Meeting of the Minds

George Degen
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
George Degen, a PhD student in the Chemical Engineering Department, will have a unique opportunity this summer, attending invitation-only lectures and small seminars with some forty Nobel laureates from around the world. Degen was one of thirty young scientists from University of California campuses selected as UC President’s Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings Fellows and invited to attend the annual event in Lindau, Germany.
“These highly accomplished and diverse fellows to the Lindau meetings serve as UC ambassadors to the global scientific community,” said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D. “They have been given a rare opportunity to directly engage not only with Nobel laureates, but with global peers equally passionate about scientific discovery. I anticipate that we, and the world, will benefit from the connections made and ideas sparked at this gathering of great minds.”
Due to safety precautions associated with the coronavirus pandemic, this summer’s meeting — to be held from June 27 through July 2 — will be a mix of interactive virtual and in-person events. While some 600  students and postdoctoral fellows from around the world usually attend the event, this year only about 120 will be randomly selected to participate in person, while the remainder will do so virtually. 
“I am very excited to be selected to attend this meeting,” said Degen, a sixth-year chemical engineering PhD student. “I am particularly looking forward to meeting the other participants, both the Nobel laureates and the early-career scientists from around the world. Scientific discussions always have the potential to spark future collaborations.”
Degen’s advisors at UCSB include the late Jacob Israelachvili and his current co-advisors, Joan-Emma Shea, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and materials assistant professor Angela Pitenis. The goal of Degen’s research is to understand how marine mussels stick to wet surfaces. Ultimately, he hopes that his findings will help scientists design mussel-inspired adhesives for medical applications such as surgical adhesives and sealants. Previous awards received by Degen include the UC President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship, the Chemical Engineering Department’s Schlinger Fellowship, CSP Technologies Teacher-Scholar Fellowship, and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Upon completion of his doctoral degree, Degen plans to conduct postdoctoral research in the field of soft matter, then launch a career in academia. 
Samuel Teicher, a materials PhD student, and Laura Pritschet, a graduate student of psychological and brain sciences, will also represent UCSB at this year’s Lindau Meeting. The UC Fellows were chosen in a multistep process that required an essay, letters of recommendation, an evaluation of their research accomplishments, and approval by event organizers. 

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