An important tool in science education.

In a world that is evolving faster and faster every day, where a global pandemic brings everything to a sudden pause and new research results are presented at insane speed, it becomes painfully obvious how fundamental science communication and education is.

We contributed to this during our project in several ways that we present you here.

Panel Discussion


  • mostly students between the age of 16-18


  • moderated discussion between scientists and also members of our team as representatives for junior researchers
  • audience is ‘next generation’ of researchers
  • two-way-communication as audience gets to be part of the discussion

Together with our collaboration partner, the science center "experimenta" in Heilbronn (Germany), we organized a panel discussion for students between the age of 16 to 18. As the topic we chose in-planta pharming and its opportunities and limits since this is closely linked to our research project in the iGEM competition. We invited three guests from various backgrounds to take part in the discussion.

Dr. Martha Mertens is an expert for genetic engineering from the BUND Germany and therefore highly involved in the ethical and societal implications of in-planta pharming. Representing the plant biotechnology industry was Dr. Peter Welters, CEO of phytowelt Green Technologies GmbH. His company is (among other fields) active in the pharmaceutical sector. Last but not least, Prof. Dr. Stefan Schillberg, head of the molecular biotechnology department at the Fraunhofer IME, presented a more fundamentally scientific point of view. Furthermore, two members of our team took part in the discussion to contribute our perspective as junior researchers.

The aim of the discussion was to get in contact with the possible ‘next generation’ of researchers and give them the opportunity to get into conversation with experienced scientists. We are convinced that a primary goal of science education und communication should be a two-way-communication where both parties have the chance to ask questions and explain about their work on the one hand and about possible concerns on the other hand.

Therefore, it was important for us to open up the discussion with the final question and give the students in the audience as well as the participants of the discussion the opportunity to answer our final question about the legal restrictions regarding in planta pharming. We were interested in what, in their opinion, conditions would have to be fulfilled to make the production of drugs, for instance antimicrobial substances, in plants feasible.

All in all, the panel discussion gave us the opportunity to utilize a completely different type of science communication and education than our other approaches. We were able to get in direct contact with younger students and experienced scientists at the same time and contribute to a non-linear form of teaching, which is known to be more straightforward to follow than lectures in the school environment.

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Figure 1: Announcement of the panel discussion about ‘Molecular Pharming in Plants’ on the homepage of our collaboration partner, the science center experimenta 1



  • broad public with an interest in science and some background knowledge


  • learning by listening
  • an established feedback-loop over our social media channels as well as per e-mail

Our Podcast, while being an important part in Human Practices, also proved itself to be an interesting education tool for a broad audience. With episodes being published every other week, we had the opportunity to invite many interesting guests with differentiating viewpoints from various specializations and backgrounds. Our audience could benefit from this in many ways, for example by learning through listening or through communicating with us directly. Since we were able to be contacted over our social media channels as well as e-mail very easily, the possibility of an easy feedback loop was established.

Many, but of course not all, of our guests were from academic fields and thusly had experience in teaching and packaging information in a way that is understandable and easy to remember. That was especially helpful since we had a broad audience in mind. Our philosophy is that science is communicable to everyone, and we tried our very best to provide information on the range of topics in a way that is accessible, fun, and also informative. We did not want to educate in a ‘classical’ way – as per a series of lectures or explanations because we believe that learning is done best when you are enjoying yourself and picking up some information along the way.

Because of that we tried to offer insight into a broad scope of topics, scientific fields and research-related questions. Ethics and science communication were topics we tried to cover especially carefully in episodes, since you need to make more ethical considerations in science and as a scientist than you might think at first. This is one of the key points we wanted to highlight to our audience because science is often seen as kind of a cold-hearted subject. Of course, we also did talk about many interesting research topics in more detail, shedding light on some perhaps less known fields.

For instance, Dr. Üner Kolukisaoglu talked to us about plant molecular biology and explained why plants are such an interesting research field, in particular with regard to environmental issues. This is a topic which obviously might become even more relevant in the nearer future.

Prof. Dr. Nadine Ziemert emphasized the gravity of the worldwide antibiotic resistance crisis and explained to us the different computational tools and databases that are being used in the research for novel antibiotics from bacteria, so called natural products or secondary metabolites, with novel mode of actions.

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Figure 2: One of our team mates at the interview with Jun.-Prof. Dräger for our Podcast

Moreover, assistant Prof. Dr. Andreas Dräger gave us an insight into his research about infections and antimicrobial-resistant pathogens and the drug development process in from a systems biologist’s perspective.

From Prof. Dr. Thomas Potthast we learned a lot about ethics and morality in general as well as he illustrated how to design a research project with regard of the ethical, societal and environmental implications.

Last but not least, Prof. Dr. Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt shared her knowledge on the development process of novel antibiotics and how research differs in the academic and industrial setting with us and our listeners.

As one of the main issues we want to raise awareness about are antibiotic resistant bacterial strains, many of the episodes revolved around this topic. But each and every one of them had a different focus and therefore this underlines how important interdisciplinary research is for working towards the same goal. We hope that we were able pass this on to our target audience via our chosen communication method, the podcast.

More information in detail and the link to all episodes can be found on our Human Practices page.

BIOspektrum Article


  • wide scientific audience from students to professors interested in the molecular life sciences


  • Scientific article with a brief overview over our project
  • Draw attention of researchers towards the issue of antibiotic resistance

The journal BIOspektrum reached out to us and invited us to write an article for them about our project. BIOspektrum is a magazine, which caters to people working, researching or interested in the molecular life sciences. Around 13,000 copies of each issue are being send to subscribers every other month in the German speaking part of the world 2 .

In our section for the magazine, we briefly summarized our project and gave a short introduction on antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) as well as what we wanted to accomplish in the next months working in the lab. We put special emphasis on the issue of antibiotic resistance (ABR) as a global health threat to draw the attention of other researchers towards this topic, because we are convinced that as much effort as possible has to be invested on this.

Furthermore, we mentioned the interdisciplinary of our team and how we plan on using it to promote science education in general and specifically raise awareness in the public about ABR. This might possibly inspire other research groups to shed a light on their topics and issues as well.

Since we were not the only iGEM team publishing, the potential reader is shown a wide variety of possible forms a project in this context can take on.

Overall, this allowed us to reach a big, mostly scientific, community and not only inform them about the problem of ABR and our project working with AMPs as a possible part of the solution of it, but also about iGEM itself.

The article can be retrieved via this link (in German):

Radio Interview at “Wüste Welle”


  • Broad public with a connection to Tübingen


  • Inform in a communicative way about our project
  • Raise awareness about antibiotic resistance in the public
  • Share insights about working in a student organized project

When preparing for recording our podcast, we realized that we might be missing not only some technical savvy, but also required legal knowhow. To ensure we do everything correctly, we decided to contact a local radio “Wüste Welle” and ask for help with some questions we had. To our pleasant surprise, not only did they help us resolve these, but also kindly offered to interview us in a local broadcast. We gladly accepted, as it was a perfect opportunity not only to gain experience for our own podcast, but also a way to promote iGEM, our project and raise awareness about the ever-growing problem of antibiotic resistance.

Therefore, on Friday the 25th of July, three members of our team, Antonia, Erik and Adrián visited the radio for an hour-long interview. The range of topics we’ve managed to cover in these sixty minutes was very broad. First, we gave the audience an insight to what’s iGEM all about and how our team came to be. At this point we also made clear, how interdisciplinary we are, how this helped our team dealing with different issues while developing the project and why we believe any organization could profit from such diversity.

Then the focus fluently shifted on the topic of our research and the issue we aimed to tackle. We described how the antibiotic resistance became a huge problem over the years, the underlying natural genetic mechanisms and emphasized how it’s boosted by irresponsible usage not only in medicine, but also farming. Next, we explained why development of novel antibiotics is so difficult and why antimicrobial peptides are believed to be a potentially viable alternative in near future.

At this point, the radio host became interesting into how do the plants fit the scheme. We proceeded to show how genetical tools can be used to manipulate bacteria to produce your molecule of interested. We pointed out, that this approach proves to be problematic when trying to express antimicrobial peptides, as they result in killing their own host. This isn’t the case when expressing the AMPs in their host organism however. This makes plant AMPs particularly interesting, as they’re very diverse, transient expression in plant allows relative fast screening without the damaging effect on the host and if effect is observed, the scalability of the process is possible.

Here, the conversation twisted towards ethical issues related to genetically modified organisms, the promising outlooks of using the genetical tools for solving all sorts of problems, but also related risks. Last, but not least, we discussed the importance of science communication, as well as wondered about what makes a difference between a good and a bad scientist.

In the end, this radio interview was a very enriching experience and helped to give us an idea what to expect when recording our first podcast episode. Additionally, it showed how challenging it can be to describe science without using technical vocabulary so that people still understand your point, without oversimplifying the subject you’re describing. Lastly the discussion about ethics inspired us to do a deep dive concerning this topic in our future podcast episodes.

You can listen to our interview (in German) via this link:

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Figure 3: Our team mates at the interview with "Wüste Welle"

Instagram Channel


  • younger people with an interest in science and research


  • More fun and casual
  • Interactive format
  • Intuitive and easy way of communication

Science education does not always have to be all serious and dull and therefore we used our Instagram and other social media channels to reach out to the public as well. Our primary target group were young people, that are interested in science and research in general, but do not necessarily have any background knowledge. We established different ways to communicate our work during the course of the competition.

For instance, we started a series of educational, so-called info posts, in which we provided information about several topics that were relevant for our project. These topics include, among others, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as a global health threat, what antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are and what possibility they open up in regard of treating AMR. We also shared details about plants as a source for multiple antimicrobial compounds and on Nicotiana benthamiana as a model organism in research.

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Figure 4: Examples of different info-posts we published on our social media channels. 3 ( )

To include casual and interactive learning opportunities we showed pictures and videos from our daily laboratory life on a regular basis and asked our followers questions about the work we conducted. Thereby we gave them the possibility to discover the most varied methods, that are typically used in synthetic and molecular biology as well as protein biochemistry.

Furthermore, we always engaged people to reach out to us in case of any questions or uncertainties, as we wanted our communication over the social media platforms to be as easy and intuitive as possible, especially for a younger audience from a diverse background.


  2. Redaktion BIOspektrum. (n.d.). Über BIOspektrum. Retrieved September 20th, 2021, from
  3. iGEM team Tübingen.

About Us

We are the iGEM Team Tuebingen, a group of motivated students who are working on creating a fast screening platform for stabilized peptides. We are aiming to provide a system that gives everyone the ability to stabilize peptides such as antimicrobial peptides to create better medical agents.

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