Wolfgang Hillen Summer School 2019

Prof. Dr. Dieter Braun

Center for NanoScience (CeNS)

and Fakultät für Physik,
LMU München,
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
D-80539 München, Germany

phone: +49 89 2180 2317
e-mail: Dieter.Braun@physik.uni-muenchen.de

Prof. Dr. Omar Saleh

International Center for Materials Research

Materials Department,
UC Santa Barbara,
Santa Barbara, CA 93106, U.S.A.

phone: +1 805 893 2449/ 8814
e-mail: saleh@engr.ucsb.edu

Machine learning for molecular design and evolution

Part 1: May 28 – June 14, 2019 – Santa Barbara
Part 2: September 9 – 27, 2019 – Munich

The Wolfgang Hillen summer school “Machine learning for molecular design and evolution” is a two-part summer program of the Center for NanoScience (CeNS) Munich and the UC Santa Barbara. The first part will take place in Santa Barbara, the second part in Munich. Nanoscience with a focus on molecular design will be taught by an innovative, peer-to-peer training approach and by taking advantage of local expertise and facilities. The scientific aim of this program is to transfer complementary sets of knowledge and skills between PhD students of the participating research groups and to spark new research directions. Leading experts in a wide range of fields will give insights in their latest research on molecular design and evolution and will provide, together with their students, individual lab projects for the visiting scholars.

The challenging scientific program will be realized by an unusual teaching concept: First, a group of ten selected PhD students from CeNS will visit CNSI in spring 2019 where they will be hosted individually by the Californian students. A corresponding student group from CNSI will then visit CeNS in fall 2019, with switched hosting roles. Each visit will include two weeks of lab rotations and one week of lectures, organised as a thematically focused symposium with invited speakers. During the lab courses, each participating graduate student will present his experimental set-up and own favorite experiment in a two-day course to the visitors. Each student will follow about five different lab courses, thereby guaranteeing the active trading of skills. The students can choose which set-up they would like to know about, such that the final schedule for the students will be tailor-made and teaching can be performed on a very individual basis with small groups of 2-4 students.

An additional focus of the program will lie on machine learning and will be covered in a special workshop with experts in Santa Barbara.


Final report

The Wolfgang Hillen summer schoolMachine learning for molecular design and evolution” was a two-part summer program of the Center for NanoScience (CeNS) Munich and the UC Santa Barbara.

The first part took place in Santa Barbara from May 30 to June 14, 2019. PhD students from LMU Munich, TU Munich, the University of Augsburg, and the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry enjoyed a challenging scientific program and the hospitality of their Californian hosts. One central part of the stay in Santa Barbara was dedicated to laboratory work. The visiting PhD students could choose between various modules that were organized and taught by the UCSB students, such as surface tension of DNA liquids, a machine learning approach to track single cells in complex 3D samples, high-throughput quantification of ribozyme activities, or single-molecule dynamic relaxation in disordered systems. The tutorials were focused on hands-on work so that the guest students could fabricate and measure their own samples, extend their technical skills and get to know laboratory routines. This way the students gained insight to a variety of methods that are applied in different areas of nanobioscience.

As a core element of the summer school, all participants attended a three-day workshop for Machine Learning. This workshop provided the basis for group projects dedicated to develop machine learning solutions for their own research tasks with support from the workshop instructors over the time course of the stay. The participants presented their results in a final meeting on the last day of the program. Back in Munich, several participants have started to incorporate their new knowledge on machine learning in their own PhD projects.

Besides sharing the common interest for science, the students connected very well on the personal level and spent their leisure time together engaging in activities such as a wine tasting trip to Santa Ynez valley, hiking in the beautiful Los Padres National Forest, a game night, and a beach barbecue.

During the second part of the Wolfgang Hillen Summer School (September 9 – 27, 2019) the UCSB graduate students visited CeNS in Munich. After a Bavarian welcome breakfast on their first day, followed by a COMSOL workshop, the participants started with the lab rotations: small groups of two to three PhD students performed hands-on experiments in the labs on topics such as biomicrofluidics, single-molecule microscopy, thermogravitational trapping, DNA Origami, Bio-Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and much more at LMU, TUM, and the MPI of Biochemistry. In addition, an excursion to the physics department at the University of Augsburg and participation in a two-day retreat on Origin of Life research complemented the program. The last week consisted of another highlight: All PhD students took part in the CeNS workshop “Evolving Nanosciences” at Venice International University on the beautiful island of San Servolo. About 100 participants gathered to listen to 25 top-notch speakers representing the whole diversity of nanoscience research. The PhD students presented their projects in two poster sessions. In addition, there was room for discussions with speakers and other participants in a charming Mediterranean atmosphere.

Besides the scientific program, the Californian participants also enjoyed a barbecue with CeNS PhD students and PIs, the vivid atmosphere of the Oktoberfest, a hiking trip in the Alps, and a farewell dinner in a Venetian restaurant.

Strong ties between German and Californian students were established not only by these educational and social activities but also by the unusual housing concepts, since private accommodation for all guests was provided by the host students. The 2019 Wolfgang Hillen Summer School was a true scientific as well as social success for all participants and will certainly contribute to deepen existing collaborations and to establish new co-operations between CeNS Munich and UC Santa Barbara.n.