Attending the Heidelberg Laureate Forum as a Young Researcher
By Deniz Kecik
The 5th Heidelberg Laureate Forum took place only a few weeks ago, of which I feel the dreamy impact every day on my research endeavors as well as on a general perspective. As a female postdoctoral researcher who is working more on the computational physical sciences aspect, I even felt a sort of regret to not have found out about the HLF earlier, since apparently, you may attend once during each career step starting from the Bachelor level. I was very excited since the moment back in April when I was notified about my acceptance to be among the 200 young researcher participants of the 5th HLF and did not hesitate to share my enthusiasm with friends, colleagues and family at the cost of self-repetition.
HLF is a once in a lifetime opportunity broadening one’s scientific and personal horizon immensely, and such a rewarding, prestigious, and valuable experience. You are given plenty of time to personally interact with the ACM Turing, Abel and Fields Medal Laureates and network with fellow bright young researchers in Computer Science & Math. Listening to the stories of the Laureates like Vint Cerf, John Hopcroft, Martin Hellman, Sir Michael Atiyah, Alexei Efros, Jeff Dean, Manuel Blum and many more along their career journeys, hearing about what it took them to reach that point were life lessons that will stay forever with me. I was surprised by the Laureates’ down-to-earth willingness to share their time and valuable knowledge with the Young Researchers (YR). During the lectures, hot-topic sessions, postdoc workshops and poster presentations, all YRs have been immersed in very intriguing topics such as deep learning in neuroscience, the state-of-the-art in quantum computing, future of machine learning, the consciousness of machines, interplanetary internet and so on.
The whole week passed in a great atmosphere thanks to the wonderful organizers of the HLF Foundation, opened by the beautiful music of the saxophone quartet, flavoured by a refreshing boat trip on the Neckar river, and closed by the amazing view from the glorious Heidelberg castle. Plus, social events, excursions and fine dining were the bonuses! Realizing how wonderful it is to be surrounded with such creative, ambitious, talented and diverse minds from over 60 countries, I could not stop thinking about how lucky I was to be there. I was definitely inspired and motivated to contribute to the woman voice in science and technology in the long run, and HLF taught me that there is plenty of room for this where we all have duties to fill the gender gap.
Looking back, I see applying to the HLF as one of the best things I have done for my personal and career development, and I advise next female YR attendees to truly grasp each moment of it as a precious gift. I strongly recommend that you seize the opportunity of investing in yourself with such a special event and increasing the ratio of woman researchers from 35% to at least 50%.
For having a better idea, you may check the youtube channel of the forum: https://www.youtube.com/user/LaureateForum
Biography Deniz Kecik
I am currently a post-doc at Bilkent University, Ankara. I received my PhD degree from EPFL in Switzerland in 2013. My research is focused on computational modelling efforts for investigating the properties of next-generation nano-materials, using quantum-mechanical simulations in high-performance computing facilities.