Kaminabend – Meet the Professionals

“Networking is THE key tool for your future career” was one of the eye catcher sentences in the advertising mail for an event called ‘Kaminabend – Meet the Professionals’. Beside the attached guest list with the participating companies from industry, it was this sentence, which caught my attention and convinced me to participate in this event.

The main idea of this event is to offer PhD students the opportunity to get into contact with professionals from industry in a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. At the beginning of the event, which took place in the really nice restaurant ‘Strätlingshof’ in Bochum, there was a short introduction of each company representative, which I really liked because it gave the event a good basis. For me, the last part of the short introduction round, which was about the “personal or scientific motto”, was the most interesting one, since some of them really inspired me. As a consequence, I rather decided spontaneously to whom I want to talk.

According to the phrase ‘business before pleasure’, not only the professionals had to do a task. Each PhD student was asked to state in which sector he or she wants to work in the future. For me, the result was impressive, because the vast majority favors a job in academia and research over management or consulting.


Science Zone

In my PhD project, I use time-domain Terahertz spectroscopy in combination with fast temperature jumps to probe the solvation dynamics during the (un)folding of  the small protein Ubiquitin.
Terahertz spectroscopy is a powerful tool to study solvation dynamics around molecules like salts, proteins and sugars. With frequencies ranging from 0.1 THz to 10 THz, intermolecular and collective motions in the water network can be investigated.
The main aim of my study is to investigate and understand the influence of Ubiquitin on the dynamics of the surrounding water  molecules during the structural rearrangement of the protein.


After everyone’s work was done, the time was right for dinner. The idea was that six to eight PhD students join one professional for one course of the buffet. After finishing the first course, the PhD students were supposed to change tables and join another professional they wanted to talk to. I had the impression that at the beginning of the first course everybody was a little bit uncertain about what to expect from the evening and therefore hesitated to ask questions. But as the dinner proceeded, the atmosphere got more and more comfortable with many fruitful and interesting discussions and a delicious buffet.

I talked to three representatives and really enjoyed all of the discussions. It was interesting to learn something about their individual professional careers and milestones (or problems) they faced. In all the discussions I attended, the majority of questions addressed the individual professional careers rather than the profiles or the business of the companies they represented. All of the representatives were willing to answer all our questions and to give us constructive feedback.

I really appreciate that the representatives were frank to us and shared some of their personal professional experiences, since this resulted in a very informative discussion with a high input. For me, as belonging to the small group of PhD students who rather want to apply for a consulting career than staying in academia, this event was some kind of encouragement to also think about a career in industry. This encouragement can be attributed to the highly motivating conversations with intellectual and experienced professionals.

Based on my experience and motivation which I gained on that evening, I strongly recommend to participate in such networking events, not only because of the delicious food and the served drinks, but rather (and more important) because of the possibilities to broaden one’s horizon in regard to the upcoming job decision. It was stated in the advertising mail for the ‘Kaminabend’, that “Networking is the key tool for your future career”. Now, after I attended the ‘Kaminabend’ event I think it really is.


About the Author

Hanna Wirtz_614x768Hanna Wirtz was born in 1989 in Essen. She obtained the B.Sc. as well as the M.Sc. in Chemistry at the Ruhr-University in Bochum. In her PhD project, she is currently working on the investigation of Ubiquitin using time-resolved Terahertz absorption spectroscopy with temperature jumps.

 

 

Photos of ‘Kaminabend-Meet the Professionals’

All photos: © Sinja Klees, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, RESOLV

 

RESOLV at ACHEMA 2015

ACHEMA Exhibition, 2015 Frankfurt

Day 1, Construction
Construction. Trouble. These are the words, that come to my mind, as I enter the exhibition hall. Wooden cases, ladders, posters, packing materials, technical exhibits everywhere. And noise. Here I’m passing a noisy drill, there someone is hammering. I cannot go through, I have to take a detour. But where is our booth?

It is Sunday morning and I am in Frankfurt at the exhibition ACHEMA. I only had 30 minutes delay in the three-hours long journey. That’s quite good of the railway, isn’t it?
After I had found my way to the enormous Day of stand constructionexhibition grounds, and had reached the right exhibition hall 9.2, now I am searching for the RESOLV exhibition stand C82. It must be somewhere at the back. I struggle through the junks on the passageways, and I try to remember the design of the stand that I saw in a presentation half a year ago…
There it is! I read “RESOLV” on a light banner and think: “Oh, constructed already!” Actually, I came here this early to unpack and set this special eye-catcher together with the stand-builder, so that I could help him and also learn how to do it for next time. But it seems he has already finished it. It looks definitely good from the gangway, and it is also eye-catching from a distance. So: all done well in the design and planning.

StandAround midday the others are arriving, and life fills the place: the exhibits brought are set up: the differently coated metal sheets, the autoclave, the fuel cells, the nanobalance, and the interactive homogenizer. Monitors are installed, plugged in, and switched on. Brochures displayed, the give-aways arranged, and in the end the stand wiped. Done!

At five o’clock the stand quard arrives, we go to the hotel and later in the evening we will go to have something to eat together.

 

Day 2, Monday, Let’s get started!

Opening Session
There are mainly middle-aged men in dark suits standing around the round bar in the lobby. The atmosphere is relaxed: I frequently hear loud laughters, glimpse into friendly faces, and see warm greetings. The “Opening Session” will shortly begin, so I go to the hall. I like to be there earlier, so that I can secure a good seat on the side for myself. The huge half-round room is filled with blue light, the word “Welcome” can be read on the major screen in a dozen languages, and the quiet background-music creates a nice atmosphere. I sit down and watch how the hall is slowly filled. Do I see Prof. Wolf-Dieter Lukas there, the head of the department “Key Technologies – Research for Innovation” in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)? So I understand: the announced minister Mrs. Wanka will not come.

dancersAnd now, it all begins. A male and a female dancer, dressed completely in white, give a performance, where they ludically interact with the film that is displayed on the screen. Wow! That looks really great!

Judith Rakers comes on stage. She is well-known, among other things, as the spokeswoman of the newscast “Tagesschau”, and she moderates the event at ease and very enjoyably. First of all, the winners of the pupil-competition are awarded. Pupils from class 7 to 11 could participate, and more than 3,000 teams took part in the first turn. 877 of them could then do experiments, and around 550 successful experiment reports were evaluated. 44 of them were awarded with magazines-abos and books. Out of these 44 teams 3 were selected as winners, who will now be introduced.Pupils on stage
While the teams are standing on stage, the moderator interviews them individually: What was your favourite question? Did something go wrong in your experiment? etc. In some cases it goes really funny.
Moderator: “How often did you use google in the competition to answer the questions?”
Answer: “For every question!” Laughter in the hall.

After honoring the students Stefan Hell comes on stage. Well, I think it’s not necessary to mention that he is one of the three Nobel-price winners for Chemistry in 2014. He gives his speech very amusingly, in which he graphically explains his technique – the STED microscopy – , and also shows photos of the Nobel-price conference and of the subsequent banquet.
Stefan-HellThe STED-microscopy allows us to make images with a light microscope, that are 10 times sharper, than what was possible earlier. And whether you believe it or not, light microscopes are still frequently used today in most scientific publications in the Life Sciences, in spite of the fact that there are electron microscopes, since light microscopes are non-invasive and therefore they allow to get insights into living cells.
Next, Wolf-Dieter Lukas, the department manager in BMBF, speaks. Typically for a politician, he gives a speech without showing any slides. After the great presentation of Mr. Hell, Mr. Lukas has difficulty to pick up the pace. Among other things he speaks about the meaning of the Chemistry branch as “enabling technology”, that enables technical progresses of many other branches in the first place. Since I’ve already heard this argument in many talks about many branches similarly I feel bored and deeply wish that politicians finally start to talk straightly.

Now come the honors with the ACHEMA founder-price. In the “Energy” section a start-up of the RESOLV-partner Fraunhofer-Institut UMSICHT wins. The start-up “Volterion” develops batteries to store photovoltaic energy for domestic use.
The event ends with a short fast-motion video, that shows the construction of the exhibition in the last two weeks, and the people stream out of the hall. It was good, that I sat at the edge, so now I come out as one of the first ones and I can avoid the stream of people. The round bar is filled again, the people are chatting and then they slowly move on to the exhibition halls.

“Meet your friends”-Party
There was a big party in the evening and we got one free ticket. Yep, one. So I go there without knowing anybody. But just how the coincidence wanted, while I was looking for the location I became acquainted with a woman, so we continued searching together. Then, at the entrance came the surprise: I didn’t have an admission ticket.
“You cannot enter without a ticket.” Even my most beautiful smile, with which I tried to impress the reception lady, didn’t count.
“But we must have a ticket! Is it maybe depositedparty on the roof somewhere?” I tried a last option.
“Oh I see, yes, there is a desk downstairs, you shall inquire there again.” She could have mentioned this right away, couldn’t she?
Luckily, the card was on the desk, and it was a nice evening. I chatted with several people, exchanged business cards, danced to live-reggae and rock’n’roll, and enjoyed the splendid warm weather and the great view from the huge roof-terrace, where the whole party took place. I also got to know some people from a Russian company here, who offered me in a discussion on the following day, to give us an access to a microbiological security-bank for six months for free.
So: a successful evening.

Day 3 and 4, A completely normal exhibition-madness
To be on the exhibition stand in the morning at half past eight and to look good and smiling the whole day – I will soon be k.o. The weirdly stuffy air in the exhibition hall (despite the air-conditioning) , the constantly high noise level, and the change between unpeopled periods and complete onrushes on our stand claim their tribute. In spite of my determination to go without coffee, I tap the small Senseo-machine for a “Black Magic” all the time.
My nights are correspondingly restless…

interaktive-HomogenizerSince we take part in the Science Rallye of the stand BMBF as partners, troops of students come frequently by, and they want to know how many atoms the exhibited protein model MMP-14 in reality has (2,690), what we mean by solvation, and what a homogenization process is, by which two in fact immiscible liquids are mixed. Certainly, the exhibited interactive homogenizer is used vigorously for explanation.  It’s indeed good that we could close the small leak that cropped up on the first day…

Altogether, the concept of our exhibition stand turned out to be good: the visitors stopped amazed in front of our eye-cather exhibit (“Imore-people-on-stands it a heart?”), and we got into a conservation with several interesting people. Since we divided the supervision of our stand into shifts of four persons, each of us could quite extensively look around the exhibition. During these excursions we spoke actively to different corporations, and so overall more than fifty contacts came about. We shall see, whether they result in a co-operation…

For me today – on Wednesday evening – it has come to an end. I travel home, and Nina will take my place from tomorrow. So the stand-personell changes once – only Marie and Christopher need to stay until Friday. Keep up!

Jens


About the Author

Jens_128x171Jens Ränsch holds a Diploma in Physics and a Ph.D. in Plasma Physics. He worked for a funding agency for five years, where he gained experience in the development of research fields, evaluation of research proposals, managing of industrial research projects as well as in different public outreach projects. In 2014 he joined the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV as a kind of “all-round” Science Manager.

 


Photos of ACHEMA Exhibition

 

 

iMOS Master: Correlation of solvent fluctuations with dynamics of…

Correlation of solvent fluctuations with dynamics of simple ligand binding to biomolecular surfaces

Christopher Päslack

Image1_ChristopherWe   used   classical   atomistic   molecular   dynamics   (MD) simulations  to investigate how and to what extend collective protein-water motions affect the dynamics of ligand binding to a biomolecular surface. Therefore, the free energy surface (i.e. potential  of mean  force,  PMF)  along  the  reaction  coordinate was determined via Umbrella Sampling and based on that we obtained static one-body friction/diffusion profiles of the ligand along  the  reaction  coordinate.  The  reaction  coordinate  was defined  as  the distance  between  the  hydrophobic  patch  of ubiquitin and the ligand (LJ-spere).

We could show that dynamics of the ligand are affected both by the binding affinity in terms of the PMF as well as by internal motions  of  the  protein.  Furthermore,  the  ligand couples  to solvent  fluctuations  in  the  vicinity  of  the  hydrophobic  binding patch of ubiquitin.

Folie_Christ.1024_768After finishing his iMOS Master’s thesis Christopher Päslack started his PhD research in the group of Prof. Lars Schäfer.

Link to  Master course in Molecular Sciences and Simulation (iMOS) at Ruhr-University Bochum

iMOS Master: A high-dimensional neural network potential for…

A high-dimensional neural network potential for protonated water clusters, 2014

Suresh Natarajan

In the final semester of my iMOS studies, Dr. Jörg Behler from the theoretical chemistry department accepted to supervise my master thesis. Dr. Behler’s lab specializes in modelling reactive potential energy surfaces (PES) based on neural networks for describing molecular, bulk, and interfacial systems. Such a potential will provide maximum accuracy and efficiency in molecular dynamics (MD) simulations when fitted to the high level quantum chemical data. My project was to develop one such potential for protonated water clusters, which are important model systems in studying proton transfer mechanisms in general. I started with sampling the configurational space of the protoned water clusters from monomer (with one water molecule and a proton) to octamer (eight water molecule with a proton) using stochastic search. Energy and forces acting on these sampled molecular structures were computed with density functional theory (DFT) and it is to these data the neural networks are fitted.

Suresh Natarajan-image from thesis

Contour plot of protonated water dimer showing the evolution of a double minimum configuration.

MD simulations were carried out with the preliminary potential in order to sample additional conformations missed in the earlier stochastic sampling. These structures were added to the data set and the potential is refitted in order to improve reliability of the potential. Once a reliable potential was obtained that provided negligible error in the predicted energies and forces compared to the DFT values, it was ready for further analysis and MD simulations. The completed potential was then used to find the minimum energy structures, harmonic frequencies, proton transfer mechanisms and transition pathways between different minima of protonated water clusters as detailed in my thesis.

After finishing his iMOS Master’s Thesis Suresh Natarajan started his PhD research in the research group of Dr. Jörg Behler.

Link to  Master course in Molecular Sciences and Simulation (iMOS) at Ruhr-University Bochum

iMOS Master: On the Mechanism of ATP Hydrolysis in…

On the Mechanism of ATP Hydrolysis in ABC Transporter TAP, 2015

Hendrik Göddeke

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the energy currency molecule in the cell, and its hydrolysis is one of the most fundamental chemical reactions in biological systems. One example of a protein family that requires ATP binding and hydrolysis for function are the ATP-binding cassette transporters (TAP). In order to study the ATP hydrolysis inside TAP, a hybrid quantum mechanics / molecular mechanics (QM/MM) approach was used to describe the hydrolysis reaction by means of density functional theory (DFT) and the rest of the system by means of a classical force field.

Hendrik-Diagram from m.thesis_1340x768

Potential of Mean Force (PMF) along the associative reaction coordinate.

All examined mechanisms (associative, dissociative, concerted, glutamate-catalyzed and histidine-catalyzed) failed to capture the exothermicity of ATP hydrolysis, in line with previous QM/MM studies. Due to computational costs, only one water molecule was included in the QM subsystem for the nucleophilic attack, excluding a possible mechanism involving proton wires with several waters. Therefore, including more water molecules in the QM subsystem could provide a more realistic picture and hence, could help in understanding the power stroke of ABC transporters.

Link to  Master course in Molecular Sciences and Simulation (iMOS) at Ruhr-University Bochum


About the Author

Henfrik GoddekeHendrik Göddeke was born in Meschede and holds a BSc in Molecular Biology with a focus on Bioinformatics from Westphalian University Gelsenkirchen. He then moved to Bochum for iMOS. The international course was carried out in the Tobias lab at UC Irvine. He finished iMOS in September 2015 and is now doing his PhD in the Schäfer group.

My iMOS Internship at the University of California

From September until December 2014 I did my iMOS internship at the University of California, Irvine. I joined the Tobias group which focuses on molecular dynamics simulation of biomolecular structure. My job was to simulate Hv1(a proton channel in a variety of organisms) under a depolarizing potential in order to investigate the opening mechanism of the channel. Fortunately for that purpose we got 75.000h computational time on Anton which is one of the fastest supercomputers for MD simulations. These simulations provided some interesting information about the opening mechanism and the work will be published soon.

University of California, Irvin - Kopie (2)

University of California, Irvine

I lived off-campus and shared a small house with five guys. Even though I just had approximately 20sq m the rent was about $950 per month. Finding a place to live in Irvine for such a short period is very difficult and expensive and if you are thinking about doing your internship in Irvine as well, search and apply for housing as soon as possible. The city itself is one of the safest places in the USA. It is very modern and beautiful as well. The university is around 5 miles away from the beach and the beaches in California are just awesome. When I arrived the temperature was about 32 degrees Celsius and during my time it did not go below 20 degrees. That is one reason for living in California. The other reason is UCI. It is one of the best public universities in the USA and the campus is modern, clean and well organized. The faculties are located around the Aldrich Park which is a botanical garden and the heart of UCI. There is no canteen or something comparable as known from Germany but there are several restaurants such as Subway, Panda Express or Blaze Pizza.

Irvine

San Francisco

During my time I met lots of nice people, visited a few beaches of California and did a short trip to San Francisco with another iMOS student from Santa Barbara. Overall I enjoyed my time really much and can highly recommend UCI and especially the Tobias group for doing an internship. Last but not least I would like to thank Prof Marx who not only arranged the internship but rather gave me the opportunity being a part of such a great group.

Link to University of California

Link to  Master course in Molecular Sciences and Simulation (iMOS) at Ruhr-University Bochum


About the Author

Henfrik GoddekeHendrik Göddeke was born in Meschede and holds a BSc in Molecular Biology with a focus on Bioinformatics from Westphalian University Gelsenkirchen. He then moved to Bochum for iMOS. The international course was carried out in the Tobias lab at UC Irvine. He finished iMOS in September 2015 and is now doing his PhD in the Schäfer group.

Traditional RESOLV ECR Football Tournament 2015

The tradition continues. As part of the annual Early Career Researcher Summer Party of the Cluster of Excellence RESOLV, the ECR Football Tournament (NC-Fußballturnier) took place on 16 September 2015 at the football field behind the GB Building.

The Players Greeting Each Other

The Players Greeting Each Other

All groups within the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry were invited to participate. The participants of this year were “Photonics” from the work group of Physical Chemistry II, Physical Chemistry I, “Elanos” from Analytical Chemistry, “Schlenkchester United” from Inorganic Chemistry and “AK Huber” from Organic Chemistry I. Since there were only five teams, every team had chance to play against each other simultaneously on two different courts. After this exciting period from 10:00 am to 2:30 pm, the teams of the final match were decided.

After a break, the final game started and everybody hold their breath: The winner team was “Photonics” again, for the fifth time since 2011, so they get five stars now.

The Winner Team "Photonics"

The Winner Team “Photonics”

The winners of the previous years were “Real Chlorid” in 2005 and 2006, “Verwaltung” in 2008, “Reaktor 04”, “O Zeh Zwo” in 2009 and “Reaktor 04” again in 2010.

Barbeque After the Tournament

Barbeque After the Tournament

Drinks and BBQ were not also forgotten after the tournament. Even though there was a little drizzle, it was a thrilling and joyous tournament.  The eyes are now on the next year’s tournament.


The more detailed information about the event can be found in the poster below:

ECR-Football_Poster

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Debating with the VIPs of science at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting

Saul Perlmutter

Saul Perlmutter

One moment, you have Saul Perlmutter making vivid appeal for more education about the process of science. The next moment, Dan Shechtman recalls the moment he discovered quasiperiodic chrystals only to be facing more than a decade of opposition from the science establishment. You turn around and Wole Soyinka is debating the role of education in fighting Boko Haram in Nigeria. It is quite clear that you have to brace yourself for an overwhelming experience of debating science and its role in society with some of the brightest minds, when you participate in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. I was given the opportunity to be one of 650 young researchers from all over the world who took part in the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2015. We had the privilege to spend six days in the company of each other and 65 nobel laureates from the fields of Physics, Chemistry and Physiology/Medicine as well as Wole Soyinka (1986 Nobel Laureate for Literature) and Kailash Satyarthi (2014 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate).

As I am working and researching in the field of science education, it was particularly interesting for me to see how passionate many of the Nobel laureates as well as my fellow young researchers are about education. Dan Shechtman, for example, appears in a show for young children on the Israeli television called “Being a scientist with Professor Dan”. Saul Perlmutter takes his lead from Jane Austen and calls his lecture series for the general public “Sense and Sensibility and Science”. Many of the young researchers also try to find new ways of engaging people with science. A young physics PhD from UC Santa Barbara organizes summer courses for high school teachers, where they can get in touch with cutting-edge research. Another young researcher from Cologne wants to organize and film science slams on current topics like global warming and renewable energy where leading scientists explain their view of the issue for high school students.

35394____U1P1338

Martin Chalfie

Personally, I was especially proud to meet Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien whose work on the green fluorescent protein (GFP) has inspired the Alfried Krupp School Lab project that RESOLV is offering for high school students at the Ruhr-University. It adds to the authenticity of the project that I can now report a personal meeting with these distinguished researchers. Altogether, I was keen throughout the meeting to listen to the ideas of the Nobel laureates and my fellow young researchers but also to offer my ideas and opinions to the discussions. I hope that other young researchers within RESOLV will be offered the opportunity to participate in this meeting during the years to come.


You can find a short interview with Christian Strippel on Lindau Meeting in the “Three questions for…” part of 2/2015 issue of RUBIN magazine.


About the Author

@ RUB, Foto: Nelle

Christian Strippel was born 1988 in Bochum and holds a M.Ed. in Chemistry and English. His (scientific) motto of life is: “Fortune favours the prepared mind.” – Louis Pasteur
He studied in Cambridge (UK) for one year and holds a Postgraduate Certificate of Education (Chemistry, University of Cambridge). Currently, he works on his Ph.D. project “Communication about scientific inquiry during experimentation”.

iMOS Course at First Glance

Arriving at a country where you have never been before, knowing that you will continue your life there for a certain period of time, gives you a fresh dash. Instead of the accustomed environment, the unfamiliar things will make you explore them. In my 22 years I have had about seven moves, went to four different primary schools, so regularly changing the surroundings are part of my being. After London, Bochum in Germany is the second foreign city where I have lived for longer term. New place, new level of education. That’s what it means for me coming to the Ruhr-University for the Master course in Molecular Sciences and Simulation (iMOS).

I met the opportunity of studying here in early August, when I was in London, carrying out a 6-months internship in a laboratory of physical and theoretical chemistry with Erasmus scholarship. A German student from Ruhr-University visited the lab for two weeks, he was in his final year of the iMOS program. Based on his description of the course, and after reading the information on its website, I decided to apply, however, I had already been accepted for two other master’s in London. The application process went smoothly, after reading through my application profile the course director invited me for a skype-interview, and within about two weeks I received the acceptance letter. Except the secured student accommodation, I didn’t have a detailed view of how I would finance myself -as it was too late for applying to a scholarship-, but thank to the helpfulness of the science manager of the course, everything has worked out.

I arrived on 7th October, two weeks before the start of the lectures. The first days were about administration at the university and registration at ‘Rathaus’ of Bochum. Besides, I explored the city centre, the shops and the beautiful area of Kemnader-See with some of my housemates. In the first week of the semester we were given an introduction to each course, and also our science manager toured us around the huge campus. The major destination in every building was of course the ‘Cafeteria’!

Kemnader-See-720x540-b

Kemnader-See

The iMOS group is very diverse in terms of the countries represented, my six course-mates are from Germany, China, Thailand, Turkey and Afghanistan, and I am Hungarian. Three males, four females. Most of us came here with a bachelor in chemistry, except Özlem, who studied chemical engineering, and Yichen has a degree in physics. Our study plan is busy on Mondays and Tuesdays, having lectures from 8/9am till 4/6pm, but the weekdays afterwards are easier, with 1 or 2 seminars. The work continues at home with reviewing and learning the thought topics, and preparing exercises, homeworks. This Molecular Sciences and Simulation master’s is a very unique course, it is based on 21st century’s most emerging scientific area, that is quantum mechanics.


Science Zone

Quantum mechanics is the universal language of describing the properties and behaviour of matter, determined at the atomic scale. We should never believe that scientific knowledge is absolute, since we can only depict systems after introducing artificial constraints, instead of grasping the entire phenomena at once. Quantum mechanics is, however, the most precise approximation to the reality today, taking into account many variables to qualitatively predict or explain phenomena. The very core of life itself is researched from the aspect of quantum mechanics. It seems that the former, classical descriptions of existence’s different fields (such as mathematics, physics, biology and chemistry) unite to form a universal picture.


How can we understand quantum mechanics? My conception for that is:
Anything can be learned, if the order and magnitude of steps in the study process is consequently structured. Since scientific knowledge is being built by humans, we don’t necessarily need to understand everything, in many cases we just need to accept and work with the definitions and concepts previously led down by the relevant scientists (or find our own interpretation!). This applies to quantum mechanics as well. First we need to ‘speak’ a good level of mathematics to be able to understand the procedure of how quantum mechanics has been developed. After that we can get an insight into the areas and methodology of its application for a broad spectra of research topics. After acquiring the appropriate amount of theoretical knowledge and experience, we can then use the concepts and experimental tools (eg. softwares such as Gromacs, Gaussian 09 etc.) to study our own scientific questions we are interested in.

The iMOS course is an excellent program, guiding us through the above mentioned  stages, starting with the basics of quantum mechanics. Lecturers give every support to us during their presentations and we can also contact them in their office hours to ask for their help in understanding the subject. Sometimes the explanation for a specific abstract phenomena will be given with a very humorous picture.

I am convinced that the next two years of my stay here in Bochum will provide many excellent opportunities for me to progress in both my professional and personal life, and so I am very glad I could start this course.

Link to  Master course in Molecular Sciences and Simulation (iMOS) at Ruhr-University Bochum


About the Author

Debora Beeri is one of the new iMOS-students in this Wintersemester 2015/16 at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. She obtained her Chemistry BSc degree in Hungary, after which she went to London for a six-months internship in a Theoretical Chemistry lab, where she gained research experience.

My Stay Abroad at the Ohio State University

Within the framework of the Resolv GSS Program, I was able to take an exciting journey to the United States of America. In June of 2014 I had my farewell party with all my friends and colleagues, at which we watched the Fußball-WM match of Germany vs. Ghana. Although the game ended only 2:2, this did not stop us from having quite the party.  One week later, I was already sitting in the plane across the Atlantic. The flight was long enough for me to refresh my English language skills by watching three Hollywood movies (Robocop, Saving Mr. Banks and The Amazing Spiderman 2), after which I felt sufficiently prepared for the many challenges laying ahead.

Ohio_State_Stadium

Ohio State Stadium

Arriving at the Columbus Airport was quite the biorhythmic shock for two reasons: For one thing, the sun was still up! I had arrived at 7:30 pm local time… which to my German rhythm of course was in the middle of the night (6 hour time delay…); and for another thing, it was soo hot! I was soon to learn that in Ohio the summers are very hot and very wet… torrent-like downpours which turn streets into rivers taking turns with parching heat is a common weather phenomenon in Ohio, which gave every trip during lunch break the potential for an adventure! But most of the time, the warm weather was very pleasant.
I was lucky enough to have one of my soon-to-be lab mates pick me up at the airport and drive me around, showing me the important places: where I could get groceries, where I could get an American sim card for my phone, and most importantly, where I could get an American plug adapter for my computer. Finally I was brought to my new (temporary) home, and after unpacking a few things, I dropped asleep in my new bed.

Olentangy River

Olentangy River

During my first month I lived in a big house shared by eight exchange students from all over the world: China, Argentina, Botswana, Brazil and Australia… quite the multi-cultural experience, which America of course should be! From there I could walk to the University in 10 minutes, which was nice. The second and third month I had a room in a private home, which was just as crowded, housing the two home owners, their two dogs and their five cats. I was never bored at this place! It was quite far away from the university, but since it was summer, I was able to take the six miles there and back again each day by bike, driving along the beautiful Olentangy River. If I were staying for a longer time, let’s say a year or so, I would definitely try to get a cheap, used car… most of America’s streets is simply not made for pedestrians.

New_York_Skyline

New York Skyline

Luckily I had arrived on a Friday evening, so I had at least two days to adjust my inner clock and to settle in, before starting to work. Walking around suburbia I saw all the American peculiarities that I only knew from Hollywood, which made me feel like walking in a movie: concrete slap walkways, wooden telephone poles, front porches, back streets, way too complicated parking signs… it’s the little differences that get you. And, of course, everything was bigger in the US: the insects chirping in the trees, the animals in your yard, the cars, the thunderstorms, and Walmart.


Science Zone

Anyway, after the initial weekend I started working at the Ohio State University. I worked in the lab of Prof. Heather Allen doing sum frequency generation (SFG) experiments, surface tension measurements, surface potential measurements and Raman spectroscopic studies on various salt solutions. At the Ruhr Universität Bochum I had already investigated the THz/FIR absorption of these salt solutions, which told me something about the number of water molecules that are strongly affected by the ions, the vibrational modes of hydrated complexes and the concentration dependent affinity towards ion pairing. Complementary to THz absorption spectroscopy, which is a method to investigate bulk solutions, I wanted to use interface selective methods to investigate the air-solution interface. The main reason for my trip to Ohio was therefore to use the aforementioned methods to investigate the effect the salts have on the water surface properties, the different propensities of different ions towards the surface, and whether we see an effect of ion pairing.


Compared to our group in Germany, the group of Dr. Allen was rather small, consisting of around 10 people at the time. Everyone I met was very friendly and helpful if needed, and I became friends with pretty much all of the team very quickly. During my first week we already had a potluck with the whole group and went to watch the city’s fireworks for the 4th of July celebration, which was quite spectacular! I also made some of my colleagues take me to other trips on the weekends, like the Columbus Zoo, the science museum COSI, the Kings Island amusement park,  a dime-a-dog baseball game (5 hot dogs for 50 cents!!), and a college football game, which is always a huge event in the US (with cheerleaders and marching band and everything… GO BUCKEYES!) I even got the chance to visit New York for a weekend, which was one of my personal highlights of my stay abroad.

I managed to obtain a lot of interesting results for my salt solutions, but not in the way originally planned. One of the instruments stopped working shortly before I arrived, and we could not get it running until my last week in the US. I had to improvise a bit, but luckily there were several other instruments I was able to use. Things worked out quite well, and I hope to publish some of my results soon.

In the end I not only got a lot of nice measurements done, but I also met many interesting and nice people and had lots of fun during my three months at the Ohio State University.

Link to Graduate School of Solvation Science

Link to Ohio State University


About the Author

 Fabian Böhm, born in 1986, is a child of the Ruhr-area. He obtained his M. Sc. in Chemistry at the Ruhr-University and is currently working on his PhD thesis about the investigation of hydrophilic and hydrophobic hydration with THz spectroscopy. His scientific Motto: “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” – J.R.R. Tolkien