Max Planck Croucher Symposium 2019

29 November 2019

On 19-21 November 201, a group of 34 scientists from Hong Kong, Germany and Okinawa gathered at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) to discuss topics, ranging from Matter to Life.

This was the third residential meeting between German and Hong Kong scientists, and the first with Okinawa scientists, jointly organised by the Max Planck Society and the Croucher Foundation. The organising committee, which consisted of Professor Joachim Spatz of the Max Planck Institute of Medical Research, Professor Eberhard Bodenschatz of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization, Professor Barbara Chan of the University of Hong Kong, and Professor King Chow of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, stressed the focus of the symposium on multidisciplinarity and youthfulness.

Fundamental questions related to “Matter to Life” were discussed through presentations and informal talks on topics, including bioengineering, synthetic cells, living matter physics, quantitative biology, computational biology, terrestrial microbiology, fluid dynamics, cellular biophysics, optogenetics, and nanomaterials. All participants also gave three-minute flash talks on their research areas to identify themes and projects for future collaboration.

Before the symposium concluded, ideas on the collaborative plans and available resources were exchanged among the participants, who expressed their interest and belief in developing collaborative efforts to address multidisciplinary issues that require synergistic expertise.

Speaking after the meeting, Professor Anderson Shum of the University of Hong Kong commented that “besides the scientific programme, participants also had chances to socialise over dinners, a lab tour at OIST, as well as sightseeing at the Ryukyu Mura and Zakimi Castle. With the breathtaking sceneries at the OIST campus and Okinawa as backdrops, the participants not only engaged in stimulating scientific discussions, but also developed valuable friendship.” Professor Dr. Christine Selhuber-Unkel of the University of Kiel, Germany, remarked that she “really enjoyed participating in this very inspiring workshop. The concept bringing together young scientists and established scientists from Germany, Okinawa and Hong Kong led to open and intense discussion.”

Dr Isabella Guido of the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization said “I left Okinawa with a clear idea in mind about interdisciplinary collaborations that can be put forward in my research. I am very interested in the technique used by Professor Amy Chen from OIST, had an intensive discussion with Dr Cheng-Han Yu from the University of Hong Kong and it was also very fruitful for discussing with colleagues working in Germany. Dr Kerstin Göpfrich from the Max Planck Institute of Medical Research and I discussed possible projects that can benefit from our expertise which are interesting for both. I enjoyed the symposium and the scientific energy that accompanied us in the week and I wish to have the opportunity again to participate in such inspiring events.”

The third Max Planck Croucher Symposium was jointly sponsored by the Max Planck Society and the Croucher Foundation.