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. Philipp Huke, University of Goettingen

How to conduct your own Astrophysics experiment? Modern astrophysical experiments often require large telescopes situated at remote and exotic sites. In this intense week we will build up and conduct an astrophysical experiment including the XST (X-Lab-Solar-Telescope) and the XSS (X-Lab-Solar-Spectrograph) spectrograph from scratch. The students will be responsible for development of components, implementation of the system and to use it to investigate the physics of the sun.

XLAB also has direct access to a modern 50 cm and a solar telescope on campus with which the students will be able to work during the project.

Light and colour in chemistry

Dr. Erhard Irmer, XLAB

Light, colour and chemistry are closely interconnected, although at first glance light and colour might seem to be topics of interest for a physicist, rather than a chemist. On further investigation, colour and the interaction of light and matter play a vital role in the chemistry of our everyday life as well as in the work of chemists around the world e.g. in the form of spectroscopic methods in modern analysis.

In this course, students will explore the molecular, structural basis of the colour of organic compounds as well as inorganic compounds (in the form of coordination compounds) experimentally and gain hands-on experience in spectroscopy.

The importance of fluorescence in the scientific world cannot be overestimated. As an example, the development of fluorescent proteins and fluorescence microscopy allow a better understanding of biochemical processes within cells than ever before. In this course, students will investigate this phenomenon of light emission, as they will conduct experiments on fluorescence and phosphorescence. 

Photochromic windows, that can be changed from transparent to opaque or translucent by the flick of a switch, are an example for the application of so-called molecular switches. These are molecules whose structure and consequently properties, like being colourless or colourful, can be changed intentionally. Students will perform experiments on this topic of modern chemistry research.

Insights into cutting-edge research on renewable energies

Mona Maaß, Public outreach of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1073

The limitation of fossil fuels like mineral oil or natural gas, the climate change caused by greenhouse gas emission and the fine dust pollution associated with health risks for human beings require an energy revolution. For this reason, the EU targets a use of 32 % energy from renewable energy by 2030. The Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1073 contributes to this purpose, as its long-term goal is to develop tactics to increase the efficiency of the environmentally friendly generation and storage of electrical energy. In the CRC, physicists and chemists mainly from the University of Göttingen and the Clausthal University of Technology work together in three different project groups. All groups aim to fundamentally understand and control the elementary steps of energy conversion in materials. Group A focuses on energy losses, group B on energy conversion of optical excitations and group C on energy storage.

In the science camp course, students will gain an insight into all three CRC project groups and work with different highly advanced microscopes of the CRC which are capable of resolving atoms. On the first day, they measure friction with an Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) and thereby learn how an AFM works and how friction losses can be controlled. On the next days, students are introduced to the broad concept of using hydrogen to store energy. Meanwhile, they perform measurements with electron microscopes and a field emission microscope. On the last day, students prepare posters about their favorite CRC research field and present them in an analogous manner to scientists at conferences.

21st Century Challenges in Freshwater Ecology

Dr. Dirk Gries, XLAB

Lakes, streams and rivers are fascinating ecosystems providing a host of resources and services. Not least, they offer opportunities for recreation such as swimming, boating, fishing, or simply admiring the scenery of a natural lake or river. 

However, economic development and an increasing population with changing lifestyles put increasing pressure on aquatic ecosystems. Far-reaching structural changes, eutrophication, innumerable toxic pollutants, microplastics, overfishing, wasteful consumption of water, and direct and indirect effects of climate change are having dramatic impacts such as hazardous flooding, loss of fisheries, harmful algal blooms and shortage of clean water, to name a few.

Conserving precious, indispensable goods and services provided by aquatic ecosystems requires a fundamental understanding of biodiversity and ecosystem processes, and how they interact with other ecosystems and human activities.

Our course activities will focus on  

  • The physical, chemical, biological, geographical and geological factors of inland waters and how these affect the distribution of organisms, the structure of food webs, and the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems
  • Limnological field techniques
  • Identification of aquatic organisms and knowledge of their environmental relationships
  • Key water resource issues for management and nature conservation on local, regional and global levels

Theoretical and applied concepts will be covered through lectures, discussions, field trips and labs. You should be prepared to work on boats and wade in shallow water in variable weather.

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 Medicine

Dr. Kristina Wiege, XLAB

Molecular medicine is a broad field in which biochemical, bioinformatic and medical techniques are used to i. characterise molecular structures and mechanisms, ii. to identify basic molecular and genetic defects of diseases and iii. to develop molecular therapies to correct them.

This week's focus is on the immune system and its basic functions, as it is the main player in the campaign against disease and thus plays a major role in the development of new therapies.

Participants will perform common laboratory techniques in the field of molecular medicine and clinical diagnostics, such as 

  • Peripheral blood smear
  • Blood typing
  • Western blotting
  • Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay
  • Fluorescent activated cell sorting
  • Immunofluorescence
  • Mammalian cell culture
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • CRISPR Cas9

Besides, participants will have the opportunity to gain insight into bioinformatic online databases and in silico DNA 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.  

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. 

How are sensory stimuli further processed in the central nervous system? This question will be adressed by means of extracellular recordings from the central nervous system. We will investigate whether resonses to light stimuli recorded from the ocust's eye have an equivalent in the central nervous system. The reaction of the migratory locust to moving objects is also investigated. For this purpose, the activity of an identified interneuron is recorded extracellularly.

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).

Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Dr. Birgit Drabent, XLAB

In the first part of this course, students extract caffeine from tea. The isolated substance is identified by thin layer chromatography. The purity of the isolated caffeine can be analysed by 1H-NMR spectroscopy.

Additionally, students determine the content of tannic acids in a tea extract by pH measurement.

Next, students synthesise acetylsalicylic acid (better known as Aspirin) and analyse the product by thin layer chromatography. Subsequently the purity may be tested and compared with the industrial product by means of photometry. The molecular mass of acetyl salicylic acid is determined by mass spectrometry and the content of an aspirin pill can be measured by acid/base titration. Experiments to the galenics of the pharmaceutical will also be carried out.

Finally, the antibiotic chartreusin is isolated from a bacterial culture (Actinomyces sp. K11/18) by an extraction and subsequent distillation. The purity is determined by HPLC analysis. The biological activity is investigated by a plate diffusion test. 

The NMR-spectroscopy is 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



Plant Ecophysiology

Dr. Dirk Gries, XLAB

Plants can’t just pick up their roots and walk away from trouble; they have to cope with the prevailing conditions, and must constantly adapt to widely changing light intensity, temperature, water supply and soil nutrient availability.

We will explore responses of physiological processes such as photosynthesis, light protection, growth, and water relations to variable environmental conditions in different plant species and types. Our study sites include tall forests, a greenhouse, a growth chamber and laboratories.

DG has taught at XLAB since 2007. He conducted research at Göttingen University and at UC Riverside/CA and taught graduate level plant ecophysiology at Göttingen University. 

Ionizing Radiation in Life Sciences

Dr. Carsten Nowak, XLAB
Dr. Nicole Brinkmann, Laboratory for Radioisotopes

In this interdisciplinary course, we use the physical properties of ionizing radiation to address scientific questions in biology and medicine like:

  • Where does growth in a living plant occur?
  • What is the reaction rate for photosynthesis under specific conditions?
  • How can we distinguish a tumor from other types of human tissue?
  • Can we destroy a tumor without effecting the adjacent tissue?

In the experiments, we will utilize ionizing radiation generated from radionuclides and from X-ray machines. Initially, we will investigate physical characteristics of radionuclides like half-life and type of emitted radiation. Regarding the interaction of ionizing radiation with matter, we will quantitatively determine shielding behavior, range and the working principle of different detection systems. To quantify the impact of ionizing radiation on biological systems, we will determine dose rates, particularly for X-rays.

Knowing these properties, we will use radionuclides to localize metabolic processes and quantify photosynthesis reaction rates in poplar plants. Additionally, we will get an insight into the application of X-rays in clinical radiology.

This course is offered in cooperation with the Laboratory for Radioisotopes of Göttingen University and the Department of Therapeutic Radiology of the University Medical Center Göttingen.