Study tour in Chicago

One of the goals of the Network of Youth Excellence is to promote student exchanges and ensure research collaborations for young scientists from foreign countries. Within the frame of that activity three Hungarian students from the Hungarian Research Student Association (namely Diana Papp, Attila Lengyel and Katalin Sulyok) could spend 2 weeks in Chicago. Our kind host was Peggy Connolly the former president of the Network of Youth Excellence.

After a 9 hours long flight, we arrived at the O’Hare ariport, Chicago. As a local specialty we ordered a limousin –which was surprisingly cheaper than a cab- to give us a lift to Peggy’s home. The following two weeks were full of exciting experience both in scientific and in cultural sense. We have never been to the USA so the American daily routin was also a unique experience for us. One of our first program was to visit the Morton Arboretum, where Michel Stiebert showed us in details their outstandig collection of the institute’s library. They have grafics and paintings about the North American flora till the 17th century. It was worth elaborating on it from a scientific and an artistic point of view as well. The arboretum has a professional scientific background, it has an instructive function meanwhile it provides entertainment for various age groups. Here our leader was Kathy Ewald, she led us into the laboratories where we could visit the current projects and discuss with the researchers. On another day we had a field trip in the Morton Arboretum, where we could visit the restaurated prairie which is the natural vegatation in the central part of North America. The human expansion ruins this flora dramatically but fortunately the Americans realized that they can loose their loved prairie without active conservation. So they started to set up various programs with civil activity to replant the original species in the area. I think we should hold up this enthusiastic program as a model for every other country. We learnt about an other effective conservational initiative form Edith Makra, who deals with urban forestry in Chicago.

Later we visited the Northwestern University where we met with many experts in the Medical School. The researchers involved us in their current work for example the showed identification methods of cancer cells.

The third main venue of our scientific program was the Chicago Botanic Garden. The head of the Institute, Christopher Dunn summerized their current research projects then we got insight into each topic under the giudence of the experts. That way we heard new results regarding the hybridization of a special plant race, the external effects which influence the germination, and last but not least the genetical and geographical separation of two North American species. As a closing act we had a long and beautiful walk in the Arboretum’s Japanese Garden.

Naturally after the scientific consultations we had also time to entertainment and visit cultural, architectural spectales in Chicago. We enjoyed the Pre-Boadway premier of the Pirate Queen musical in the Cadillac Palace Theatre. We went to the Field Museum to meet with Jonathan Haas, who invited us behind the curtain of an exhibition which was not open for the visitors yet. We could see how they prepare the extremely lifelike replicas of the objects for an exhibition and he led us into the special etnographic storage room where all the collected materials are stored while not beeing displayed in exhibitons.

We watched an excellent performace of a Mexican folk dance group, then one evening we spend an unforgettable evening in the Lookingglass Theatre in Chicago where we enjoyed the Argonautica production which related a story from the Greek mythology.

We gained unique and unforgettable experiences in our 14 days in the United States. We are most thankful to Dr. Peggy Connolly who hosted us and organize numeous events, programs and meetings for making even more exciting our stay. The scientific knowledge we got about methods, projects and possibilities would influence our work in the future. Last but not least I would like to thank the financial support for the Hungarian Research Student Foundation for cover my travel costs.

Attila Lengyel.- Katalin Sulyok

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