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Budding Researchers in the Laboratory

Nachwuchsforscher im Labor

June 8, 2017

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a modern molecular biology method that allows DNA sequences to be replicated as required. It is used, among other things, for medical diagnostics and in the field of forensics. 20 schoolchildren recently spent a week acquiring DNA analysis skills at Jacobs University with the help of PCR. They were participants in the MINT-EC national excellence network for schools specializing in the teaching of upper secondary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM; in German: MINT).

“The MINT-EC camp was a new, but highly positive experience for us. The pupils were not only highly motivated – they were also very focused and successful in the experimental work,” says Dr. Susanne Illenberger, who looked after the pupils, who had traveled from all over Germany and even from Turkey, together with her coworker Dr. Sonja Diercks-Horn. “We were able to use PCR to identify a resistance gene introduced to soybeans by means of genetic manipulation and we were also able to explain the principle of the genetic fingerprint based on the pupils’ analysis of their own DNA.”

The research camp participants were given a taste not only of laboratory work, lectures, and seminars, but also of student life. As is customary at Jacobs University, the pupils lived on campus. The aim of the MINT-EC network is to get schoolchildren interested in studying science. The 18-year-old participant Jonas Blendl of the International School of Bremen proved to be impressed by this kind of camp: “I already took part in a number of MINT-EC events and they showed me that I want to study something science-based like biology when I leave school. I therefore want to gain practical experience in molecular biology, to help me choose my field of study.”

There is especially high demand for knowledge of the scientific disciplines in the working world, but too few young women in particular are choosing these subjects. There are 267 schools throughout Germany within the network, and 25 research camps are run every year. “We hope we were able to get the pupils excited not only about DNA analysis, but also about Jacobs University,” says Dr. Susanne Illenberger.


Questions will be answered by:
Dr. Susanne Illenberger | Lecturer Biochemistry and Cell Biology
s.illenberger [at] | Tel: +49 421 200-3206

About Jacobs University:
Jacobs University is a private, independent, English-language university in Bremen. Young people from all over the world study here in preparatory, Bachelor, Master, and PhD programs. Internationality and transdisciplinarity are special features of Jacobs University: research and teaching don’t just pursue a single approach, they address issues from the perspectives of multiple disciplines. This principle makes Jacobs graduates highly sought-after new talents who successfully strike out on international career paths.

Thomas Joppig | Brand Management, Marketing & Communications t.joppig [at] | Tel.: +49 421 200-4504

About MINT-EC – the national excellence school network:
MINT-EC is the national excellence network of schools with Secondary Level II and a marked profile in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It was founded by employers in the year 2000 and works closely with regional educational initiatives. MINT-EC offers a broad selection of events and promotional opportunities for students as well as continued education and technical exchange programs for teachers and school administrators. The network with a current 267 certified schools, 289,500 students, and 22,700 teachers carries out its activities under the auspices of the Culture Minister Conference (KMK) of the states. The main sponsors of MINT-EC are the German metalworker employers association Arbeitgeberverband Gesamtmetall under the think ING initiative along with the Bavarian employer associations vbm bayme / vbw.