Enthusiastic Nobel Prize winner visited Umeå University on Lucia Day

[2017-12-19] One of this year's Nobel Prize winners in Chemistry, Jacques Dubochet, arrived by train (for environmental reasons!) in Umeå on Lucia morning to visit Umeå University. In addition to holding a lecture on his revolutionary research, he met with the media, research colleagues and answered questions from interested students.

Jacques Dubochet - in the middle - together with scientists at Umeå Core Facility for Electron Microscopy, UCEM.

It was a committed, vital and open-hearted 75-year-old who spent a day in Umeå after the recent Nobel celebrations in Stockholm.
"As a researcher, it’s important not only to engage in research but also in society," says Jacques Dubochet, who is also involved in local politics back home.

Microscopy at atomic level

He received the award for the development of cryoelectron microscopy. With the help of the method you can now produce images of the molecules of life on an atomic level. Jacques Dubochet's visit is linked to Umeå Core Facility for Electron Microscopy, UCEM, which is home to one of the country's two centres for cryoelectron microscopy. The other one is located at Stockholm University. The director of the Umeå Centre, Linda Sandblad, hosted the Nobel visit.
Jacques Dubochet grew up in the French speaking part of Switzerland. He was the first in his canton to be diagnosed with dyslexia. His grades in school were bad and only got worse. A strong driving force for understanding things, however, led to a turning point in his teens and studies began to improve. He eventually applied for university, became a physicist and then entered a research path in biophysics. A lifelong journey, now rewarded with a Nobel Prize.

Packed programme

Jacques Dubochet interviewed by Swedish Radio and the local newspaper Västerbottens-Kuriren.

A busy day started at ten o'clock with a press conference at UCEM's premises at the Chemical Biological Centre.
“I love science, and today I want to learn more about the research conducted here," Jacques Dubochet told reporters. “I also hope to see the northern lights tonight.”
Subsequently, Jacques Dubochet got the chance to talk with a group of researchers before he got a much needed break to enjoy the Lucia celebration and songs performed by Umeå Student Choir in Aula Nordica.

The chemist gave a passionate lecture in a nearly full auditorium.

After lunch, he held a lecture in an almost full Aula Nordica with the title: “The science that gave me a Nobel prize and the science that didn’t”. After the lecture, students from the upper-secondary school Natural Science Programmes in Umeå and Skellefteå were invited to take a group picture with the Nobel Prize winner, followed by ‘fika’ and questions. The curious students wanted to know more about his upbringing, how a normal day at work looks like and how the Nobel Prize Dinner went.

Youth are our future

Jacques Dubochet talked warmly to the adolescents with some good advice on the way:
“Strive not only for high grades and for being the best in your class, but try to find what you’re really interested in and go for it. And to find your talent is not easy, so give it some time.”

Jacques Dubochet together with students from Midgårdsskolan, Dragonskolan and Minervaskolan in Umeå and Balderskolan in Skellefteå.


Editor: Ingrid Söderbergh. Translation: Jessica Bergström Grahn/Anna Lawrence

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