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Shaking hands with starfish

Science met business and strangers became friends during a special gathering at EMBL Heidelberg in October. A sunset rooftop soiree was the setting to inspire conversations and connections at the first Friends of EMBL Ladies Night.

Minister Theresia Bauer, first honorary Friend of EMBL, shakes hands with a starfish. PHOTO: EMBL Photolab/Marietta Schupp

EMBL’s Head of Resource Development Astrid von Soosten, welcomed guests to an evening of two premieres: the inaugural Ladies Night, and the award of the first Friends of EMBL honorary membership to Minister of Science for the State of Baden-Württemberg Theresia Bauer. The evening’s activities complemented a half-day conference for local female business leaders, jointly organised by the local Association of German Women Entrepreneurs (VDU) and EMBL.

Ailsa Mattaj, wife of EMBL Director General Iain Mattaj, presented Theresia Bauer with a certificate of lifetime honorary membership. “We at EMBL cannot overlook your relentless commitment to research and the freedom of science,” said Mattaj, “We consider you, therefore, as a true friend of the EMBL.” Accepting the award, Minister Bauer borrowed the words of Physics Nobel Laureate George Smoot to highlight the relevance of the Laboratory’s research and activities: “People cannot foresee the future well enough to predict what’s going to develop from basic research. If we only did applied research, we would still be making better spears.”

It was great to see researchers, politicians and local friends finding a common enthusiasm for the many features of model organisms

Minister Bauer joined an audience of specially invited guests for four short presentations and discussions around the theme of model organisms. Noorie Karimbocus presented the different cells types studied at EMBL, followed by Johanna Bischof and her briny research companions: a sea urchin and starfish. Animal Technician Sabine Görgens introduced the evening’s first vertebrates – zebrafish – and Technical Officer Yvonne Petersen concluded by sharing her experience of working with mice, one of the most complex and valuable model organisms.

“It was great to see researchers, politicians and local friends finding a common enthusiasm for the many features of model organisms and for the life sciences in general,” said event organiser Julia Schaft.

Photos from Friends of EMBL Ladies Night, 16 October 2015

Tags: events, Heidelberg, Mattaj, Science and Society

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