Texas A&M's Shengda Ding '16 is one of 420 outstanding research students selected worldwide to participate in the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting dedicated to the field of chemistry, currently underway through Friday in Lindau, Germany. (Credit: 67th Lindau Meeting Press Office.)


Summer is the season for travel, and one Texas A&M University student is on the trip of a lifetime this week in the company of some of the world's scientific elites.

Chemistry graduate student Shengda Ding '16 arrived Saturday (June 24) in Lindau, Germany, for the 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting, which runs through Friday (June 30) and is dedicated to chemistry.

Once every year, around 30 Nobel laureates convene in the island city of Lindau to meet the next generation of leading scientists: hundreds of undergraduates, Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers from all over the world. The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings are designed to foster a peaceful exchange between scientists of different generations, cultures and disciplines.

Ding is one of 420 international students selected by the scientific review panel of the Council for the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings to participate in this year's prestigious scholarly gathering featuring 28 Nobel laureates and guests from approximately 80 countries. According to Ding's official invitation, only the most qualified young scientists can be given the opportunity to enrich and share in the unique atmosphere of the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.

While in Lindau, Ding will be have the opportunity to take in Nobel laureate lectures and be exposed to master classes, academic dinners and both roundtable and panel discussions on a variety of topics, from public policy and ethics to the latest in emerging avenues of scientific exploration. The event will conclude Friday with an all-day tour of Mainau Island highlighted by a science picnic hosted by the Ministry of Science, Education and the Arts, State of Baden-Württemberg.

"It is a wonderful opportunity for a young scientist to meet Nobel laureates and have rich discussions all week about all facets of science and its global importance," said Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg, Texas A&M distinguished professor of chemistry.

Since coming to Texas A&M in 2012 in pursuit of his Ph.D. in chemistry, Ding has been a member of not one but two Texas A&M Department of Chemistry research groups: Darensbourg's as well as Dr. Michael B. Hall's.

Within Hall's group, Ding works on developing theoretical and computational techniques to analyze electronic structure problems in complex electrochemical processes that define a deceptively simple reaction: the combination of electrons and protons to make hydrogen. This is the basis of nature's fuel cells -- hydrogen-processing enzymes -- as well as synthetic catalysts that are inspired by the little inorganic centers of the biocatalysts. The key features of the synthetic catalysts prepared in the Darensbourg group are tied together by computational studies in the Hall group.

"Using his computer as his laboratory, Shengda has provided synergy that connects synthesis, structure, spectroscopy and electrochemistry into a hypothesis that guides our understanding about how these molecules make hydrogen, thus advancing the chemistry in this important area," Hall said.

En route to the Lindau meeting, Ding made a stop-over in Mülheim, Germany, where he was hosted by collaborators at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion.

Shortly after World War II, Count Lennart Bernadotte, a member of the Swedish royal family, first conceived the idea of having Nobel laureates meet with young researchers to discuss peaceful uses of science at Lindau, an island near his home on Mainau.

Since 1951, the Lindau Meetings have been jointly organized by the Council and Foundation in cooperation with more than 200 of the most renowned science and research institutions worldwide. In the majority of cases, the young scientists in attendance have to be nominated by these academic partners in order to apply for participation.

Follow the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings on Twitter, Facebook or the official blog.

Learn more about graduate studies in Texas A&M Chemistry at http://www.chem.tamu.edu/graduate/.

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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu, Dr. Marcetta Y. Darensbourg, (979) 845-5417 or marcetta@chem.tamu.edu, or Shengda Ding, (979) 845-5417 or shengda.ding@chem.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Shengda Ding '16

    First #LiNo17 selfies for Ding, pictured in (above) and outside (below) Lindau's city theatre, which is serving as the host venue for the second consecutive year due to ongoing renovation of the local conference hall. (Credit: Shengda Ding.)

  • In March, Ding was recognized with the Marcetta Y. and Donald J. Darensbourg Graduate Student Travel Scholarship in Chemistry (presented by Texas A&M chemist Dr. Christian Hilty) that, in combination with support from the Department of Chemistry, helped to partially fund his trip to Germany.

  • Ding, pictured on the banks of Lake Constance, where the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings have been hosted every year since 1951. (Credit: Shengda Ding.)

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