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Christine Kern

PhD candidate, Institute of Physical Chemistry, Justus-Liebig University Gießen

Science is for everyone. If you are curious, if you want to understand how and why something works, if you want to contribute to a better world for all, then science is the right place for you.

What do you do?

As part of my doctoral thesis I am investigating the mobility of strontium in bone using mass spectrometry imaging. The background is the research of new implant materials for osteoporotic bone fractures. Osteoporosis is a systemic bone disease that affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men of old age and often results in poorly healing fractures. In recent years, strontium has emerged as an active agent that has a positive effect on bone healing. In order to reduce the number of animal experiments required to develop new implant materials in the future, we want to simulate the strontium distribution from bone implants into bone mathematically. For this we need physical parameters of strontium transport in bone which I am trying to determine experimentally. 

Why did you choose this field?

"Analytical chemistry fascinated me the most and it has remained that way to this day."

I can't remember a particular moment when I knew I wanted to be a scientist. Rather, since I can remember, I have enjoyed experimenting, observing, discovering new things and, above all, understanding things. Even as a child, together with my twin sister, I always questioned everything, tried out new things and was curious. Since I didn't like physics very much at school and mathematics was too abstract for me, I decided to study chemistry. Chemistry studies are especially beautiful because you also study the basics of physics, mathematics anyway, and biology. Analytical chemistry fascinated me the most and it has remained that way to this day. 

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

My twin sister and I were the first (and so far only) ones in our family to study at a university. The initial phase of our studies was quite difficult for us. Unfortunately, there were hardly any mentoring programs for students from working families at that time. Therefore we had to find our way in the unknown area of academic life ourselves besides the challenging study of chemistry. In retrospect, I wish I could have enjoyed my student days more.

Why do you love working in STEM?

The challenge to understand the world and the universe a little better every day and the feeling when I can finally understand the truth behind a complicated thing is what I like most about the science and work in STEM.

Best advice for the next generation

Science is for everyone. If you are curious, if you want to understand how and why something works, if you want to contribute to a better world for all, then science is the right place for you.

Fun fact

As a child, science fiction films, books and television series like Star Trek showed me the way to science and what might be possible in the future. What impressed me most was that everything is possible regardless of gender, age, religion or alien race.