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 The association of Austrian Scientists and Scholars in North America (ASciNA) is hosting a conference in Vienna, Austria this year.


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In 2001, the the Office of Science & Technology set out to establish a network of Austrian researchers and scholars in North America. Based on this initiative, ASciNA, an independent association with local chapters all over the U.S. and Canada and one chapter in Austria, was founded during a 2002 conference in Washington, which was hosted, funded, and organized by the OST.

 bridges spoke with Dr. Guenter Lepperdinger, a scientist returned to Austria from the United States. Besides his current work at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute for Biomedical Aging Research in Innsbruck, he is the Vice President of ASciNA and a member of the ASciNA 2005 conference committee. [picture: Guenter Lepperdinger]




Dr. Lepperdinger, what was the reason for ASciNA to organize this conference in Vienna?


Guenter Lepperdinger:


Two years ago, at the annual "Alpbacher Technologiegespräche," we [ASciNA] together with officials from Austrian Ministries and the OST came up with the idea to organize a conference in Austria. We felt that it was time to provide the possibility for networking in order to develop personal connections between Austrian scientists abroad and the R&D field at home.


Austria serves for most ASciNA members as a "home base" which is left by them in order to promote their research, even though many plan to return after a certain time abroad. ASciNA 2005 will offer those scientists an opportunity to meet potential partners and mentors relevant for their future work. Furthermore, it will allow them to collect during the three days as much information as possible, and then return to the U.S. and spread the word among their Austrian colleagues within the various ASciNA chapters.


During the three days of the conference, what kind of different events will be offered to the participants?

Guenter Lepperdinger:
Günter Riegler, who is currently the NASA Director of Astrobiology and Space Research at the NASA Ames Research Center in California's Silicon Valley, will open the ASciNA conference with a plenary lecture [see program for details]. During the conference, several young Austrian scholarship holders who are currently working in the U.S. will talk about their research, the role of networking, and other conference-related issues.

The conference will close with a plenary lecture held by Michael Hehenberger, Vice President of IBM and a subsequent discussion with representatives from the Federation of Austrian Industry. The main topic will be how to relate university and industrial research to create excellence.

What is the target group of your conference and what goals do you want to reach through the conference?

Dr. Lepperdinger:
The main focus of the conference will be on young fellows, whom we want to offer a platform for the presentation of their recent findings and the future perspectives of their work. We are expecting 30-40 young Austrian scientists coming from the United States to the conference, and we expect approximately 100 additional participants from universities in Austria.

We are cooperating with the Austrian Rectors Conference to advertise the ASciNA conference among scientists at Austrian Universities, too, especially among junior faculty who might consider going abroad in the near future to promote their academic careers and to brush up on their scientific education.

The third target group is science policy makers and federal employees who have their fingertips in academic affairs and R&D. Apparently, we want to bring together representatives from those groups in order to review concepts for the promotion of science and applied research in Austria.

As an independent association, how does ASciNA finance the conference, a not-for-profit event?

Guenter Lepperdinger:
The expenses for the conference amount to approximately € 80.000. We are generously supported by the Austrian Science Fund and Austrian Federal Ministries: the Federal Ministry for Economics and Labour, the Federal Ministry for Education, Science and Culture, and the Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, the latter supporting the ASciNA conference strongly. Thanks to that generous support, we can provide travel grants for conference participants. Furthermore, there will be no registration fee for all participants, so everyone who is interested is invited to attend the conference.

What are your personal hopes and expectations for the conference?

Guenter Lepperdinger:
Our goal is to establish further contacts and to refresh the ones already existing. For the future, ASciNA wants to support Austrian researchers abroad not only with current information and useful contacts but also, as an example, to provide travel grants on a regular basis for scientists in North America.

We are most confident that we will organize the kind of conference that we are holding this year in Vienna next year at an appealing location within the U.S.. The best case scenario would be to establish an annual ASciNA conference that would be held every other year in the U.S. and in Austria..




For further information about the ASciNA conference in Vienna and for application information, please visit www.ascina.at or contact the conference committee directly by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..{/access}