“School Students Uni” in Argentina
Science goes international: two researchers from the Cells-in-Motion Cluster of Excellence (CiM) at the University of Münster travelled to Argentina at the end of October to share their knowledge with schoolchildren and students there. Following on from an international conference, Dr. Cristian Strassert, a pharmacist and photochemist, and Dr. Andreas Faust, a chemist, held a five-day workshop at the University of Buenos Aires in which they took a detailed look at the application of radiation in all wavelengths. Another highlight of the trip undertaken by the pair of researchers was that they visited two German schools in order to give senior students insight into the work they do. “Our aim was to get young people interested in science and technology and perhaps motivate them to study in Germany later,” says Andreas Faust. Around 40 senior students from each of two German schools in Buenos Aires, all focusing on natural sciences, took part in the “School Students’ Uni”.
How can processes inside the body be visualized? How do scientists, physicians and mathematicians collaborate on a variety of imaging technologies which can be used to examine and treat patients? In interactive workshops, the German researchers explained to the school students for example the role played by chemistry in the use of imaging methods. Chemists such as Andreas Faust develop so-called tracers, i.e. chemically generated substances that can trace for example certain molecules in the body which may occur only in disease. The tracers stick to these molecules and emit signals which can then be visualized in images.
For CiM researcher Cristian Strassert, the visit was like going back to his roots. As a youngster he himself attended the Ballester German school in Buenos Aires and subsequently studied at the university there. “It was a great experience to return to these places and to see how thirsty for knowledge the undergraduates, PhD students and school students are,” he says. Some of the school students who took part in the event are already focusing on science at their schools. For the most part they are Spanish speakers, but are taught bilingually.
International exchange at the university
Just a few kilometres away, at the University of Buenos Aires, Cristian Strassert and Andreas Faust held a workshop, together with physicist Prof. Hernan Grecco, on the use of electromagnetic radiation in imaging. The workshop was entitled “Retooling Light”. Over five days the students of chemistry, biology and pharmacy learned about how light can be used in imaging processes – from photophysical theory to practical applications in medicine. By giving their own presentations on current literature, the students had an opportunity to explore the topics in depth and to discuss with the visiting scientists examples from research currently being undertaken in Münster. “We wanted to show the students how important it is to look beyond the confines of their own discipline and to collaborate with each other,” says Andreas Faust. In addition, the researchers discussed with the students the differences between studying in both countries. “That was very intensive and extremely inspiring,” says Cristian Strassert. He hopes to be able to entice one or two talented students to come to Germany later to pursue their careers.