My experience in Jena, Germany

Hallo fellow CISLA peers!

Though my internship concluded in late July, I forgot to write a blog back then, but it’s better late than never! I was lucky enough to intern in a natural product research lab located in the beautiful university city of Jena. This city has a proud history of dedication to scientific research in the fields of biochemistry and photonics. (as a side note, Jena is Carl Zeiss’ place of birth. ZEISS is a global manufacturer of optical devices such as microscopes and its HQ is located in Jena.) I was a member of a junior research group in Hans Knoell Institute located in Beutenberg Campus.

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Beutenberg Campus in Jena, Germany

My group’s title was Chemistry of Microbial Communication. The lab’s focus was to elucidate the structure and function of microbial secondary metabolites. During my internship period, I’ve worked with Pseudomonas aeruginosa which is a ubiquitous multi-drug resistant pathogen. We created several mutant strains to better understand the mechanism underlying the bacteria-to-bacteria communication systems. In addition, as a side project, I was involved in collecting soil samples from local forests to discover interesting natural products that are synthesized by soil bacteria. Some of the techniques that we utilized include Gibson assembly followed by transformation to introduce desired plasmids to bacterial cells, media preparation for selectivity, plaque assays to put bacteria under selective stress, microscopy to observe reporter genes (such as Green Fluorescent Protein, GFP) etc. I was fortunate enough to make some real progress in 10 weeks which is usually not long enough of a period to obtain results.

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Bacteria expressing the reporter gene GFP

Finally, I want to talk a bit about my experience outside work. I formed a close relationship with one of the lab mates and we went to several indie concerts together. I was somewhat surprised to see that Jena had such a robust punk scene (both in music and fashion). In addition, I traveled as much as possible on weekends. Not only did I pay a visit to nearby cities such as Erfurt and Dresden, but I was also able to travel to Prague and Amsterdam to visit my old friends. There are so many other activities that I participated in, but we can discuss them later in person.

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My research group. From left to right: Ruchira (my supervisor), myself, Andre, Martin, Pierre (group leader), Sebestian, Marcus

As a final remark, I want to thank CISLA for providing me with such an opportunity to participate in active research that is almost a continuation of my experience here at Conn. I will be forever grateful.

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Thank you for sharing your experiences, Sercan! The research sounds quite interesting, and it looks like you had some great adventures outside of the lab as well. Can’t wait to hear more in person.
-Cara

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