Portugues Retreat 2024

Hong, a visiting researcher from the Suzhou Institute of Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, brought a unique perspective to our annual Portugues Lab retreat in Berchtesgaden, Germany. Her expertise in laser physics enriched our discussions and added a new dimension to our retreat experience. She shared a bit about her experience…

Our recent group retreat was a refreshing blend of advancing scientific talks, physical activity, and culinary delights. Held in the serene setting of a mountain house owned by TUM, the retreat provided the perfect backdrop for deep discussions, exploration, and relaxation.

We were fortunate to discuss our shared passion for neuroscience, which was fostered in a collaborative learning environment. Our engaging talks and discussions, led by experts, covered various topics, from the basics of optical 2-photon microscopes to the newest research on brain neurons. We also had the opportunity to learn from people in other fields, gaining insights into the philosophy of neuroscience, social welfare, and policy. As a visiting researcher, I felt that this retreat helped me feel like part of the group, and I learned a lot about neuroscience from my colleagues’ perspectives, which helped me better understand the connection of my current project to the Portugues lab.

To balance our intellectual pursuits, we embarked on a joyous hike on the nearby mountain, the border between Germany and Austria. This adventure provided a unique opportunity to connect with nature and each other in a different setting. As we climbed the trails, we were greeted by awe-inspiring views of the surrounding landscape, a sight that filled us with wonder and gratitude. Along the way, conversations flowed effortlessly, with some of our most profound ideas and insights emerging in these relaxed moments. I delved into the topic of the heading direction circuit in zebrafish and the evolution of research in this area, which deepened my appreciation for the significance of our group’s work.

During the retreat, we had enriching discussions, while creating a delightful culinary journey. Each meal showcased the diverse culinary skills within our group, as we took turns preparing dishes from various international cuisines. We enjoyed French and Italian dishes like Coq au Vin and Tiramisu, and I was in charge of a Chinese dinner where the whole group helped make dumplings. We also had a Mexican night featuring homemade guacamole and tacos. These meals provided the perfect setting for sharing personal stories and experiences, which strengthened the bonds within our group.

Here is Hong working hard making homemade dumplings for the group.

Our group retreat was a multi-faceted experience that went beyond a break from routine. The inclusion of interdisciplinary discussions, from computational techniques to neurophilosophical perspectives, left me both inspired and ready to tackle my own research with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. The insights gained from the retreat will undoubtedly linger with us, influencing our perspectives and interactions long after we have returned to our daily lives.

Portugues Retreat 2024
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