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“It was an Inspirational Week at the Intersection of Science and Art”

CIBSS PhD candidate Nadine Wössner attended the prestigious Roche Continents programme and tells us about her time.

Only sixty selected students from top European universities are invited to participate in the Roche Continents programme each year. CIBSS PhD candidate Nadine Wössner from Prof. Dr. Susana Minguet's research group was one of this year's participants and travelled to France to explore the intersection of science, art and sustainability. Here she shares her personal experiences of the week-long journey.

After hearing about this unique program from my supervisor, I was intrigued by the concept of bringing scientists and artists together. I applied to the University of Freiburg, which nominated me as one of their two candidates. I then went through a second round of application to the programme itself and was absolutely thrilled to be selected.

Three months later, I arrived in the charming town of Arles in France and found myself amidst 58 participants from all corners of the world studying natural science, engineering, philosophy, computer science, visual arts or music.

Throughout the programme, I had the opportunity to interact with renowned scientists, who were invited to share their expertise with us. My personal highlight was a talk by Prof. Dr. Hans Clevers from the University of Utrecht, who shared with us his groundbreaking work on deriving organoids from adult stem cells and their applications for future research.

At the LUMA Arles art center, we immersed ourselves in multiple exhibitions that beautifully combined creativity and technology. The unique perspectives offered by each exhibit left a lasting impression on my mind. Participating in a hands-on workshop on traditional dyeing techniques using natural dyes allowed us to appreciate the close relationship between nature, science, and art. We discussed the importance of using natural resources and their impact on the environment, emphasising the importance of considering ecological aspects in our own work.

During a visit to the Tour du Valat research institute, dedicated to the conservation of Mediterranean wetlands, we took part in research to measure salinity levels in the area and to observe flamingos in their natural habitat. Talking to the hydrologists and biologists, we learned about the delicate balance of this ecosystem and the ongoing efforts to preserve this important habitat.

For me, this week was an unforgettable journey of discovery and growth. As an immunologist, I got to discuss my research not only with fellow scientists, but also with concert pianists, anthropologists and photographers, each of whom offered unique perspectives. The friendships formed, the knowledge gained and the experiences shared will undoubtedly have a lasting impact on my personal and professional life.