2018 Lindau Alumni Maude Giroud and Juhwan Noh were inspired by discussions at the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting to start a project and a survey to gather more information on leadership and management in science. In this guest post, they explain their initiative.

What is the next scientific (r)evolution? What is going to be the breakthrough of the following century? What if the answer was depending of the way that science and scientists are managed and lead?

That has been one of the topics discussed at Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting (LNLM). Because accumulation and sharing of knowledge over time in science ideally leads us to the wisdom and awareness of our humanity and in accordance with the motto “Educate, Inspire, Connect”, the meeting encourages the interaction between young scientists and Nobel Laureates during one week every summer. At the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting in 2018, 39 Nobel Laureates met 600 young scientists. Although it is not the biggest academic conference in the world, nor the only conference with some Nobel Laureates in a specific discipline, young scientists are in more direct contact with a larger number of Nobel Laureates than at any other conference or lecture. This gave us a distinctive viewpoint on a number of issues. 

Juhwan Noh, left, and Maude Giroud, 2nd from right, with other young scientists. Photo courtesy of Juhwan Noh

As several Nobel Laureates have pointed out during the 68th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, new technologies now allow us to make discoveries at an even faster pace. However, the administration of science in Academia is moving slower. We are already in the era of multidisciplinary collaborations and team concepts in science. The “old way” to deal with scientific problems in an isolated environment is not applicable anymore due to the complexity of the problems. We need to find the strategy to re-organize research in academia in order to achieve the goal of better science in both quality and quantity. At Lindau, Nobel laureates and young scientists all came to the discussion with their own experience. It was interesting that, nevertheless, we were facing the same issues and having the same desire and need to change things. 

The Lindau Meeting was extremely favorable not only for exchange, but also to meet key people interested in and focused on leadership and management in science. At the very beginning of the Lindau Meeting, Maude had the opportunity to attend the “Breakfast on the International Day dedicated to China: Developing Stronger Science Leadership in Different Cultures - China, US/Europe and Others as Basis for Innovation”. ”, Matthias Ever gave a talk about how the way to conduct research is changing and that too little time is given for leadership (from self-leadership to research PI leadership) and science management, and that we could produce better science by training the academics in those fields. Later, she could exchange views with Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt on lab organization, team size and authorship management. Juhwan was also interested in the conversation and added his experience. The topic was definitively timely and pressing.

On the initiative of Maude Giroud, Juhwan, Michael Levitt and Matthias Evers started the project “Leadership and management in science: How the next generation of leading scientists feels the present and sees the future”. 

Maude Giroud raises her hand during the Breakfast on the International Day Dedicated to China

Literature on the topic is not extensive but exists. The problem has already been raised in several publications. Still, very little has been written about how young scientists - who are indeed most affected by it - perceive leadership and management. We really think it is something to work on. Because who better knows the needs of young scientists if not the young scientists themselves? With the approval our collaborators, we created a questionnaire aimed at surveying the needs, but also the different styles of leadership and management perceived by the different scientists who have been to a Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. By targeting this “sample” of scientists, we have a diverse population of subjects in terms of backgrounds, locations and careers. We aim to analyse the survey and make it the core of a scientific article. The article will be anchored around the survey with additional discussions on how to find solutions for the issues highlighted by the survey, how to catch the interest of scientists and make them realize that there is a need to improve management and leadership in the labs. Nobel Laureate Michael Levitt, based on his career path as a researcher, PI and member of the National Academy of Sciences, will bring an invaluable contribution to the article. Matthias Evers is our “external” collaborator, bringing with him a fresh and unbiased view of leadership in academia. Matthias Evers collaborates with executives to set innovation strategies and build the functional capabilities necessary to sustain productivity gains in R&D.

Overall, this project has a novel approach and will offer new arguments and solutions to improve scientific work by optimizing working environment of researchers. The diversity of the authors list of the envisioned article will enrich the content and will allow a constructive discussion of the different concepts.


You can support Maude and Juhwan’s project by filling out the survey here.

Maude Giroud is an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellow at Helmholtz Center Munich, Germany. Juhwan Noh is a Fellow at the Department of Preventive Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea.

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