PhD students outline future challenges in polymer sciences
Evonik Industries and DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials organized the second Leibniz Young Polymer Scientist Forum
Young chemistry talents were in the spotlight of the second Leibniz Young Polymer Scientist Forum, which took place at DWI – Leibniz Institute for Interactive Materials on July 6 and 7. Evonik Industries and DWI had invited 19 PhD students from research institutes all over Germany. For two days, they discussed current trends and future developments in polymer sciences and developed new research approaches. The participants had a background in intelligent materials design, composites, polymers for medical or energy applications. The presentation of new project ideas and the awarding of the best idea were the highlights on the second day of the event.
Four teams of PhD students strived to answer the following questions: What are the future scientific challenges in polymer chemistry and how can these challenges be tackled? The participants only had a few hours to define one specific challenge and to develop a research approach. Several short talks, given by the PhD students themselves, and a workshop on critical thinking stimulated the discussion. On the second day of the event, the teams presented their ideas and were evaluated by a jury consisting of Evonik and DWI scientists.
The team that won the 1000 Euro award had focused on an everyday problem: “When you go to the supermarket and buy fruits, there are often traces of pesticides left on their skin. Studies have shown that even by rinsing them with water it is not possible to fully remove the pesticides, which is a significant problem since there are reports indicating that pesticides can be related to diseases such as obesity, cancer or Parkinson disease,” explained Beatriz Chiyin Ma from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz. “We came up with an idea for some kind of ‘anti-pesticide tissue’ that you can use to clean your fruits. We also had an idea for a convenient method to remove pesticides from small berries.” The winning team further consists of Jiraporn Nomai (University Kaiserslautern), Silke Heinen (FU Berlin), Johanna Nothacker (University of Cologne), and Magdalena Jablonska (University Halle-Wittenberg).
Other project ideas dealt with a self-recharging cardiac pacemaker, with optimizing silicone properties, and with the global warming: One team came up with an idea of how to reduce the methane content released by cows.
“It is very important for Evonik to have close collaborations with universities and research institutes and to establish contacts with well-trained students and dedicated PhD students at an early stage. We are therefore glad to once more run the Leibniz Young Polymer Scientist Forum together with DWI,” says Prof. Dr. Georg Oenbrink (Evonik Industries AG), who is also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of DWI.
DWI – Leibniz-Institut für Interaktive Materialien e.V.
Dr. Janine Hillmer
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The winning team of the Leibniz Young Polymer Scientist Forum (from left to right): Silke Heinen, FU Berlin, Johanna Nothacker, University of Cologne, Beatriz Chiyin Ma, Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Jiraporn Nomai, University of Kaiserslautern: