Sparks of curiosity causes fire

This is the first post since a long time. I want to start telling a story out of life and this post is, I think a good start. I am at a point where it makes sense to start telling and who knows where it leads…

I want to tell you a little bit about me as a person and why I became what I am today. I am a scientist. I am not just a scientist by occupation. Sure I studied and did all the other stuff you can read about in my CV section. But that is not the important part. Important is that I am also a scientist by my heart and soul.

I remember when I was 6 or 7 years old my uncle took me to this pond in the park Planten un Blomen (plants and flowers) in Hamburg Germany. I saw these water creatures and I caught one with my bare hands and looked at it. Later I should figure out that it was a water flea, Dahnia pulex to be specific. That moment changed my life. The curious beast was awake and wanted to learn everything about nature. Later I wanted to crossbreed bumble bees and butterflies. I do not need to tell you that this did not work out. I could not catch both at the same time. But that did not hold me back to discover all sorts of animals in the surrounding nature of my home village. I felt like a natural scientist in an unknown jungle to discover all these animals everywhere. I think Carl von Linne had a similar feeling.

I was also highly interested into the universe. And actually, I bought a book about Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity when I was 14. I liked physics and the universe and wanted to become an astrophysicist. With 16 I wanted to become an intern at DESY the particle accelerator in Hamburg. I did not get the internship because I was too young. Instead, I went somewhere else and calibrated 2 weeks some sensors. That was quite a bummer for me. I still loved physics but biology was more appealing at that point.

One of my last school projects in the 11th grade I started by my own was “The influence of ionizing radiation and magnetic fields on the growth in potatoes”. I had a sophisticated plan. I irradiated potatoes with alpha, beta and gamma radiation (Thanks to my teacher Mr. Bielke at this point) Then I planted the potatoes and waited for the blossoms. The plans was to take the pollen (1n) and treat them with colchicine to make them 2n and breed via a callus culture fully grown potato plants out of them. I thought that any mutation caused by the treatment would become phenotypical visible because it would be now homozygote. I will never forget when I called a plant breeding Institute to get advice and help for my project. The lady at the phone asked me if the potatoes would be grown under sterile conditions because that would be necessary for the callus culture. I looked out of the window and saw my potato plants in my grandmothers’ garden moving the wind… Well I was able to finish the project in a different way and learnt already how science works.

I stuck to Biology but never lost my interests in space and the universe. At that moment I was more interested into genetics and I thought to get there faster when I would chose to study Biochemistry instead of Biology. Well, I saw all the Biology students in the same classrooms for the first 2 years. But never the less I loved to study Biochemistry but people told me that I am a lost Biologist.

The first page of my Biochemistry textbook should guide me in mysterious ways to my deep down interests but not in a direct way.

A diploma, a PhD thesis, two postdocs and a trial in industry later, I am now at the point where I see clearly where all my past has led me to. It helped me to peel of the wrong beliefs. The decision going in industry made me learn the best life lesson so far. Do what you love and do not let you tell you otherwise. Believe in yourself not in others. You are the creator of your own life! Nobody else!

All that led me here. I want to work in Space and Biology at the same time and I want to help humanity to create a bright future. It is never too late. Let us get started…

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