ISC Course Descriptions


Dr. Joachim Rosenbusch, XLAB and Center for Anatomy, Medical School Goettingen

A brief theoretical introduction is followed by the dissection of porcine organ systems by the students. The course includes: heart and circulation, respiratory system, kidney and reproductive system, and in addition studies of the human brain.


Dr. Frederic Hessman, University of Goettingen

Modern astrophysical experiments, whether searching for supernovae at the end of the visible universe, probing for Dark Matter in our galaxy by studying gravitational lenses, or searching for asteroids heading straight for the Earth are usually performed on large telescopes situated at remote and exotic sites. XLAB has direct internet access to two 1.2-meter telescopes in Texas and South Africa (as well as to a modern 50 cm telescope on campus if the weather is good) with which the students will be able to work during the morning (in Texas) and/or evenings (in South Africa or Goettingen).

Analytical Chemistry

Dr. Birgit Drabent, XLAB

As an introduction in food analysis, the students will investigate the most important food ingredients (carbon hydrates, proteins, and fats). Detection methods for the different components will be tested. Some characteristic properties of the food components will be analysed.

The experiments will be carried out by a great variety of experimental methods, ranging from simple detection reaction to quantitative techniques like the extraction of fat by means of a Soxhlet apparatus.

In the next project students will isolate a food compound and will have the chance to become acquainted with modern methods in analytical chemistry. In order to resolve the structure of this food compound the following analyses will be carried out: 

  • C,H,N analysis to solve the elemental formula
  • Determination of functional groups by specific detection reactions
  • Acid base titration and mass spectroscopy to determine the molecular mass
  • Oxidation by potassium permanganate and identification of the reaction products
  • NMR-spectroscopic investigation and interpretation of the 13C-spectrum

An X-Ray crystallographic analysis in order to solve the 3 dimensional structure may be carried out also. 

All experiments are accompanied by short lectures on the theoretical background of the various methods and by periods for analysis and interpretation of the results. 

The C,H,N analysis, the NMR-spectroscopy and the X-Ray crystallographic analysis were executed at the institute of Inorganic Chemistry, the mass spectroscopy at the institute of Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry of the University Göttingen.

Knowledge in Organic Chemistry is required

Fossil fuels and alternative energy sources

Dr. Birgit Drabent, XLAB

In times of shortage of fossil fuels and increasing environmental problems caused by combustion products, renewable and alternative energy sources become more and more important. This science camp course provides an insight into the problems of fossil fuel purification and combustion, and the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy sources.

The students will refine crude oil by fractional distillation and cracking of petroleum. The resulting products are investigated by gas chromatography. Exhaust fumes caused by the combustion of crude oil products and plant materials are analysed. The consequences of these gases on the greenhouse effect are studied by physical, chemical and biological experiments. Additionally, measurements of infrared spectra of the most important greenhouse gases are executed in the Department of Physical Chemistry at the University of Göttingen. 

As an example for the production of fuel from renewable materials, biodiesel is produced from rapeseed oil. A self-assembled dye-sensitised solar cell provides insights into modern photovoltaic. The production of hydrogen with solar energy and its use in fuel cells illustrates the storage of energy. The synthesis of polymers based on renewable materials provides an opportunity to save crude oil. The products based on both educts are investigated.

Freshwater Ecology

Dr. Dirk Gries, XLAB

In this course students learn about the ecology of aquatic organisms and fundamentals of aquatic ecosystems (e.g. abiotic factors of the physical and chemical environment, biotic interactions, food webs, trophic relationships, element and energy fluxes), take field trips to streams and lakes, assess hydro-morphological features of streams and floodplains, survey vegetation zonation, collect and identify animals, algae, and higher plants, measure chemical and physical parameters in the field and at XLAB, and rate ecological statuses of lakes and streams by using structural, biological and physico-chemical indices. 


Dr. Kristina Wiege, XLAB

The observation and treatment of diseases is as old as mankind. In the last century, the combination of a better understanding of our immune system, infection pathways and modern technology helped to develop new therapeutic approaches. Immunology is a very high interdisciplinary field. The investigation of the basic mechanisms underlying the immune system helps us to understand processes involved the defense of pathogens, rejection of transplanted organs and cancer development. 

In this course, the participants study the different weapons of our immune system and learn what happens to our body when these mechanisms fail. In line with this, we will discuss scientific approaches to investigate the function of the immune system and clinical treatments of immunopathologies. 

The participants will conduct commonly used laboratory techniques in the field of immunology and clinical diagnostic such as:

Peripheral Blood smear
Analysis of bone marrow cells by fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS)*
Blood typing
Western blotting
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
Mammalian cell culture

* FACS analysis is carried out at the Institute for Cellular and Molecular Immunology of the Medical Faculty Göttingen. 

Inorganic Chemistry

Dr. Barbara Ritter, XLAB

While synthesis and analysis are the two poles of chemistry, this course focuses on the analysis, especially on the analysis of inorganic ions. 

There are many specific tests for a variety of ions, most of them applied in the fields of health, environment, or chemical evaluation – just think of heavy metal pollution of drinking water or iron content of ore! In many cases though, the work of a chemist starts before the actual testing: A sample has to be prepared, dissolved, and the ions have to be precipitated in a defined order without losing or influencing other substances of potential interest. To this end, the students will learn how to thoroughly plan and prepare their experiments before finally conducting them with the help of different basic and advanced methods of separation and detection.

In cooperation with the Institute of Inorganic Chemistry of the University of Göttingen the students will also learn about a modern, highly sensible detection method for different elements, the atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS).

Laser Physics

Dr. Christina Lumme, Dr. Carsten Nowak, XLAB

Lasers play an important role in our everyday life – they can be found in many applications around us!

The first task of this course is to learn how a laser works. Using an optical pumped Nd:YAG-laser kit we will adjust several optical devices to get the general laser-setup lined up. Furthermore we will determine the wavelength and the mean lifetime of upper laser level. With a KTP crystal we will demonstrate frequency doubling as a special nonlinear effect and demonstrate transversal electromagnetic modes. For comparison similar experiments are carried out using a He-Ne-laser system.

As a special application we will record and reconstruct holograms learning about object beam and reference beam, real und virtual image. Other applications investigated are e.g. the Michelson interferometer and the recording unit of CD-players.

Different properties and uses of laser are investigated on the research campus Göttingen. We will participate in a guided tour through the Laser-Laboratorium Göttingen, the laboratories of the Group of Prof. Ropers at IV. Physical Institute of Georg August Universität Göttingen and the Group of Prof. Koch at the University of Applied Sciences (HAWK) to learn about their special fields of interest.

Molecular Biology

Dr. Maram Bader, XLAB

This course offers detailed expertise in modern molecular biology using the model organism Escherichia coli. The expression of the green fluorescent protein (GFP) will be tracked on DNA, RNA and protein levels. Methods of isolation, detection, regulation and analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins will be discussed and carried out. A focus will be put on different genetic transformation methods, such as the gene gun mediated transformation of plants.

A visit of the Department of Plant Molecular Biology and Physiology at the University of Goettingen will provide an insight into the state of the art research on transgenic plants.

The following techniques will be applied:

  • Isolation of DNA, RNA and proteins
  • DNA transformation into bacterial cells
  • Gene gun transformation and fluorescent microscopy
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Reverse-transcription PCR (RT-PCR)
  • Restriction of DNA
  • Detection of DNA, RNA and proteins by gel electrophoresis

Besides the molecular techniques and the basic lab routine, participants will have the opportunity to gain insight into online databases and in silico sequence analysis.


Dr. Barbara Ritter, Dr. Michael Ferber, XLAB

Information processing in the nervous system is based on electrochemical processes in the nerve cells. In this course we investigate the ionic basis of the resting membrane potential as well as the mechanisms underlying the generation of graded potentials and action potentials. The students learn to record these neuronal functions intracellular using sharp electrodes. Macroscopic ionic currents are recorded with the two electrode voltage clamp technique, allowing the students to characterize the properties of different potassium channels. Currents through single ion channels are demonstrated by means of the patch clamp technique. 

Animals use sense organs in order to receive information about their environment. In our course we study several functional aspects of the visual system of vertebrates (humans) and insects (locusts) by means of extracellular recording of field potentials (ERG) and perception experiments. 

The practical part of the course may be supplemented by scientific talks and a visit in a research laboratory. The course is made possible in cooperation with the Max-Planck-Institute of Experimental Medicine (supply of oocytes), the Max-Planck-Institute of Biophysical Chemistry (set up material) and the excellence cluster Nanoscale Microscopy and Molecular Physiology of the Brain (CNMPB).

Physics of Flying

Dr. Wolfgang Send, XLAB

The one week Research in Aerodynamics deals with experimental techniques which are typical of aerodynamic research: measuring force and pressure with sensors, observing vibrations with accelerometers, acquiring measured data with modern data acquisition systems. Among others, two small wind tunnels, a rotor test stand and an air bearing for frictionless motion belong to the available devices. A model aircraft, a light-weight drone and a model wind turbine are involved in the project work.

The project week is enriched by short lectures on the Physics of Flying, Aerodynamics: A Part of Fluid Dynamics, Statistics of Data Series, a few words to Modern Transport Aircraft and the Design of Large Wind Turbines.  

Depending on the number of participants and how well they are grounded in physics and maths, the precise definition of the projects will be settled at the beginning of the project week. For further details please visit

Radiation in Life Sciences

Dr. Christina Lumme, Dr. Carsten Nowak, XLAB

This course will introduce the participants into typical questions and methods of the radiation research in life science. We will study the physical and biological effects of the ionizing radiation. For example we will do physical experiments with different radiation sources and X-rays and biological experiments to learn about the biological effects of this ionizing radiation. 

This course is organized in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Patricia Virsik-Köpp and Bernd Kopka, University of Goettingen.

Systems Biology

Dr. Petra Neumann-Staubitz, Dr. Dirk Gries (XLAB)

Biological processes in living cells interact with each other and together form a complex system. The aim of systems biology is to achieve a quantitative and dynamic understanding of cellular networks by combining experimental data with theoretical and computational methodologies. This will enable us to model and predict how cells will behave under various environmental conditions. 

Using sugar utilization in the bacterium Escherichia coli (E. coli) as an example, we will perform in vitro and in silico experiments to address questions such as: How can E. coli growth be mathematically represented and what is the biological relevance of model parameters? How do different sugars, mixtures of sugars and timing of sugar supply affect growth rates and gene regulation of E. coli? 

Based on their own models constructed with cellular simulation software, the participants hypothesize and later verify experimentally how the lac-Operon is regulated based on the hierarchy of sugars in E. coli.

XLAB’s systems biology course was designed in consultation with researchers from two pertinent groups at Göttingen University, the Department of Bioinformatics and the Department of Genomic and Applied Microbiology. A scientific lecture and a lab visit are part of the program.