New Six-Part Lecture Series ’Microbes and Environmental Chemistry: Invisible Actors of Planetary Change’ Starts October 14, 2021

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The Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing and Freie Universität Berlin invite you on a scientific voyage of discovery into the world of microorganisms

The interactions of microorganisms and other living organisms with our planet will be the focus of a public lecture series organized by the Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing - BAM) together with Freie Universität Berlin. The six talks - which form part of the overarching "Science with Impact" lecture series to celebrate BAM’s 150th anniversary - will kick off on October 14, 2021, with a whole host of internationally renowned experts, offering unique insights from different disciplines. The lectures will be held in English and take place on Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. They can be viewed online free of charge and without prior registration.

Although individual microorganisms are invisible to the naked eye, they fulfill extremely important functions for humans and the environment all over the world - from mountains and deserts to oceans and rivers. They influence the cycles of elements, substances, and energy, cause soils to produce food and plants to thrive. Even the landscape - the shape of the Earth’s surface - is modulated by fascinating interactions between microbes, other organisms, the climate, and plate tectonics.

The relationships between living things and the Earth increasingly face major challenges. For example, has the exponential increase in human-made pollution, such as plastic waste, changed the global microbiome? Are algae on the Greenland ice sheet influencing the rate at which glaciers are melting and sea levels rising? In what ways does global warming cause microbial feedback in the Earth’s carbon and nitrogen budgets? And how can these countless tiny organisms and their extremely significant effects be made visible? Specialists from various disciplines shed light on the role of microbes on our planet and expand our anthropocentric view of the entire Earth system.

These questions will be addressed in individual lectures held by Prof. Todd Ehlers (University of Tübingen and California Institute of Technology), Liane G. Benning (Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Freie Universität Berlin), Lisa Gieg (University of Calgary), Friedhelm von Blanckenburg (Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Freie Universität Berlin), Antje Boetius (Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research at the University of Bremen, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology), and Dirk Wagner (Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, University of Potsdam).

In addition to the "Science with Impact" lecture series, a number of other events are scheduled to take place between October and December 2021 for BAM’s 150th anniversary, such as lectures on digitalization and sustainability in the construction industry, and on high-performance materials and welding techniques in additive manufacturing.

  • You can find more information on the lecture series "Microbes and Environmental Chemistry: Invisible Actors of Planetary Change" and how to participate here:
    https://www.bam.de/Content/EN/Events/2021/2021-10-14-microbes-and-climate-change.html
  • Information about BAM’s work in the field of microbiology and the environment
    https://www.bam.de/Navigation/EN/Topics/Environment/environment.html
  • Further information on the BAM lecture series "Science with Impact"
    https://www.150.bam.de/150/Navigation/EN/Services/Events/events.html
  • Details on BAM’s 150th anniversary celebrations
    https://www.150.bam.de/150/Navigation/EN/Home/home.html

Lecture Series Program: "Microbes and Environmental Chemistry: Invisible Actors of Planetary Change"

  • Thursday, October 14, 2021, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., online
    How Plants Shape Mountains
    Prof. Todd Ehlers, PhD (University of Tübingen

    California Institute of Technology)

  • Thursday, October 21, 2021, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., online
    Algae darken Greenland’s ice - small cells, huge consequences
    Liane G. Benning (Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences

    Freie Universität Berlin)

  • Thursday, October 28, 2021, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., online
    Microbes in man-made systems
    Lisa Gieg (University of Calgary)
  • Thursday, November 4, 2021, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., online
    Does life drive rock weathering?
    Friedhelm von Blanckenburg (Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences

    Freie Universität Berlin)

  • Thursday, November 11, 2021, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., online
    Global change microbiology - big questions about small life for our future
    Antje Boetius (Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine Research

    Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology)

  • Thursday, November 18, 2021, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., online
    Of survival artists and superheroes - microbial life in terrestrial extreme habitats
    Dirk Wagner (Helmholtz Center Potsdam - GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences

    University of Potsdam)

The lectures and subsequent discussions will be held in English.


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