Something New Comes Out Every Conference

In two weeks’ time the International CiM Symposium will be bringing together scientists from a variety of disciplines. The organizers – Prof. Erez Raz, Prof. Christian Klämbt and Prof. Ralf Adams – are looking forward to an exciting symposium with new ideas which they can take back to their work.

Prof. Raz, Prof. Klämbt, Prof. Adams: What would science be without scientific symposia?

Adams: Science thrives on exchanges, so every symposium represents an enormous enrichment. You learn about new questions, new topics, and you look beyond the boundaries of your own specialist area. That’s incredibly stimulating for your own field of science.

Raz: Every research institute has its own culture, philosophy and way of working and thinking. Without these exchanges at conferences, scientific work would be less creative and much more narrow-minded. Exchange of ideas during a meeting increases their impact and make them be utilized in contexts not thought of originally.

What makes a good symposium?

Raz: A good symposium is often a result of talks bringing together various disciplines providing a novel angle for studying certain scientific questions.

Adams: What’s also important is the time between or after the talks, when you have an opportunity to exchange views with the speakers and other visitors, discuss different ideas and approaches with them and move your thinking a bit further down the road. Such an atmosphere can only develop, though, if the organisation is good and everything runs smoothly. Experience shows that the most suitable venues are those at which participants are a bit cut off from the outside world. Islands or monasteries are surprisingly good places for symposia.

Klämbt: A good symposium mustn’t be too big, either. If there are 1,000 – or as many as 10,000 – scientists at a conference you don’t usually get an intensive exchange. The best thing is when about 200 researchers come together.

No doubt after such an intensive exchange you take something back with you to your lab. How important are symposia for your own research?

Raz: Most conferences have a practical outcome. It might be a cooperation, a short or intensive collaboration, exchange of ideas about what directions to proceed in, what methods to use, etc.

Adams: After really good symposia I come back with a list of ideas that I then discuss with my research group. Sometimes I also think strategically and wonder whether it might make sense to get into a certain field of research and start a new project which goes beyond the questions we’re currently researching into. Sometimes, though, you come back from a symposium which you think wasn’t worth the time you spent there.

The CiM Symposium brings together junior and senior scientists from a variety of disciplines focusing on cell migration. What are you looking forward to most?

Klämbt: The fact that, as it’s taking place here in Münster, a lot of the people in my research group can take part.

Raz: I also think that the fact the meeting takes place in Münster is a big advantage. Our scientists attend conferences regularly and afterwards report about the fascinating talks, discussions and technologies they were exposed to. But of course in doing so they summarize a three-day conference in just an hour and a half. As many of the people in my group will be attending the CiM Symposium, afterwards all of us will be able to talk about all the ideas discussed and presented there.

Adams: A good think is that the programme is very varied. I attend a lot of conferences which are tailored specifically to my field of research. At the CiM Symposium I will certainly hear a lot of things that don’t relate directly to my research, but which will still be relevant.