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What kind of profession did I consider when I started university?

25.02.11, 08:55 (comments: 0)

I did not have a clear picture about my work as scientist during my first four semesters of basic biology studies at the University of Rostock. I knew that the first semesters include mainly non-biology natural science but accepted this as part of a wide-ranging basis. A new experience was that even though I hated chemistry at school, inorganic chemistry became one of my favorite classes at the University of Rostock, thanks to Dr. Balszuweit my inorganic chemistry lecturer. His positive attitude and determined goal to give biology students the basic chemistry knowledge they will need solid future science helped me to get over the chemistry curse I experience during High School.

What motivated me to become a researcher?

After Vordiplom in 1997 I proceeded with my major Marine Biology at the University of Bremen. Sylt, Helgoland, Fehmarn, we had fieldtrips where others make vacations. I could not understand how anybody could NOT study Marine Biology.

The assignment of a statistic course gave me an understanding for ANOVAs (analysis of variance) but more important, our lecturer, Uta Berger, announced a Diploma-thesis opportunity at her institute about plankton distribution in front of the Namibian coast. This was the beginning of my work at the Center for Tropical Marine Ecology in Bremen and in July 1999 I participated on my first real cruise on board of the South African research vessel Africana to the Angola-Benguela-Front-Zone.

Boy did I later on and back home live on the pictures from the hammerhead shark, that came close during nighttime sampling, glowing dolphin bodies gliding through a Noctiluca scintillans bloom (sparkle of the sea), or seals that happily dived behind our sampling nets when we were close to the coast, not to speak of that flying fish that accidentally flew onto our working deck (we threw it back into the water, it dazzled like a rainbow and had huge eyes). Taking my own samples and experiencing serious science apart from student courses really united me with this work, even when I had to sort smelly formol-preserved zooplankton samples in the following six month of my Diploma thesis.

It was the logical consequence for me to proceed with a PhD thesis, because that was the easiest way to proceed with what I loved to do: Going to sea, taking samples, finding answers to the patterns in that samples by linking biology, chemistry and physical oceanography.

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