News overview

02.2014

Newsletter PS-Park 'n' Science, 11th edition, Dec 2013

English text version of the Park'n'Science newsletter

Table of Contents
Editorial
Papaya seeds for clean water
The secret of Red Snow
Tolerant Tuberl
Trend-setting Bio-minerals
Honoured
Built
Exhibited
Founded
Park ‘n’ Life
Bookmarked

Editorial

Water - omnipresent but very special nevertheless

Ladders to success

Water - omnipresent but very special neverthelessAccess to water has been a fundamental prerequisite for every human settlement. Depending on the region in which they lived, various cultures have developed their own unique water management systems. They always had to be inventive; for example they built shelters out of ice and gradually learned to deal with floods and droughts. This learning process is by no means at an end. In this issue of Park 'n' Science we look at special solutions pertaining to the subject of "water"; in its most basic form as drinking water and the driving force behind plant growth, as a solvent for cellular processes, or frozen in the form of snow.

Despite the fact that water covers 72 percent of the Earth's surface, it is by no means the case that the availability of clean drinking water can be taken for granted everywhere in the world. The solution proposed in this issue is impressive because it was initially geared completely towards low-cost and regionally available resources and has shown great potential in the course of further research.

Across much of Europe, melting snow and seasonal precipitation saturate the earth with moisture well into the spring, creating a gigantic reservoir of water. But the situation is completely different even in Germany's Brandenburg "sandpit", to say nothing of Africa. A lack of water during the early growth phase often results in lower annual harvests. One example of how plants can adapt to the lack of water comes from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology.

Christmas and New Year - for many people in these latitudes a thick layer and endless unspoilt fields of snow, all gleaming in pristine white, are an essential part of it. How about a bit of colour for a change: red or green? A publicity stunt that will take some getting used to? Not at all. Nature is playing a major prank on our habits of thought. In this issue of Park 'n' Science you will discover what is behind this phenomenon.

I would like to wish you a pleasant combination of contemplation and festive joy for the coming holidays, and a healthy and successful New Year.

Have an enjoyable read!
Yours faithfully, Barbara Buller

Papaya seeds for clean water

Funding for up-to-date technical solutions for the provision of clean drinking water is often lacking in developing countries. Researchers at the University of Potsdam have developed an economic, locally available material for use in water treatment in these regions.

Around 900 million people around the world have no access to clean drinking water. Every year more children die as a direct result of this, and the illnesses it leads to, than of malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS combined. And the fact that industrialised nations continue to export their electronic scrap to developing countries for processing with no constraints is set to further exacerbate the drinking water problem. In addition, minerals such as gold and columbite–tantalite (coltan), which are essential for technological products, are mined in Africa with damaging consequences for the environment. The effluents generated through mining and the activities of the electronics industry pollute both rivers and lakes with heavy metals such as nickel, cadmium and lead.

Papaya seeds for clean water
(Photo: Thomas Roese)

Andreas Taubert, Professor of Supra-Molecular Chemistry and Inorganic Hybrid Materials at the University of Potsdam, in collaboration with the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, led a team that tackled this issue. They manufactured a new, cost-effective, easy to produce, so-called composite material for purifying drinking water and were able to demonstrate that it is not only significantly cheaper, but also that it is easier to produce than, and is just as effective as, more expensive commercial water purification methods. However the project was initiated in Nigeria rather than in Potsdam.

As a Humboldt-Foundation scholarship holder, Dr. Emmanuel I. Unuabonah spent a total of one year in Potsdam to collaborate with chemists from the university on a material, which he had already developed in his own laboratory in Africa, but was unable to analyse there due to a lack of infrastructure. What he ultimately wanted to know was whether the material he had developed really is capable of removing heavy metals from water sources. Andreas Taubert quotes the following experience to describe the practical relevance and importance of the water purification issue: "When Emmanuel first arrived here he asked whether our tap water was drinkable. That is by no means taken for granted where he lives back in Nigeria."

The new material has a high affinity for nickel and cadmium, two heavy metals that are injurious to health, which are found in high concentrations in rivers polluted by industrial effluents. The technology makes use of seeds of a widely distributed tropical agricultural crop, which is cultivated in Australia, India, Central and South America as well as in Africa. The new absorptive material consists of a combination of papaya seeds, a waste product, and a clay mineral: both are available in large quantities and are extremely cost-effective. As Andreas Taubert explains, "following an appropriate thermal treatment process these components provide a material that is capable of reducing nickel and cadmium concentrations to levels below the thresholds set by the World Health Organisation (WHO)." The ease of manufacture, the practically infinite availability of the raw materials, and the fact that the material can be recycled, makes it attractive for use in simple, quick and local water purification processes.

Andreas Taubert is convinced that "similar materials should, in principle, be capable of clearing up contaminants of the type currently found in southern Brandenburg." For example one could envisage using waste products from the carpentry industry, such as saw mill waste or biological waste, which are readily available in Brandenburg, instead of papaya seeds. Indeed contacts have already been established with representatives of the food industry, medical practitioners, physicists and water purification companies, both at home and abroad.
Dr. Barbara Eckardt

The secret of Red Snow

The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT has launched its eleventh expedition to Spitsbergen, Norway. The researchers were particularly interested in snow algae, the cold adapted extremophiles of the polar regions.

A team of five experts, including biologists, biophysicists and geochemists, set off on a four-week expedition to Spitsbergen on July 31, 2013. The objective was a full circumnavigation of Spitsbergen, the main island in the Svalbard archipelago on board the S/Y Arctica II, with the aim to obtain an as complete insight as possible into the distribution of snow algae fields along the island's coastal regions. This year state-of-the art air documentation technology was used. Already previously studied and also new snow algae fields were mapped by air with an octocopter flight system using visible and infra-red-cameras.

As during previous expeditions the researchers wanted to collect and isolate new algae strains. Another objective of this year's expedition was to gain a deeper understanding of the dispersal strategies of snow algae throughout the islands. It is still not clear which environmental conditions are necessary for the formation of green or red snow on the otherwise barren snow and glacial fields. Once they have established themselves at a particular location these algae persist to it throughout years. The results of previous expeditions show that nutrient influences from bird colonies or surrounding vegetation can be excluded as the main determining factors. One objective this time was to use a special helicopter-mounted camera system to investigate the topography and hydrology of the snow algae fields over a wide area.

"Red and Green Snow" at the Makarovbreen on the north coast of Spitsbergen.
"Red and Green Snow" at the Makarovbreen on the north coast of Spitsbergen. (Photo: Fraunhofer IBMT)

Spitsbergen offers ideal opportunities for investigating the influence of geology on ¬plant communities. The island is home to an extremely diverse set of geological regions within a closely circumscribed area. The landscape and mountains are characterised by a variety of rock types from different epochs, often folded to the vertical. Large fields of red-coloured snow algal cysts covering vast areas can be observed mainly on gneiss, shale (both reacting acidic), as well as sandstone and granite (neutral). Air currents from the regions western of Spitsbergen provide sufficient moisture, and the winds distribute the snow algae to the east across the archipelago. On the north-west coast of Nordaustlandet, in contrast, no snow algae could be found on the carbonate bearing rocks (chemically with basic reactions).

The results of the expedition provide important new knowledge to the puzzling phenomenon of Red Snow, which will contribute towards a better understanding of this unique group of organisms. Only with this deeper understanding of their biology, the scientific and also commercial potential of these extremophiles can be utilised more effectively, whether in the form of novel enzymes that are active at cold temperatures or in the form of various metabolites (secondary pigments, unsaturated fatty acids, ice-structuring proteins, or biopolymers). The climatic and chemo-environmental factors reveal important details about the fundamental demands, which are necessary for a successful laboratory and industrial mass culture of snow algae in photobioreactor facilities. Once again it has been shown that these single cell microalgae propagate excellently at low temperatures, but that they also can cope well with strong fluctuations in salt content and light intensity. This makes them particularly suitable as productions strains in large-scale microalgal production plants in Germany's emerging algal industry to bridge the temporal production gap during the annual cold seasons between late autumn and early spring with low temperatures and little light.

A range of different algae are cultivated on a large scale in photobioreactors at the Fraunhofer IBMT in Potsdam. The IBMT's annual ¬production capacity of 100 kg of algal fresh mass roughly corresponds to the natural algal biomass growing on the ¬snow field of the Makarovbreen in north-western Spitsbergen. The research strategy appplied at the IBMT, to cover all relevant scientific disciplines from field research across ecology and taxonomy to laboratory work with the aim of an industrial algal mass production for the food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry apparently has a ¬promising future. For more than 15 years the Group Extremophile Research & Biobank CCCryo at the Fraunhofer IBMT has been interested in the so-called cryophilic snow algae. With the "Culture Collection of Cryophilic Algae – CCCryo" (www.cccryo.fraunhofer.de), which was founded in 1999, this novel and unique bioresource of extremophilic algae has been made available to the research community at public and industrial institutions since 2010. To date it accommodates nearly 400 algal strains from around 125 species. The target is to develop different algae-based industrial products as a result of the deep study of the biology of these extremophilic microalgae within the framework of ongoing biotechnological research at Fraunhofer IBMT.
Dr. Thomas Leya

Tolerant Tuber

More than 7500 plant samples have already been collected in the course of the TROST project, in which Karin Köhl of the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology is researching ways of improving the drought tolerance of starch potatoes.

A white mist wafts across the field. With busy steps and full of concentration the researchers work their way forward, plant by plant. Hands in blue nylon gloves cut off a leaf and drop it into liquid nitrogen. The little plastic container with the snap frozen leaf is quickly screwed shut. Then it's onward to the next plant and the next. Two hours later the peculiar show is over. Karin Köhl is looking satisfied: the harvest has been good.

Together with her team, the scientist from the Max-Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology has taken 304 leaf samples from the potato plants today. What Karin Köhl of the Max-Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology wants to discover with the aid of these leaves and tubers is how one can adapt the Central European potato to changing climatic conditions and increase its drought tolerance.

Above all it is the dry months of spring in this part of the world that field crops are finding increasingly difficult to cope with. "Precipitation in Brandenburg during summer is only half of what it used to be," explains Köhl, "and our sandy soils hardly retain any water." The growers would really like to be able to supply farmers with new varieties, which would still produce a lot of starch-rich potatoes even after long periods of drought. However until now they haven't really known whether or not that would even be possible.

"In the course of our TROST project," says Köhl with reference to her preliminary successes, "we have demonstrated that the potato varieties grown in Central Europe still have the ability to tolerate drought." So the genes are still there; now they need to be combined in the right way. However traditional breeding techniques take a long time. It can take from ten to fifteen years to create new varieties with improved characteristics through cross breeding and selection. It is this process that TROST is designed to accelerate.

In order to do this Karin Köhl, in conjunction with three infrastructure groups from the MPI and three other research institutes, is searching for molecular markers, i.e., gene transcripts, proteins, sugars or other metabolic by-products, which are always present if the plant is drought tolerant. Until now molecular markers have mainly been used for medical diagnostic purposes, but markers are also interesting in relation to plant breeding.

TROST: First the leaf samples are harvested in the field (left); then the metabolites are measured in the laboratory (centre), and finally the data is evaluated (right). (Photo: MPI-MP)
TROST: First the leaf samples are harvested in the field (left); then the metabolites are measured in the laboratory (centre), and finally the data is evaluated (right). (Photo: MPI-MP)

But identifying marker molecules has been no easy task, as they were only required to indicate a tolerance to drought and not be influenced by other environmental factors. That is why it was out of the question to carry out the testing in Golm alone. Instead 34 different varieties of potato were planted in fields at eleven different locations throughout Germany, whereby two issues had to be tackled immediately. The first related to logistics, i.e., the transportation of liquid nitrogen, dry ice and harvest helpers to the various fields spread between Rostock and Munich. The second concerns the evaluation of the data, which could only be managed with a good IT infrastructure and documentation standards.

"Now," says Köhl with reference to the next steps, "we want to demonstrate that selection based on molecular markers is quicker and delivers better results than traditional selection methods. The nice thing about this job is the collaboration with the many different partners. In this endeavour one can achieve nothing alone, but a lot by working together.”
Claudia Steinert

Trend-setting Bio-minerals

Long before man discovered the compass other creatures already made use of a magnetic navigation help. Migrating birds orientate themselves on the Earth's magnetic field, but so do certain single-celled organisms, the so-called magnetotactic bacteria.

When magnetotactic bacteria follow their inner compass they are not searching for the correct route between north and south, but rather they are looking for a way towards the bottom of lakes, rivers or oceans, because a few millimetres below the interface between water and sediment is where the micro-organisms find the ideal oxygen depleted conditions for their needs. They find their way by following the lines of the Earth's magnetic field, which, far away from the equator, do not run parallel to the Earth's surface, but rather point downwards. To do this, the bacteria orientate themselves to the magnetic field with the aid of magnetosomes, nanoparticles of magnetite enclosed within a membrane, which arrange themselves into chain-like structures along their cellular axes.

Now two international teams, which included scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, have looked more closely at how these particles are formed. Magnetite is an iron oxide Fe3O4, which comprises two differently oxidised iron variants (Fe2+ and Fe3+). Magnetotactic bacteria build these crystals with a high level of precision: always with the same shape and size. "If we can understand the fundamental principles involved in the formation pathway, then it is likely that this will open up new approaches and methods for the technical manufacture of nanoparticles of magnetite in the future," says Damien Faivre, who is in charge of the Molecular Biomimetic and Magnets Biomineralisation Working Group at the Max Planck Institute in Potsdam. "If materials scientists were able to control the characteristics of synthetic magnetite particles just as well as the bacteria, then one could think of new uses for them, for example, in the contrast agents used in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)."

A bacterium creates its own compass needle: within just ten minutes of coming into contact with an iron-rich nutrient solution, the magnetite particles are already clearly visible as dark grey structures in a transmission electron microscopy image of the single celled organism (left).
A bacterium creates its own compass needle: within just ten minutes of coming into contact with an iron-rich nutrient solution, the magnetite particles are already clearly visible as dark grey structures in a transmission electron microscopy image of the single celled organism (left).

Using X-ray absorption spectroscopy at extremely low temperatures in addition to transmission electron microscopy (TEM) the scientists have now succeeded in characterising the biomineralisation process involved in the formation of magnetite within these bacteria. This shows that these single celled life forms first produce a completely disordered iron hydroxide. This substance is similar to iron accumulating protein complexes, which occur in animals, plants and bacteria. Finally the magnetite particles for the magnetosomes are synthesised via nanoparticles of iron oxyhydroxide.

"The synthetic creation of magnetite proceeds in a very similar manner, and mineralisation functions in a similar way in higher organisms," says Jens Baumgartner, one of the participating scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces. It is probable that pigeons also utilise the same mechanism to form magnetite, in order to store it in their beaks for use as a navigation aid.

But not only are the bacteria able to control the shape and size of the magnetite particles, they can also regulate their chemical composition. They create the precise chemical conditions in which the two iron ions, Fe2+ and Fe3+, , form in the precise ratio found in magnetite. "Until now, it was not known whether the bacteria start with iron-II or iron-III in order to synthesise magnetite," explains Damien Faivre. "Our study has now clarified this point." The answer also fits with what one might expect based on the ecological niche inhabited by the bacteria. Within the oxygen starved environment in which the microbes thrive, iron is generally available in the less strongly oxidised form, i.e. as iron-II.
Katja Schulze, Peter Hergersberg

Honoured

"Translational Research Award in Cornea and Ocular Surface Science" for Dr. Joachim Storsberg

Dr. Joachim Storsberg of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research received the "Translational Research Award in Cornea and Ocular Surface Science" in Nice, France.

Dr. Joachim Storsberg
Dr. Joachim Storsberg (Photo: Fraunhofer IAP)

The European Association for Vision and Eye Research (EVER) bestowed this award in recognition of the Fraunhofer researcher's developmental work in the field of artificial corneas. The ArtCornea®Implant, developed by Dr. Joachim Storsberg in close collaboration with the Aachen Centre for Technology Transfer ACTO e. V., could well save the sight of many patients in future, who have been dependent on donor corneas up until now. The prize was awarded for the first time ever this year. The focus is on the transfer of basic research into clinical applications. The ArtCornea® Implant has already undergone successful testing in the laboratory and in animal tests; it readily grafts to the natural cornea and is suitable as a simple transplant alternative for patients, who would be expected tolerate a donor cornea well, but who are unable to obtain one in the short term due to a lack of available donors. It is easy to implant and does not trigger any critical immune reactions.

Honorary Doctorate for Prof. Stefan Jähnichen

At this year's annual Faculty Day on November 06, 2013, the University of Potsdam's Faculty of Mathematics and Science bestowed the title of Honorary Doctor on computer scientist Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Jähnichen.

Prof. Stefan Jähnichen
Prof. Stefan Jähnichen (Photo: private)

Dr. Jähnichen received the honour in recognition of his scientific work in the fields of software and system development as well as for his outstanding contribution to the development of the field of computer science and its application in the economy and society. After graduating in the field of electronics and completing his doctorate at the Technical University of Berlin he worked in Karlsruhe for several years as the Head of the GMD Research Group (Mathematics and Data Processing Society) and Professor of Computer Science at the University of Karlsruhe. In 1991 he became the chair holder of Software Engineering at the Technical University of Berlin. In this context he was Chief Scientific Officer until 2012 and later head of the Fraunhofer Research Institute FIRST. In addition he was active in a number of functions including Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Hasso-Plattner Institute and, from 2008 to 2011, as President of the German Computer Science Society. He is currently Chairman of the European Research Council's (ERC) Computer Science Evaluation Committee, the most prestigious basic research funding institution in Europe.


Prof. Peter Fratzl, a new member of acatech

Prof. Peter Fratzl
Prof. Peter Fratzl (Photo: MPIKG/Gnaudschun)

Prof. Peter Fratzl, a new member of acatech, the general assembly of the German Academy of Science and Engineering (acatech) has elected Prof. Dr. Dr.h.c. Peter Fratzl as a new member. Peter Fratzl is Director of the Biomaterials Department at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces. The certificate of appointment will be presented to him during the commemorative event of Acatech in Berlin, November 2014."

 

 

 



Built

2500 square meters for research

Long awaited: the extension at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Golm is making visible progress.

The Department for "Bio-Molecular Systems" was established in 2009 following the appointment of Professor Peter H. Seeberger, one of the world's most pre-eminent researchers in the field of glycobiology. Because the number of staff has been growing steadily over the past few years it wasn't long before the institute came up against the limits in terms of space and equipment.

The extension at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Golm
The extension at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Golm

The interim solution of accommodating the new department at the Free University of Berlin has increasingly proved to be a bottleneck due to the lack of space and outdated laboratory. The planned completion date for the extension was originally intended to be the end of 2012. However financial and administrative problems led to constant delays in planning and the start of construction. Following the approval of the planning application by the City of Potsdam and with the agreement of the Joint Science Conference, construction finally got underway in July 2013.

It is envisaged that the new building, which will cost an estimated 19 million Euros, will be ready for occupation in March 2015. Spread over an area of around 2500 square meters, it will accommodate a suite of highly equipped research laboratories, computer system rooms, special laboratories for large scientific appliances and new offices. At the same time the structure will blend harmoniously with the west wing of the institute and will be docked to the existing buildings via a connecting corridor. Professor Seeberger's team are looking forward to the institute's spatial integration.
Andreas Stockhaus


Exhibited

Science exhibition "Research Window" starts March 2014 at the Education Forum

The university and non-university institutes within the Potsdam-Golm Science Park will be participating in the exhibition with contributions to various topics.

Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics – Gravitational waves: Albert Einstein predicted their existence but believed it would be impossible to prove it experimentally. How could they be discovered?
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology – How do plants work?
By means of photosynthesis plants produce all substances they require for their development and growth and distribute them to where they are needed. But how do these complicated processes function and how are they coordinated?
Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces – Hexactinellid sponge Euplectella: A complex architecture renders its glass-like skeleton almost unbreakable. It is considered to be a natural prototype for new materials and innovative architecture.
Fraunhofer IAP – Artificial Cornea: Over 7000 affected patients could have their sight restored with artificial corneas (see this issue, p.5).
Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering – With the aid of a lab-on-chip system, a cartridge about the size of a credit card, it is possible to identify a large number of diagnostic parameters of a patient within just 15 minutes.

Potsdam University


Astrophysics – cosmic matter cycle: Many of the chemical elements that we are familiar with were created over many generations of stars – through fusion processes within the stars and through explosive processes such as supernovae.
Institute for Earth and Environmental Science – Geo-monitoring: Measurement data from a plethora of research satellites provide detailed insights into Earth system changes.
Centre of Excellence for Cognitive Sciences – eye movement control: Cognitive scientists at the University of Potsdam are carrying out research into the eye movements of children, adults and senior citizens when reading texts. They are able to determine the exact moment when the brain comprehends a word within the context of the sentence.

Multitouch terminal
Multitouch terminal (Photo: Thomas Rose, AVZ, Uni Potsdam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Regional research diversity at a glance with the "Get in Touch" multi-touch terminal

When the Science Days event opens at the new Education Forum in Potsdam in early 2014, visitors will be able to use a multi-touch terminal to get an overview of the diverse research projects being carried out in Potsdam and throughout the state of Brandenburg.

Before the terminal is permanently installed in the immediate vicinity of the proWissen (pro-Knowledge) Association's planned "Research Window" science exhibition, it will form part of a road show that will take place in many of the various scientific and public facilities in Potsdam.

Pearls appear from the background, turn into bubbles, and waft across the gigantic screens. A different logo can be seen inside each bubble. As soon as one touches a bubble it bursts and a window appears in which information about a given research institute is presented. "It's fascinating how real these bubbles feel even though you're actually only touching the surface of a screen," says Anselm Geiger from the pearls – Potsdam Research Network, who is coordinating the project. It took the team, led by Dr. Lutz Henrich, Director of the Audiovisual Centre (AVZ) at the University of Potsdam, several months of work to implement the multi-touch terminal. The project, which is sponsored by the European Union and supported by the City of Potsdam and the SAP Innovation Centre, involves around 100 science establishments from the state of Brandenburg. The various institutes, universities and technical colleges introduce themselves with informative texts and images and invite visitors to explore the regional research landscape. A map, also hidden in a bubble, points the way. For example, the user gets an overview of the University of Potsdam's various site locations, is able to orient him- or herself on top of the Telegrafenberg in the Science Park, and, using the zoom function, can move just as swiftly to the Institute of Freshwater Fishery at Sacrower See (Lake Sacrow), which is located some way off.

The scientific establishments are extremely interested in this opportunity to present themselves: "A single terminal is already not enough to enable us to respond to all requests by the institutes," Dr. Lutz Henrich explains; "That's why we are already in the planning stage for a mobile version, which can also be used at trade shows and events just for presentations."
anselm.geiger@pearlsofscience.de


Founded

Processing pilot plant for biopolymers

A new research group at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research (IAP) is looking into the use ofbiopolymers and biobased plastics in Brandenburg's plastic processing industry.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Peter Fink, Director of the Fraunhofer IAP, regards the new "Processing pilot plant for biopolymers” in Schwarzheide as an important step towards the application-oriented testing of biopolymers and biobased plastics. The thorough trialling of new products is particularly important for small to medium-sized enterprises. Fink sees the project group, which is located in the Lausitz, Germany , to be a nucleation point for the Innovation Center Bioplastics Lausitz, an initiative of the Brandenburg Berlin KuVBB Plastics Association, the Fraunhofer IAP and BASF Schwarzheide GmbH. In the medium-term the project group will be associated with a professorship for plastic technologies at the Brandenburg University of Technology (BTU). The project group is currently headed up by Dr. Mathias Hahn, who also chairs the IAP research division "Synthesis and Polymer Technology" in Potsdam-Golm.

The project group is funded by the Brandenburg State Ministry for Science, Research and Culture (MWFK), BASF Schwarzheide GmbH, and the Fraunhofer Group. It collaborates within the Bio-Plastics Competence Network, which is supported by the Technical Agency for Renewable Raw Materials (FNR) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture.


Park ‘n’ Life

High-tech meets transfer

Over 250 visitors from companies, technical colleges and the extra-university institutes attended the "Potsdam-Golm High-Tech Transfer Day" in September 2013, as well as the subsequent "Berlin-Brandenburg Technology Transfer Day".

The event was about meeting with collaboration and network partners, acquiring new clients, and getting to know Potsdam-Golm as a high-tech location. Together, representatives of the states of Berlin and Brandenburg organised this day at the Potsdam-Golm Science Park, and shone the spotlight on this excellent location, its future, and specific competencies: medical engineering, bio-technology, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, optics/photonics, sensor technology, materials sciences, and polymer engineering.

Pitch Forum 3-D-Labor
Pitch forum 3-D laboratory (Photo: S. Richter/ZAB)

The pitch forums were a special highlight of the day, at which researchers and entrepreneurs introduced collaboration initiatives, based on a combination of diverse subject areas, in short presentations. But participants were also inspired by the guided tours and workshops.

The event brought the participants a long way towards their ultimate objective of making regional research and its results available for use by local enterprises, and transferring them into innovative, marketable products. Over and above this, another objective was to motivate young researchers to collaborate with industry or to establish their own businesses.

Wintertime is fitness time

beFit and goFit are heading for a record number of visitors.

Dr Nishant Malik
(Photo: Hochschulsport)

The goFit fitness club at the University of Potsdam's sports centre will be celebrating its third anniversary on January 31, 2014, which will be far more successful than any of its earlier anniversaries. Even now it is already clear that the visitor numbers for the two fitness clubs, beFit and goFit, only know one direction - upwards. Particularly in the colder months, the two clubs, with their favourable locations in Golm and the Potsdam town centre, provide the students and staff of Potsdam's universities, as well as the employees of all collaborating facilities, with a real alternative to the outdoor sports that are popular in summer.

Around 600 users are expected in January in both clubs. This demonstrates how attractive the holistic concept and the balanced cost-benefit ratio are. The well-trained personnel adhere strictly to a health-oriented approach so that sportsmen and women of all ages feel comfortable in the clubs. In terms of selecting training equipment, the focus is on high quality and the ability to implement the health-oriented approach. A plethora of innovative training methods, such as the "Galileo" or a new type of strap system prevent boredom from arising at all during training.

Notwithstanding the ongoing expansion of the equipment pool and the many free additional extras, it has not proved necessary to increase the student-friendly fees a single time since 2006.

Any student or staff member of the Potsdam university community, who has not yet trained at one of the clubs, is welcome to form their own impression: every new starter is offered a trial training session with one of the trainers at no cost whatsoever. There is also a unique offer available to new members to celebrate the New Year. With the special ticket all those who use the training facilities during December and January will only be charged for a single month, which represents a 50 percent discount off the regular fee.

So all you need to do now is to overcome your inner sluggard and get moving!

Who’s the scientist – picture the scientist for yourself

Students at the Voltaire Comprehensive School sketch and describe how they imagine scientists to be, both before and after a visit to the Potsdam-Golm Science Park.

Professor Frieder W. Scheller

What sort of people are scientists? Do they have special abilities? Do researchers look perfectly normal? What does a scientist's daily work schedule look like? What personality traits does one need to become a researcher? These are the questions students in year six and seven at the Voltaire Comprehensive School looked into in the course of a collaborative event.

Inspired by the Fermilab Education Office's "Who’s the Scientist" project (http://ed.fnal.gov/projects/scientists/) the students paid a visit to the Potsdam-Golm Science Park. In the course of individual tours, experiments and discussions the 12- and 13-year-olds were able to familiarise themselves with the day-to-day work of a researcher and get to know the person him- or herself. The way in which their concept of a scientist was modified through the visit can be seen in a direct comparison between the drawings and descriptions they produced before and after the visit.

An exciting project that was fun for the students as well as for the scientists.
The entire exhibition will be on display at the next open day in September 2014.
Anja Lauterbach

The recently opened local supply centre has met one of the urgent requirements set out in the location strategy.

On the 14th of November this year it finally happened.

F. Winskowski, managing director of the Science Park, offers his congratulations to Sven Pilarske, the head of the market"
F.Winskowski, managing director of the Science Park, offers his congratulations to Sven Pilarske, the head of the market. (Photo: M. Höfgen)

Notwithstanding a few surprises during the construction period, e.g. the discontinuation of the planned Schlecker branch office, the new REWE market opened its doors to customers, an occasion that was marked with a small ceremony. Representatives of the Municipal Advisory Council and the City Council offered their congratulations upon the opening, for the residents of Golm have long wished and pushed for local shopping facilities. The goods on offer also take account of the students in the neighbouring halls of residence and researchers on their way to and from work. In addition to fresh produce one can also find the necessary ingredients for quick snacks. Not only will the new shopping centre create 23 new jobs, but the adjacent café, with its integrated bakery, will provide opportunities for socialising.

A tune up for the brain

Last year the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology (MPI-MP) has launched a new video series called "pimp your brain" (pimp=smarten up, is a play on the abbreviation of the institutes name).

F.Winskowski, managing director of the Science Park, offers his congratulations to Sven Pilarske, the head of the market"
Creenshot “Pimp your brain”

This series is addressed to students, teachers and all those who are interested in plant research. In the short films, which usually last 2 to 5 minutes, scientists from the institute explain their research, the techniques they use, why plants are so important for us and what kind of special and interesting skills plants have. By the end of 2013, six short films in English and German had been released. For 2014 we decided to increase the frequency of posting to one film per month. It is certainly worth taking a look either at the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology website (www.mpimp-golm.mpg.de/102240/Pimp-your-brain) or at the Max Planck Societies YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/user/MaxPlanckSociety).


Bookmarked

6. Fraunhofer IAP Biopolymer Colloquium

January 23, 2014, 10.00 – 15.00 ICC Berlin

Renowned experts from industry and science discuss current trends and developments in the field of bio-polymers.

Inorganic Experimental Chemistry

Christmas Lecture

December 18, 16:00, Golm, Building 27, Room 1.01
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Holdt

Inaugural Lecture

22.01.2014, Building 25, Lecture Theatre F.1.01, 17.30

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Herzschuh, Institute for Geo and Environmental Sciences/AWI:
“Vegetation and Climate Change in Asia since the End of the Last Ice Age”

Green Week in Berlin with nature.tec Trade Exhibition

January 17-26, 2014, Berlin

nature.tec – a trade show for bio-energy and renewables – will be held in Berlin during the Green Week. The Fraunhofer IAP will have a presence at the shared Fraunhofer Association stand. www.naturetec-igw.de

Official Opening of the Third-Party Funding Centre at the University Campus

January 27, 2014, 16.00

The official opening of the third-party funding centre will be attended by Ministers Kunst and Christoffers.

Christmas and New Year in Golm Church

24.12.2013, 16.00

Mass with Christmas story for old and young

24.12.2013, 18.00

Christmas Eve vespers

31.12.2013, 16.00

End of year mass