was able to learn about these individuals own journeys into their respective fields and why they were so passionate about their work.  It was also an honor to represent Gustavus and share the history of a place that means so much me and many others.”
-Maja Johnson ’13

Helen Wauck ‘14

Helen Wauck ‘14

“I was a student host at the Fall 2013 Nobel Conference, The Universe at its Limits. This was one of the coolest opportunities I had in college; I wasn’t a Physics major, and yet I got to meet a bunch of famous, very talented physicists and get to know them as people. I also thought it was a great chance to meet other students and professors from physics, with whom I ordinarily have limited contact even though they work in the same building as me. This particular Nobel Conference was my favorite thus far because despite the seeming inaccessibility of the topics being discussed (the shape of the universe, how the universe began, etc), the invited speakers did a fantastic job of making everything they talked about accessible to a lay audience. In fact, it was the most accessible conference I’ve been to. Not only was it accessible, but they got the audience excited about what they were talking about and delved into the philosophical aspects of their work quite a bit, especially at the Q and A sessions. It was fascinating to see these brilliant people having heated debates about philosophy and religion in the context of a physics conference, and it was a really great example of how different fields of study intersect with each other and are hard to separate. It brought home the importance of interdisciplinary work that Gustavus, as a liberal arts institution, always tries to emphasize, and for that alone I think it was an incredibly valuable experience.”
-Helen Wauck ’14

Jenna Chapman '12

Jenna Chapman ’12

“The Nobel Conference my senior year was about Neuroscience, and having the opportunity to interact with academic professionals in my field of study was not only fascinating on a personal interest level, but was extremely informative about the current state of academia and the requirements and challenges I would potentially face in graduate school. Participating in the Conference as a student host certainly had an impact on my decision to go to grad school, and to pursue a Master’s degree before going into further study.”
-Jenna Chapman ’12


Emilie Benson '16

Emilie Benson ’16

The Nobel Conference is a great way to learn more about the emerging science all around us. Science is always evolving and we are always finding more valuable information to help us expand our viewpoint as well as connect all of the different aspects together. The Nobel Conference, specifically being a student host, has allowed me to become more involved and interested in the science community that I am a small part of. It has increased my enthusiasm for new research and expanded my knowledge of what is possible. The conference makes the cutting edge science accessible to all audiences and I was grateful to find out how easy it was to interact with the speakers.
-Emilie Benson ’16


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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