The challenge of advancing science

The most lasting biggest impact scientists make is likely not our own work but rather through the people we educate.

Education in the physical and life sciences is comprised from the text book knowledge that we transmit in the class room but also the practical skills that are taught. A huge part of becoming a scientist is the training conveyed during work on an original research problem as part of a doctoral thesis. Here, sound fundamental theoretical understanding, practical experimental skills are needed in addition to creativity, persistance and the ability to get over many difficulties and set-backs. Educators have to convey the wonder and joy of discovery to the younger generation.

To make a discovery or create a new substance never made before can give immense joy.
The challenge of educating young scientists is to make them aware of their talent and creativity by providing new perspectives. Even experienced researchers need to break through specialist-isolation and to learn - besides excellent scientific methodology - to engage in intense teamwork, reliable project management, proactive social interactions and to take responsibility. Just another scientific publication is simply not enough to make a difference. Instead, the discipline of "seeing" and then acting in a self-motivated and dialogue-oriented manner to challenge boundaries.

I teaching bioorganic chemistry as a Professor of Chemistry at the Free University of Berlin and the University Potsdam and train doctoral and postdoctoral scientists in the Department of Biomolecular Systems at the Max-Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam.

The chance to work with bright young scientists is not just a challenge on a daily basis for both sides, but it keeps me honest and opens the chance for me to “learning by teaching” as not just the student but also the teacher profits.

Former coworkers now in academia:


Former coworkers now in academia: