Taster lectures on a wide variety of biology topics, games and experiments at hands-on stations, and tours of the CellNanOs research building! Just like last year, pupils had a lot of fun at our Night of Biology. Microscoping, loading a protein gel, examining fruit flies, and marveling at the university's most expensive microscope from below - there was all this and much more to experience during Biology Night!

Dr. Lena Dehnen

On June 22nd, 2023, it was that time again: the Night of Biology returned for its second round! After a very successful and well-received prelude the year before, Osnabrück Biology again opened its doors to interested school students of Osnabrück. Especially pupils of the "Oberstufe" (upper school) with biology advanced course, but also all other pupils and interested citizens were welcome.

As in the previous year, the event started with an exciting taster lecture that gave insight into the different areas of biology. Our professors Dr. Florian Fröhlich (Bioanalytical Chemistry), Dr. Christian Ungermann (Biochemistry), Dean Dr. Sabine Zachgo (Botany) and Dr. Arne Möller (Structural Biology and event coordinator) answered exciting questions in the short lectures such as "How can plants deal with stress?", "What is the importance of fats in cells?" and "How can we explore the dance of molecules in the dynamic nanoworld of the cell?". The pupils also had the opportunity to ask their own questions, whether about Osnabrück research topics or about studying biology itself.

© Dr. Lena Dehnen | Universität Osnabrück

After the taster lecture, the school students were allowed to do their own experiments. For this purpose, numerous hands-on stations and small experiments were set up in the foyer of Biology Building 35 by the various Osnabrück biology working groups, inviting them to explore and informing them about current research topics.

© Jan-Hannes Schäfer | Universität Osnabrück

In addition to fun challenges such as the "pipette tip shooting" of the Laboratory Olympics and the interactive biology quiz, there was a lot for the pupils to try out that comes close to the work of a researcher: A so-called SDS gel, with which proteins can be separated according to their weight by applying an electrical voltage, could be loaded with a pipette and a lot of dexterity; the liverwort Riccia fluitans, which is both aquatic and terrestrial and thus makes the terrestrial movement of plants comprehensible as a model organism, could be admired at close range under a stereomicroscope. The model organism Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, was also on display for the pupils to marvel at. The effect of a mutation that makes it impossible for the animals to climb on smooth surfaces was quite obvious and could be observed here even without a microscope.

© Dr. Lena Dehnen | Universität Osnabrück

© Dr. Lena Dehnen | Universität Osnabrück

© Dr. Lena Dehnen | Universität Osnabrück

A highlight of the event was the guided tour through the affiliated research building CellNanOs ("Center for Cellular Nanoanalytics Osnabrück"). In addition to the state-of-the-art laboratories, the school students were also able to take a look at what is probably the most expensive piece of equipment at the University of Osnabrück: The cryo-electron microscope. Resting on an 80-ton concrete block and decoupled swinging floor, this high-end microscope is a centerpiece of the Osnabrück Biology microscopy facility. Prof. Arne Möller explained to the pupils not only the physical principle of cryoelectron microscopy, but also the applications in the field of structural biology, which enables the resolution of protein structure even at the atomic level. Without further ado, all those interested were allowed to marvel at the 80-ton concrete block in the room below, which ensures that the highly sensitive microscope does not receive any external vibrations. A very special experience!

Once again, we enjoyed the Night of Biology very much and were pleased with the many interested inquiries, conversations and, above all, the curiosity of the pupils. Maybe we will see some of them again at the department in the next years, then as biology students.

You were not there? Watch the video of the event here.