Successful first edition of the NanoFront Winter Retreat


Two buses, filled with almost 150 nanoscientists from the Leiden Institute of Physics and the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience in Delft, left for the French Alps on Monday March 16th. After a long day on the road, we arrived at the conference hotel in Courchevel.

The next morning, professor Cees Dekker, chair of the NanoFront Steering Committee, opened the first edition of the NanoFront Winter Retreat by giving an overview of the developments within the program since its start in 2013. This was the official start of four days filled with nanoscience, sun, and skiing. Each morning after breakfast, we started with an interesting keynote lecture, followed by two plenary lectures by faculty members, and several focus sessions by Delft and Leiden postdocs and PhD students. After lunch time, all participants were free to discover the snow on the Courchevel surrounding slopes. In the late afternoons, everyone returned to the conference center for more lectures on bionanoscience and quantum nanoscience, and for example for the discussion sessions on research ethics and the ethics of creating an artificial cell. For a full overview of our program, please download the program booklet in the below.

In an informal setting, all participants could meet their fellow NanoFront PhD students, postdocs and staff members from Leiden and Delft during the poster sessions and, for instance, during the Q&A session after dinner. Learning more about each other’s research eventually led to four interesting new research proposals of PhD students and postdocs who did not work together before. These ideas were presented on Thursday evening, after which a jury consisting of Tjerk Oosterkamp (Leiden), Milan Allan (Leiden), Martin Depken (BN/Delft), and Anton Akhmerov (QN/Delft) decided to award the NanoFront Winter Retreat collaboration prize to Marek Noga (research technician at the Delft/BN Greg Bokinsky lab) and Wim Pomp (PhD student at the group of Thomas Schmidt in Leiden) for their proposal "Division of synthetic cells triggered by phase separation in lipid bilayers". In the jury’s view, their proposal showed a challenging goal of major importance, combining two very different methods to create a route for its realization. In addition to the money prize of the € 300.- that was awarded to Marek and Wim, the Nanofront Steering Committee decided to allow Marek’s and Wim’s supervisors to submit this idea as an additional synergy proposal for the Nanofront PhD call 2015. 

On Friday the 20th, after dinner, we returned home with the feeling that we can look back at a week full of scientific highly interesting talks, and many moments of new interactions, which will certainly lead to new collaborations within the NanoFront program in the near future!

Visit this page for more photos and videos of the NanoFront Winter Retreat.