The University and the lab is slowing down for the summer and I am wrapping up my work; I gave a summary seminar on Tuesday. Even with the inevitable delays finding materials and equipment, thanks to the occasional Care package from the University of Kentucky we managed to accomplish most of what we had set out to do. We screened a lot of compounds that had already been designed for other purposes, and found that some have promise for aiding in early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases down the road. In the spirit of ongoing research, we got some good leads about ways we can modify existing compounds to make them even more useful. In addition to discovering new things, we built the foundation for continued collaboration. There will be several joint publications as proof of academic accomplishment, but most importantly we established an expanded personal and scientific relationship for the future.
So, what are my highlights for our five months in Sweden. In the spirit of the Fulbright program I had the opportunity to experience first-hand international cooperation in science through the large-scale projects sponsored by the European Union. I attended a consortium meeting in Tübingen, Germany where I was able to establish personal relationships with a number of prominent European research leaders in my field, expanding my professional network and source of potential collaborators.
On the personal side, for the first time I met my second cousin on my mother’s side and his family, attended two Swedish professional league ice hockey games (both wins for the local Linköping team), and played in an LIU chemistry department hockey game. With the Fulbrighters I spent a day at Uppsala University touring their museums and library collections. Back in the ‘70’s I was a runner-up (not enough of a farmer) as an undergraduate exchange student to the Uppsala Royal Agriculture College from the Agriculture College at Cornell University. Melissa and I spent four days in Stockholm for a Fulbright graduation ceremony at the US Ambassador’s residence, toured the restored pride of the Swedish navy Vasa that sank in 1628 in Stockholm harbor on its maiden voyage, watched the changing of the guard at the royal palace Old Town, and visited a number of other Stockholm historical sites. At the Nobel museum we were happy to see one of the postdocs I had trained with in North Carolina featured as one of their recent laureates in chemistry.
Not to forget beautiful, if not always sunny, Linköping, with its well-kept bike trails, recycling, and general environmental awareness programs, convenient bus and train systems, a downtown as well as a countryside minutes away by bicycle, its own medieval castle and kyrk, and waffles by the riverside in the springtime with our Fulbright mentor. We prefer Linköping to Stockholm’s bustle and crowds.
We were fortunate in being able to rent the house (and Wizard the family cat) of an LIU faculty member on sabbatical. Our Swedish neighbors welcomed us into their homes, were patient with our English and painful Swedish, and helped us navigate the Swedish system, even if we didn’t have a personnummer. The Swedes have been described as insular, cool to strangers and standoffish – not in our experience. One could not wish for a more open-arms acceptance.