Countries: Germany

Gabriele Köhler

Gabriele Köhler
Development economist

Former Visiting Fellow and Senior Research Associate
Gabriele is a development economist.

After a career with the United Nations spanning more than 25 years in a wide range of positions with UN-ESCAP, UNCTAD, UNDP, and UNICEF, she is interested in three areas of research and policy thinking: the emerging development agenda beyond 2015 and the – neglected – role of the state; the discourse around human security and human rights; and the interface of social protection with broader social and economic policies, notably employment and decent work, international trade and investment policies. Her publications, journalistic articles, and advisory work focus on political economy and policy issues. Her regional specialization is Asia, notably South Asia and Southeast Asia.

By training, Gabriele is a macroeconomist educated at the universities of Tübingen, Munich, and Regensburg in Germany. She has been an ACUNS Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Ottawa (1989/90), a Visiting Fellow at the IDS Sussex (2010/12) and will be a Visiting Fellow at UNRISD throughout 2014.

Gabriele is a board member of Women in Europe for a Common Future, and of the UN Association of Germany, an elected member of the UNICEF National Committee Germany, and, as a hobby, on the board of the Friends of the State Museum of Ethnography, Munich.

Gabriele Köhler collaborated with UNRISD for the project inception workshop for New Directions in Social Policy, 2014. For the workshop, she wrote the draft paper “New Social Policy Directions? Some Reflections on South Asia”.

Gabriele also presented a seminar in the UNRISD Seminar Series on Innovation, Human Rights and Feasibility: Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia in May 2014.

Gabriele became an UNRISD Senior Research Associate in September 2014.

Creative coalitions for transformative change

Is there hope for a structural change?

We sat down and talked to Gabriele Köhler a Development Economist, former UN official, and Human Rights advocate, about what we foresee for our society, economy, and planet 20 years from now. In her paper ‘’Creative Coalitions’’, she explains how, in a world marked by increasing exploitation, an unequal concentration of wealth and unfettered capitalism, there is room for hope and optimism thanks to new coalitions of people in civil society coming together to fight repression and standing up for common causes, mandates and concerns.

We spoke with Gabriele Köhler during the conference: Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilisation, organized by The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).

The title of her presentation was :

Find out more about UNRISD here:

Watch the trailer:
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Listen to the Audiofile here:
Read the transcript of Gabriele Köhler's Video here

Gabriele Köhler: My name is Gabriele Köhler, a development economist. I’m associated with the
UN Research Institute for Social Development.
I’m also affiliated with a non-governmental organization called Women Engaged For A Common Future, and I also work
with the UN Association of Germany.

Nerina Finetto: Thank you so much for joining me,
how is this conference relevant to you?

Gabriele Köhler: I’m here because UNRISD has convened this conference at a time when I think many of us are extremely distraught, depressed, frightened by the fractured world which is one of the titles of the conference. And how to overcome all the inequalities that we’re experiencing and that are getting worse and worse. My question is, is there any space to be optimistic? Are there any counter trends against the increasing exploitation, increasing concentration of wealth, what I called unfettered capitalism. Capitalism that is no longer regulated by a social welfare state. Is there any space where we see some counter current that gives us some reason, even naively, to be optimistic, and that’s why I’m here.

Nerina Finetto: Are there reasons to be optimistic?

Gabriele Köhler: Well, the paper I’m presenting, I’ve called it “Creative Coalitions” and the idea is that we are seeing, because of this pressure and this intolerance and this new racism, because you know the increasing oppression of women. The persecution of civil society in many countries. We’re seeing new constellations in civil society, and even among unorganized citizens, of people coming together who didn’t use to have a common cause, a common mandate, a common concern. And so examples are, for instance, in the United States, the movement that started with the women’s march when the new president, when Trump was inaugurated, which is not really a feminist movement but it embraces very many different groups in American society. Of course feminists but also climate fighters, the people who are opposed to the American gun laws, et cetera. In Germany, we’re finding new alliances. Germany is where I live. We’re finding new alliances that we wouldn’t have seen, I think, 10 years ago where asylum seekers and organizations defending the rights of asylum seekers, are teaming up with the Federation of Industry, the Federation of Trade and Commerce to fight against government decisions to deport individual asylum seekers who are not recognized. The industrialists are interested in, you know, the vocational training expenses that they’ve incurred, but they’re also interested now in that individual because they’ve realized these are people who have a lot to give as well, you know as productive members in society. And the asylum seekers, of course, are defending their right to asylum but it’s a new coalition that we wouldn’t, as I mentioned, we wouldn’t have seen perhaps 10 years ago. And there’s many other examples like that and I think these kinds of new cross cutting constellations of fighting back against repression are what is giving some scope for hope. And I have to really add a very important footnote, I’m talking about developments in democratic societies. If we look at the low income countries that are dictatorships, people are being killed every day now. So this is not, I mean, it’s not to be taken lightly but where there is that democratic space, we are seeing these new coalitions. –

Nerina Finetto: What are the main challenges in your opinion here?

Gabriele Köhler: Well, for these groups, let me start with the positives. I think they have, you know, they have a lot of momentum, they all have energy, they’re getting quite clever also in terms of, you know, producing emotional values. You know they have the stickers and you know the songs and the banners, et cetera. So there is some cohesion also coming just from movementalism, if you will. The challenges are, of course, that these groups, precisely because they’re cross cutting, don’t really have negotiating power. So it’s not like a trade union that can go on a strike. So there’s no negotiating power. Also, because they are cross cutting, sometimes there are sometimes there are strange bedfellows, so one is coalescing with groups, amongst groups, that one would actually see with reservation. So that, you know, at the same time is the Achilles heel of these kinds of movements.

Nerina Finetto: And where does your passion come from?

Gabriele Köhler: You know, I think I’m passionate about this nowadays because I’m a grandmother and I have three grandchildren, three beautiful grandchildren, who are very young and I’m really worried about their future. And so, you know, a part of being a political economist and being someone who has been interested in fighting for human rights. In my career, I used to be a UN official, but I think what’s really driving me the most now is thinking, 20 years from now what kind of society, what kind of an economy and what kind of a planet will these young children be living on?

Nerina Finetto: How do you feel the situation will have developed in the next 10 years?

Gabriele Köhler: Well, if this, you know, I mean, we can say that this create coalition is very naive because if we look at global production chains, how they work, how they exploit, how they exploit people, how they exploit the planet. If we look at the power of dictatorships, it’s very naive to think that some of these, you know, local or even regional opposition groups might actually change something. But I think if we don’t look at opportunities for fighting back then we would be totally lost. What will the world look like in 10 years? Well, I hope that we will see another eco-social turn in the publication that came out two years ago called “Transforming our world”, which relates to the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals. There was this notion that we had seen a social turn in the 1990s that was putting more emphasis with the millennium development goals, or in the 2000s, rather, putting more emphasis on social equality, social goals, social policy, interventions. And that we were thinking, even just two or three years ago that there was now an ecological social turn, whereas now these past two, three years we’ve been seeing more and more retrogression on policies and I think we need to, you know, if we don’t succeed in strengthening the eco, or coming back to an eco social turn, we will have a very, very difficult situation in 10 years. Both economically, ecologically and socially, and politically.

Nerina Finetto: What steps do you suggest should be taken to enable change?

Gabriele Köhler: Well, I think this particular conference is interesting because there is a lot of policy ideas floating around and some are quite, not conservative in the political sense, but you know we’ve seen them for a long time and it’s around increasing social protection, child benefits, social pensions, unemployment insurance, which has been on the agenda since 1919 if we look at the creation of the ILO. There are a lot of discussions this time, in this conference, around decent work which means at least minimum wage. Wages that actually enable people who are working to be socially, you know, in social insurance as well as having a decent income, as well as having accident and health insurance, et cetera. But there’s also now more discussions about how do we actually address the power hierarchies and the political change that is needed.

Nerina Finetto: How can we create structural modifications in power?

Gabriele Köhler: Well, I mean, again this is a bit, probably a bit too optimistic and a bit too naive but maybe these creative coalitions, these cross-cutting, coming together of civil society, which also would need to include political parties, progressive political parties, parliamentarians, and others. Perhaps they can succeed in challenging, you know, repression and planetary destruction and economic exploitation.

Nerina Finetto: What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your career?

Gabriele Köhler: I think what I’ve been learning lately is the important, you know, it’s something that, as a political economist, one is of course always aware of, but I think it’s becoming more prominent in research in the past few years. The importance of power, the importance of power constellations, the importance of hierarchies, the importance in social exclusion, in economic exploitation. How it’s really a relational element that is formed by where you stand, where one’s position or one’s group position is in the social and political and economic hierarchy.
Often in the past, we have seen a change in the people holding the power, but we have not seen a change in attitude and direction. Do you agree?
I would agree, I think if we look at past social movements, there is always that risk that those who are then in power become like those who they’ve overthrown. I lived in Nepal, I worked in Nepal during the Nepal civil war. I was there in 2007 when the civil war was over and there was a peace agreement and we were all very disappointed on, you know, in subsequent political alliances that went back to the old mode of order.
The same thing we’re seeing in Myanmar today. I think many of us were very, very excited when Myanmar started opening up politically and a few years later, we see genocide against the Rohingya, so again, you know, there’s a new group or possibly partially new group in power, but the old patterns of oppression are reappearing.

Nerina Finetto: How did you get into this field?

Gabriele Köhler: -I think I was always fascinated by the idea of the United Nations, of something that is driven by principles, by human rights, by values, by normative ideas. And I think to this day, I do believe that ideas can change the course of history but of course, it takes a lot of good fortune and it takes a lot of coalitions.

Nerina Finetto: What message would you give to your younger self?
Don’t despair. Don’t give up.
What kind of society do you dream of?

Gabriele Köhler: Well I think we, everyone who’s at this conference, I think, shares the idea of an egalitarian society that does not exploit the planet. Egalitarian in the economic sense, in the social sense, that everyone is included. The UN agenda calls it leaving no one behind, and that also includes letting the planet survive. Changing one’s ecological behavior and I think there’s many different aspects of what needs to be done, yes.

Nerina Finetto: You wanted to work for the United Nations, did you find what you, as a young woman, expected?

Gabriele Köhler: I think one has a, if you’re outside of the United Nations, one has a very idealizing, romanticizing notion and of course, the United Nations is on the one hand the secretariat with lots of very, very dedicated people who want to change the world, as it were. But of course, it is also, you know, 192 member states who are quite different in what they’re expecting of the United Nations and what they’re doing in their own country. So I think, you know, you’re asking what I’d tell my younger self, maybe to be more realistic about how much one can achieve in a lifetime.

Nerina Finetto: What message would you like to give your grandchildren?

Gabriele Köhler: I think to fight for social justice. I mean, I mean I would use a different word with the grandchildren but, to be fair, I think something you deal with young children it’s a lot of it is about teaching them to be fair and to recognize each other’s dignity and the dignity of the earth on which they are.

Nerina Finetto: What is life about?

Gabriele Köhler: I think it’s about social justice, gender justice, and climate justice.

Nerina Finetto: Thank you so much for this conversation. And thank you for watching, thank you for listening and thank you for sharing.


Former Visiting Fellow and Senior Research Associate
Gabriele is a development economist.

After a career with the United Nations spanning more than 25 years in a wide range of positions with UN-ESCAP, UNCTAD, UNDP, and UNICEF, she is interested in three areas of research and policy thinking: the emerging development agenda beyond 2015 and the – neglected – role of the state; the discourse around human security and human rights; and the interface of social protection with broader social and economic policies, notably employment and decent work, international trade and investment policies. Her publications, journalistic articles, and advisory work focus on political economy and policy issues. Her regional specialization is Asia, notably South Asia and Southeast Asia.

By training, Gabriele is a macroeconomist educated at the universities of Tübingen, Munich, and Regensburg in Germany. She has been an ACUNS Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Ottawa (1989/90), a Visiting Fellow at the IDS Sussex (2010/12) and will be a Visiting Fellow at UNRISD throughout 2014.

Gabriele is a board member of Women in Europe for a Common Future, and of the UN Association of Germany, an elected member of the UNICEF National Committee Germany, and, as a hobby, on the board of the Friends of the State Museum of Ethnography, Munich.

Gabriele Köhler collaborated with UNRISD for the project inception workshop for New Directions in Social Policy, 2014. For the workshop, she wrote the draft paper “New Social Policy Directions? Some Reflections on South Asia”.

Gabriele also presented a seminar in the UNRISD Seminar Series on Innovation, Human Rights and Feasibility: Development and Welfare Policy in South Asia in May 2014.

Gabriele became an UNRISD Senior Research Associate in September 2014.

Marie Elisabeth Müller

Marie Elisabeth Müller
Professor of Innovative Content Strategies

at Stuttgart Media University in Stuttgart, Germany. Journalist, speaker, writer and mobile and multiplatform communication expert.

“Now Age Storytelling equips journalists and storytellers best for the fragmented digital media age. It is the great enabler to fully understand and apply digital methods within an integrated multi-media digital workflow.” – Marie Elisabeth Mueller

Why storytelling can change communities & mobile is a real gamechanger

In an increasingly connected but divided world, how can mobile storytelling help us share our stories? What opportunities does mobile technology have for social change and information sharing? What does it mean to produce content in a content-overloaded society, and how can increased media literacy help us to protect democracy?

Marie Elisabeth Muller, a Professor of Innovative Content Strategies at the University of Stuttgart, spoke to Traces.Dreams about her work on mobile communication and storytelling. As a journalist, Marie is passionate about new opportunities for content creation using mobile technology, and believes that with proper media literacy, social media can help us to become more engaged, critical, and open people, better able to share our own stories and connect around the globe.

For her, social media doesn’t have to mean ‘dumbing down’, but can instead be a learning area in which we all have the chance to look beyond our own narrow views, and share our stories with the world.

Watch the video to find out more, and join in the conversation.

Watch the trailer:
Watch the video:
Listen to the Audiofile here:
Read the transcript of Marie Elisabeth Müller's Video here

Marie: My name is Marie Elisabeth Mueller. I am Professor of Innovative Content Strategies at the Media University in Stuttgart and I work at the Department of Media and Management focusing on mobile communication and storytelling with immersive technologies.

Nerina: Maria Elisabeth innovative content strategy for whom? Who are your students?

Marie: That is a very interesting question because from my background and also from my perspective I work with journalistic storytelling: the true stories, with verified stories and my students are not journalistic students. Most of them go into content marketing, go to agencies later they have a wide variety of professions in the online media and the digital media industry for them. So I work with them on story telling that is credible, that brings value to the user and it’s from the start we look at the benefits of the user and what is our relationship and what could be of value for both of us.

Nerina: What is in your opinion the most important message that your students get out of your lectures?

Marie: Yeah, mobile is first. With nothing else other than our smartphones in our pockets which are fully equipped media house, it’s a fully equipped publishing house. So that is the first thing you have to understand when it comes to mobile. The whole topic of mobile communication that is really a paradigm shift with respect to everything: workflow distribution, revenue payment model, the whole industry that is really upside down and that is new. Still we can see a reluctance within the industry and you see it more also at the universities.

So that is something that may be most important is just to raise awareness and to teach the application of mobile communication, working with mobile devises, thinking mobile, mobile is also about mobile mindset we often explore and I think that is my message. Open up for mobile because I believe we are already on the trend from mobile to variables. So I think that there’s an urgency to think about how mobile works, how does it really affect the industry, where are the pros, what can be the benefits, how can we manage to find a way to build up revenue by mobile it’s a completely diversified products line also. So all these things it’s very complex, it’s challenging our world and the innovation speed we live in and that is where I want to take my students.

Nerina: What does it mean to produce content in a content overloaded society?

Marie: Internet is online, online is social media, and social media is mobile and with mobile you reach out potentially to like four billion people and that is increasing. So it’s a lot of noise. Social media and mobile live from credibility and from credible people speaking content, being interactive, developing content maybe together interactively and in live format with these users. So content becomes much more of a story. Somebody tells a story and the person telling the story is a guide and he’s not somebody who sells something or who wants to bring a message across and that’s the end of it, you’re not talking down to people. Content becomes an interactive story pattern. Even if you want to just really inform or bring across a product you have to connect it with a story how it is useful for people, for real life people. It has nothing to do with former ways of marketing I think that changed a lot. So content basically is stories.

Nerina: What kind of skills do you think your students are going to need the most?

Marie: That is also very interesting for me because the longer I work at the university and now it’s in my fourth year I understand that journalistic skills are relevant for every story teller today and everybody is a potential story teller. So you need from the start to know how to verify content, photos, videos, interviews, how to verify your sources and the material, how to report, how to tell a story it is very important to know how to do it, but then don’t forget data.

Today we start when you want to be successful with your stories out in this noise, the environment of four billion potential people then you have to analyze before you find the story and before you produce the story who is interested in that and who do you want to reach out to and which platform demands which format, which tools are available. That in itself is innovative and that is something that is also facing a lot of resistance and reluctance within the journalistic and also the marketing industry. Because I think in the past all the professional profiles were clearly distinguished but if we talk about mobile and content stories we talk about maybe one person who can do it all or a newsroom backing up this data analytics and also helping with the distribution. But producing the story is up to one person with his or her mobile. So these are really valuable and new skills and everything develops so fast and that is why we have to be open and innovative on the fly.

Nerina: You’re really passionate about mobile storytelling and you have also a new website and you write articles on medium. Where does this passion come from?

Marie: I am so passionate about that maybe because in my own professional biography and in my own life I am a timeline of media evolution. My grandfather bought a printer, my father was the first printer and in the Second World War he learnt how to print. I have worked for 15 years for a German public broadcast station and for many other media as well and my focus was on radio. So I learnt that not use I, not to use the first person, I learned to talk down on people and that’s it. You tell a story and that’s it, end of the story.

In German we have a saying like it is “versendet”. It went on air and bye, bye you never hear from it again and readers, users and listeners who came back and wrote letters also they were ridiculed, nobody would take them seriously. So that changed dramatically and that is why I am so passionate about it because that has the potential but I see that it breaks down walls and I am very passionate about fairness, equality, also gender equality. Giving underrepresented groups a voice or make them aware that they can become their own spokespersons today everybody has a mobile right now. So this potential to open the eyes and the minds for it that is what I am very passionate about and also my experience.

I have done a lot of work shops now internationally in India, also in the US than here in German, also in communities not only at the university and the feedback we receive and I receive is overwhelmingly positive. When I go there and explore and produce stories on this mobile my workshop participants most often the first time that they hear something positive about using social media for their stories, for credible stories and I think that made me also very passionate to give that to the people not to warn all the time. When other media were invented and introduced to the masses a lot of warnings came up: it’s dangerous, you will become a stupid person basically.

But I think it’s important that we learn how to use them in our own way and also about the negative side but how can you prevent, how can you work with privacy setting and how you can figure out what is a verified photo and what not. So we have all these tools and if you increase media literacy even in the primary schools I think we should go and not warn the kids about using their smartphones but train them to use them right so that they have this powerful means. Then it would protect also our democratic societies. If you don’t learn how to work with mobile and social media they know it and they will manipulate people a lot. So there are plenty of reasons why I am so passionate about it and it’s very, very important for the future of our societies to learn how mobile communication works properly.

Nerina: On your website there is an amazing picture of you being interviewed by a very young reporter. Could you tell me more about this?

Marie: That was the most touching experience for me in my experience with mobile communication. In last February I went to India and then I spent one week in Kerala and I visited a primary school who could produce without any external funding a news show with mobile only on YouTube. They highly appreciated that I made the effort from their perspective to go there and to encourage the children and to tell them how relevant it is and I am convinced, I believe that these children are the youngest mobile reporters you will find in the world and it’s their own initiative. The teachers are great, the children are great so they built this newsroom and I think that is what I love to support.

Nerina: What is the most important lesson that you have learnt from this experience?

Marie: Maybe it’s visible in this experience that is typical from my experience as well in the digital space that it’s a very wrong approach if you think that you’re isolated with your smartphone and then you chat to strangers and foreigners but you never really leave . No this is prejudice. No, I am a model to show you can get in touch through a smartphone, through social media and then you will also meet and even if it’s 7000 KM away or 4000 KM away you will meet.

I see it in my young students also here in at the German Media University that they don’t see the opportunity to “just” chat or to just do an interview by using Twitter. So we started this and it’s really makes them very excited about it, they think they can really make a difference. That is what they feel in one second that they can reach out and then even famous influencers or journalists come back. They do a quick Twitter interview in 15 minutes they take the time and then they are connected and knowledge has been shared and it’s published. So that is a very exciting experience and you could never reach out and make this experience in some groups and also powerful movements if you were not using mobile. With this mobile communication you can reach out to everybody literally and I think that is a very powerful message.

Nerina: Why did you become a journalist?

Marie: I personally want to make a difference. I’ve always wanted to work with people. I had the opportunity to stay in the university for example but I wanted to go out and talk to the people and that is also what you could see in this radio and now this mobile it’s very oral, it’s a very intimate approach so to speak. When I say from a spatial perspective you don’t talk down to people and now users are also brought into the story, immersed into the story. Journalism is becoming much more of a service.

Content marketing is also a service. You don’t want to talk people into buying something that they don’t need that’s old, it’s old fashioned, and it’s over. People are much more aware now of what is happening and they want to be taken seriously and that was obvious. It’s already been about the little child. I like to talk to people, go out, find out more about them and so maybe I’m not used to talk a lot about myself. It’s not so much about myself it’s more like about connecting and talking to other people that’s really relevant to me.

Nerina: Is there somebody who inspired you?

Marie: I think the story of my grandfather who I never met, he died before I was born. So my grandfather came from Poland, from Poznan and he literally walked to Hamburg and then went on to Duisburg and opened a printing enterprise and I am very proud of him and his family. Because I think it’s bold; it is the media enterprise and also it was very innovative at the time and print means a lot to me. Everything started with printing in the media industry so I value that but I also think that it’s time to go ahead and embrace mobile and wearable and the marvelous technologies now.

Nerina: Are we going to read paper books in the future?

Marie: I think we will always read and people always listen to podcasts for example. So for a lot of words. Words are relevant not only visuals but books maybe it is something that’s becoming exclusive. I don’t think they will completely die out but I think just for practical habits, yeah I’m also used to reading on my mobile and books will be exclusive products in the future.

Nerina: Do you have a favorite book?

Marie: If I would mention a favorite book I would mention two books because I don’t want to mention only men. I have made it also one of my goals is to always create equality in perspective. So I really love Julian Barnes and his book A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. There’s a history of the world in 10 1/2 chapters which l love this book very much. I am also very fond about the literally report about Hanna Krall, the Polish writer and journalist, she is both and she’s a great model for me.

Nerina: Why is she a role model for you?

Marie: Because she is a woman and she fought her political fights and she also managed to write about very painful historical periods and persons. She created this culture to picture lives of victims from the nazis times where the nazis managed to destroy all the documents. That I think is really a role model that she managed to create a credible story telling about lives which are not documented. Which is very difficult to write about it and not to write like in a fictional way but to make very distinctively clear this path is something we don’t know but it could have happened like that, it’s very realistic and this is what we know and then to match that to a very igniting story. That is very, very important and these skills are relevant today for social media as well. When it’s a content story stories have to be short and igniting and we always have both sides. Sometimes we act in a way that is fictional or poetic or we create and the other things are the facts and really the reporting side of things and if both come together in a story I think that is breathtaking.

Nerina: What is the future of stories? What do you think that innovative communication will look like in 10 years?

Marie: I do hope it will be affordable and accessible. If you talk about equality it always has to do with access and access to these stories, access to the technology that enables these stories that is the most important and I fear that it might be very expensive for a big part of the population on earth to afford that. But I would like to make a difference and show with my passion for mobile how to work with low key technology and affordable technology for everybody with these stories.

I see the future when I look at it in my optimistic perspective I see it as a crazy future. We don’t need any devices in our hands everything will be screens and we can project 3D and artificial intelligence objects and data visualisation and everything on the fly everywhere and it’s very personalized. I am looking forward very much to this personalized content and knowledge. We can activate everywhere where we go and walk and communicate about it and that is very exciting.

Nerina: Don’t you think that perhaps we will keep even more storytelling, sharing and listening all in our groups. Do you think that we’re going to be able to communicate outside our bubble?

Marie: Yeah, I am optimistic that we can do it. It comes down to media literacy. If you know how to share and to create and to reach out to communities who want to connect with us then everything is possible. No, I am not pessimistic about it because history tells us the filter bubble started not with the social media or mobile it was there always and it was much worse in the past. People would only vote for the same party for their whole life, they read one newspaper for their whole life and so is that not a filter bubble? An extraordinary filter we’re coming from. So the opportunity to reach out to diversified audience and to make use of our power in our pockets that’s here but we have to teach and to learn how.

Nerina: You said that you would like to make a difference. What is the most important difference that you would like to make?

Marie: From today I would say I would like to make a difference really for underrepresented groups and also for equality; for gender equality. I am tired, I am so tired of hearing all these excuses why there are only one or two women on the podium and six or seven men and to always see this inequality in representation of women and men in the media for example. I’m so tired and it all boils down to human rights for me and to interests that is interests against women rights and I would like to make a difference here.

Nerina: What do you like doing when you are not working and dreaming about mobile story telling?

Marie: Writing. I am writing whenever I have time and that gives me complete peace and peace of mind and I can forget everything if I am able to write.

Nerina: What do you write?

Marie: I write true stories.

Nerina: A little bit more? I am curious.

Marie: I write novels. I haven’t published a novel yet but I am writing on a very personal story about my family and I am writing about a sweet girl in Berlin which is a more entertaining novel. So I have several projects and I have been a writer since I could sing, since I was girl.

Nerina: I am really looking forward to reading your novels in a real book. Thank you so much for this conversation Elisabeth.

Marie: Thank you Nerina. It was a great pleasure.

Nerina: And thank you for watching. See you next time again. Bye, ciao.


at Stuttgart Media University in Stuttgart, Germany. Journalist, speaker, writer and mobile and multiplatform communication expert.

“Now Age Storytelling equips journalists and storytellers best for the fragmented digital media age. It is the great enabler to fully understand and apply digital methods within an integrated multi-media digital workflow.” – Marie Elisabeth Mueller

Lysanne Snijders

Lysanne Snijders
Postdoctoral researcher in animal behavior

Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany

Do birds have a personality?

Observing animal behaviour can tell us a lot about evolutional behaviour. It can also be an invaluable practical knowledge if you are working with farm animals. But, there is more to it than just raw data. Lysanne Snijders, from the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, has discovered something much more interesting. She’s found, that not only do birds have personalities, but that there are whole social networks between these animals. They love, they hate, they cheat, and they take care of each other.

Find out more about Lysanne’s search for the personality of animals in our new video.

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Lysanne: My name is Lysanne Snijders. I’m an academic researcher interested in Animal behavior. I’m very interested in animal social behavior and animal spatial behavior. I’ve been studying migration in geese and I just did my Ph.D. on the social networks of Great Tits or small song birds.

Nerina: Why are you so passionate about animal behavior?

Lysanne: Well, actually, I don’t really know. I’ve always been passionate about animal behavior. I really like observing animals. I think it broadens your world if you are aware of all the animals that always are around you and how they behave and why they behave the way they do. That’s why I also became a biologist because I was observing animals anyway, so I might as well make a profession out of it.

Nerina: Why is it relevant to know about animal behavior, in your opinion?

Lysanne: Well, there are several reasons. They can tell us more about the evolution of behavior in general, but also it can be very practical if you’re working with farm animals, to know what causes stress, what is the ideal social situation. It can be very relevant if you are working with threatened populations to know what are the risks, what is their behavior, how do they respond to stressors. But for me, it is relevant because I think we live with a lot of animals on this world and we’re often not even aware of them. And the  more you learn about them, themore you learn about their behavior, the more you realize that they’re actually not so different from us and that maybe in some cases, we should also treat them a bit different than we do now. That’s why for me, personally, studying animal behavior is very relevant.

Nerina: You work on birds, more specifically on Great Tits. How do you research them?

Lysanne: There are actually two main methods with Great Tits. For my Ph.D., I worked with captive Great Tits. We brought them in captivity and we keep them in aviaries so we can do behavioral experiments with them, but we also work with wild birds. We have a number of nest box populations. In the forest, we hang up a lot of nest boxes, like 200 of them. Great Tits really like to breed in nest boxes and also to sleep in nest boxes in the winter, so you can easily check on them. They put collar rings and aluminum rings on them so we can identify and we can keep track of the individuals. This way, we can study the behavior, spatial behavior and breeding behavior of these individuals in the wild also.

Nerina: This is also my question. Do birds have a personality?

Lysanne: Yes. Yeah, that has actually been a topic of my latest studies. A lot of animals, almost all species actually, has been discovered in recent years, that you really see differences between individuals of the same species. Individuals react differently to the same situation as other individuals do. If you put them in the same situation again, you will the same differences. For Great Tits, for instance, we use a number of environments tests. We place them in a new room, which is a bit of a stressful  situation and we study how they react to this stressful situation. We see that some individuals, will just go out and explore the whole room, being a bit adventurous, while others actually are quite a bit stressed and scared and they will just stay in one place and wait for the test to be over. That makes it very fascinating for me because you see these differences that you will also see with people if you put them in a stressful situation. Some are quite comfortable with stress and others just get sort of paralyzed by it.

Nerina: Your Ph.D. was about social networks of birds. Could you tell me more about it?

Lysanne: The interesting thing with looking at social networks, is that you’ll realize that a lot of these individuals, these birds, are connected to each other directly because they are just close to each other or indirectly because they’re singing to each other from far away. These Great Tits, for instance, they form monogamous pairs, so they form social pairs, that usually stay together for their life. It doesn’t mean that they don’t cheat… If you look at offspring, you will sometimes find that there are also some offsprings, some chicks that are not from the partner of the female. These are also interesting relationships going on. You don’t really see it.

Then with Great Tits, what’s also interesting is that in the spring and in the summer, they have these territories. They defend the territories also by singing. Both the male and the female defend it. They use this territory to raise their family. When the kids fledge, they will move around the territory and also further away exploring the area, but as soon as it gets cold, and it really gets really cold, they all go into flocks. Not only the Great Tits, also the Blue Tits will move in. They form one big group of birds and they will move around the forest and also in the gardens of people looking for food. They change their social behavior also depending on the time of the year.

Nerina: Why do birds sing?

Lysanne: That’s actually a very crucial question in animal behavior. There are two main answers that can both be true. One is to keep competitors at a distance. Especially in Great Tits it has been proven that if you remove the Great Tit from its territory but you keep playing the song of this Great Tits, it will take a long time before another bird takes over the territory. But if you do not do that, if you just keep silence, then really quickly, another bird will move in. They use the use to say, “Hey, I’m here. Keep away.” But also song is very important to attract females. There’s a lot of information in how birds sing. Sings that you can tell something about how the body condition of this bird is, how the quality is, how big the bird is and how much more energy it has, how much more vigorously it can sing, and females can use this information also to learn something about this potential partner and base their choice for mates also on this song.

Nerina: Can you recognize a bird from its personality?

Lysanne: Yes, for some you can really recognize from the behavior. For instance, in a nest box population with Great Tits, every year we do nest box checks to see how far they are with breeding, and then you will notice that for some birds, even if you’re just approaching the nest box, they cannot see you but they hear you, and you’ll already hear like a hissing sound and a lot of noise coming from the box, and then it’s a female trying to scare you away by… That was a different hypothesis, but maybe they’re pretending to be a snake, chasing away predators. Not all females do this. At some point, you’ll get to notice this box with this female again.

Nerina: What do we know about the relationship with each other?

Still a lot of research is being done. Until now, it has been very difficult to really track these bird every day or every minute of the day. Now we get new technology, really small little transmitters, and we can really track these birds and with whom they stay together. With Great Tits, it seems that they already, in their first winter – they get born at the end of spring – in the winter, they mate up so they don’t mate, but they get a partner in this winter flocks. They stay together and they try and raise their first broods. You will see, if it doesn’t work, then sometimes they will try and find a new partner, but if they succeed, they usually stay together. They will stay together throughout winter and throughout the summer. Just the whole year around.

Nerina: What does it mean that it doesn’t work? For people, I know what it means when it doesn’t work but what does it mean for two birds?

Lysanne: Colleagues of mine are really looking into that, like what is the value of compatibility, how important is that in birds. The problem is a bit when a male and a female are taking care of a nest, both individuals have an interest when the other would do more. If you can just do less and the other one does all the work, that’s good for you because you lose less energy and so your chicks will survive, but both individuals have this motivation for the other maybe to do less. At some point, if one of the individuals for instance really says, “Okay, you do all the work,” then at some point maybe the partner will say, “Okay, now I’ve had enough,” and goes away and tries to find a new partner. These kinds of mechanisms can cause that these birds just don’t work together. They cannot find a good balance in how much they both take care of the chicks. Then it can go wrong and they try to find a partner that matches better.

Nerina: Are we affecting their habitat?

Lysanne: Great Tits are a bit of an exception because they, until now, have been very well in adapting to the human environments. You see them a lot in your backyards, but a lot of studies also show that the birds breeding in the cities actually do worse than the birds in the forest. If you look at the long-term, it’s probably not a good thing. But then you also have that most birds, most animals, they cannot adapt or not so quickly as we are increasing our infrastructure in our cities. They are pushed more and more into little areas, especially if you look at the Meadow-Birds for instance. The smaller the areas, the more risks there will be because it will be much easier for predators to find them. They will not only have a reduced area to find food but also increased the likelihood of being caught, being killed. There’s this extra stress so you see for many animals, that their populations are declining. Especially what we build and what we consume is an important factor. For a lot of people who live in the cities, it feels so far away what is happening in the rain forest for instance, but everything you buy, all the ingredients that are in your products come from somewhere. It’s important to, even if you’re not living in the rain forest, that your behavior, your choices, have an important impact on the habitats of these animals.

Nerina: What was the most unexpected experience you have had, watching birds?

Lysanne: The most unexpected one and that was not so nice actually, was when we were doing the nest box checks. I was doing them for one of the first times. I came to a nest box and I opened it and there was a dead Blue Tits in there. Then I went to the next nest box and again, there was a dead Blue Tits in there. Then I learned that these nice Great Tits, my study species, can actually be quite mean, killing machines also. When they chose a nest box and then they find that another bird is inspecting this nest box, because a lot of birds are looking for a nesting place, I guess it turns red for their eyes and they just attack these birds in the nest box. Great Tits are quite strong. They are bigger and stronger than Blue Tits. These Blue Tits, they’ll lose and they will kill the birds. It’s not only that they’re really cute little social birds. They also have a little bit of a mean side.

Nerina: What is the most important lesson that you have learned from your Ph.D.?

Lysanne: Of course, before I started with my Ph.D., I didn’t know so much about animal personality yet. I actually found it a bit of a difficult topic. It sounded very subjective. In biology, they use the term anthropomorphism. Attributing human characteristics to animals. I felt a bit critical about it, but them working with these birds, doing these personality tests and following these birds year round, I really also just saw and was convinced that they are very different. This personality thing is really something real. I think that was the most important thing, what I learned from my Ph.D., that you really have distinct individual animals.

Nerina: What is next? What would you like to work on?

I think bats are one of these creatures that they are so many of them. One fifth of all the mammal species is actually a bat, and we know almost nothing about them. Especially compared to birds. From birds, we’ve learned quite a lot about their migration strategies and their ecology, and bats, we know very little. I want to investigate their migration strategy. Some bats, they stay in one place the whole year, while others make this really long distance flight with all these risks. So why do they do this? Then I’ll look at do they differ in their personalities also, do they differ in their social behavior, to learn more about these animals we know so little about, and to also share this information so we can better protect them in the future.

Nerina: What is the question nobody ever asked you but you wish they would?

Lysanne: About how we, as people, can take better care of our animals. How can we take their behavior into account, to improve their well-being? Yeah. How can we make people aware that we are not the only important species on this planet? I think that, for me, is a very important question. I think in science, we know a lot. Especially if you now look at this climate change debates, there’s at least 97% of scientists that say that this is really happening, this is really a problem, and still, there are people that just seem to think that it’s still up for debate. That it might not be happening. For me, it’s important to know how can scientists communicate better to the general audience and make our research clear. Not that it’s just another opinion, but it’s objective measurements about how the world is very likely to work. I think that’s not only for me but for many scientists, that’s a very important topic and important question. How can we bring our knowledge across and how can we have people really trust our findings and our results? What do we need? What does research need in order to be able to communicate better?

Nerina: What do we need? What does research need in order to be able to communicate better?

Lysanne: I think there needs to be, also for scientists, more opportunities and more positive reinforcement of them communicating with the public. At the moment, especially academic scientists, are mostly valued for the scientific publications they make and the grants they bring in, but not so much about how they communicate their knowledge to the general public, which is a bit weird for me because, in the end, it’s all about impact. We tend to measure impact by where you published your research, in which journal and how much it gets cited, just because it’s easy to measure; it’s quantitative. But this is not the only impact and certainly not the only important impact we can make. I think there should be much more positive reinforcement for scientists to tell their story and to bring this knowledge across. More stimulation, more positive reinforcements from higher up, the people who distribute the money, I think would be very valuable.

Nerina: Do you have a dream or a wish for the future?

Lysanne: My wish for the future would be what we already talked about a bit also, is that people really start recognizing that all these animals have individual personalities, and especially also regarding production animals like the chickens and the pigs and the cows, to really realize that these are all individuals with feelings, with stress, with emotions, especially with pigs, which are also very intelligent animals. They are equal or even more intelligent than dogs. That we just should not turn away because it’s easier not to think about it, but that we should really realize how we are treating them.

Nerina: Thank you so much for this conversation.

Lysanne: Yeah. Very nice. Thank you for these interesting questions.


Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Germany

Martin Clauss

Martin Clauss
Professor of Medieval History

University of Chemnitz, Germany

The Middle Ages, war, and perspectives

Is our picture of the Middle Ages correct? Was it all about knights in shining armour? Was it the time of kings and heroes or was it the most brutal period in human history? Martin Clauss discusses why our understanding of the Middle Ages is a modern construction, what our society will look like to our ancestors, and why we need history.

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Martin: My name is Martin Clauss. I am a professor of Medieval History at the University of Chemnitz, in Saxony, in Germany.

Nerina: And what are your main research topics?

Martin: The medieval history of Europe and within the medieval period, I specialize in the history of war and warfare.

Nerina: Why are you so interested in war?

Martin: The middle ages are a period full of warfare. There’s basically in each year, in every country there’s war and so you would have to study war and warfare to understand the medieval period as a whole and this is why it is important for me as a medievalist and then I think it is an important topic for the public. I mean, we have a certain image about the Middle Ages and warfare is always part of this image. We all have a picture of knights in our heads with shining armor, fighting brave battles and I think as a professional medievalist this is my duty to say something against this picture and to correct it to some extent and to make clear that war in the Middle Ages as every war is a brutal and bloody thing in the first place and there’s nothing to do with heroism but with manslaughter and a lot of suffering.

Nerina: What kind of sources do you use? 

Martin: The interesting thing is that studying warfare and war you can basically use all kind of source material. War is a topic in basically everything we have from the Middle Ages. You have written source like historiography, chronicles talking about war all the time. Then you have what we call medieval literature like the big romances and everything, there’s war all over the place. Then you have pictures, you have legislation, you have laws of war, laws of warfare. Then you have archeological remains – castles, city walls and everything.  So it’s a very wide range of topics. I am specializing on historiography, so people who write history in the Middle Ages and the way they talk about war, the way they use language to describe or better to narrate war in the Middle Ages.

Nerina: You wrote that war is a matter of perspective. Could you tell me more about it? 

Martin: Yeah, that’s a very interesting thing. One big research topic I made a couple of years ago is about defeat, about the question how defeat is seen and judged in medieval historiography and here we can see very clearly that it is always a matter of perspective. I mean, the losing side and the winning side, they tell totally different stories about war. It is a bit the same as we can see today. I mean if you look at contemporary warfare, the Americans have a different perspective on their war in Afghanistan or Iraq than the Iraqi people have and this is pretty much the same in the Middle Ages.

The loser tells the story about bad fate, about bad luck, and the winner tells the story about God helping the right side and bringing justice to the good cause and so we have very different stories here. And I think in history basically everything is a matter of perspective but with warfare, it comes much more clear than in many other topics.

Nerina: How did the normal person experience war? 

Martin: This is a question we would like to know more about but for the middle ages we don’t know much about that. That’s one thing we have to admit. Contemporary history: First World War, Second World War and so on, we have a lot of sources about the normal man, like the average people writing diaries, or something, or writing letters. We don’t have these things for the middle ages. In the Middle Ages the sources are very much concentrated on the higher end of society: kings, queens, noble men, and so, to find out how the normal citizen, for example, experienced warfare, is very, very difficult. We can only make some assumptions, we can look at the descriptions, we can see the extent of destruction, of the devastation and we can conclude that the people suffered a lot, but it’s very difficult to pinpoint it exactly.

We obviously have to take it into account that the story is the one thing and the real history, the real war is another thing. Sometimes, very rarely, we get a glimpse of the real war when there are people complaining about the cold, the suffering, the hunger. For example, there’s one poem in there soldier described that they have always been hungry on the campaign because there was not enough food, and it was terribly cold under the armor and it was raining. So sometimes, we get this kind of real picture of warfare but normally we have this disconnection. The people who waged war see it as a privilege and this is why they write about heroism.

And this is only true for a very small proportion of the people actually fighting because in medieval war there were peasants fighting as well but nobody writes about them, they don’t have a voice basically, so they just kind of disappear in the chronicles.  And the chronicles focus only on the heroes, on the bright side of war if you want to say that.

Nerina: Why do we have this connection between war and hero?

Martin: Yeah, in the Middle Ages we can clearly see that there’s connection between the stories that are told about war and heroes. So, it’s the story that makes the hero and this is why…Why is that? The stories are written for the aristocracy and the aristocracy is in power, aristocracy has its social function is to protect the people, to protect the people by waging war. This is the ideal of the middle ages. And so, being able to fight in war is a presumption to be part of the aristocracy, to be part of the leading class. And the other explanation is perhaps in terms of gender that it’s in the ancient times and the middle ages as well, that there’s a connection between manhood and warfare and violence. So, the real man is able to execute violence in war and this makes him a great hero and so these two come to the end that there’s a strong connection between warfare and heroism and in some parts of society war is the only way to be a hero.

You can, for example, this is a very recent research topic, we look at the connection between kingship and war and here we got the impression that when a man becomes king, so he’s a young king so to speak, then the tendency that he wages war is higher because he has to prove himself as king, obviously by waging war. So let’s say he becomes king and then he goes on a campaign two or three times and then he proves himself as a warrior king and then he can stop doing that. So when he’s older, an older king then he doesn’t go to warfare that much.

Nerina: What kind of lesson did you learn from your research?

Martin: Yeah, the first lesson is that our picture of the Middle Ages, we have to be very careful with it. You know, we look at the movies we see the bright shining armor knight things, this is not how the medieval times really were. So it’s important to really understand that the middle ages are a construction. A construction of modern thinkers. So what we have now is the Middle Age’s that are our Middle Ages. The Middle Ages we produce by researching, by writing books, by making films, everything. So I think it’s interesting and important to understand this character of construction that the Middle Ages have.

So this is the first lesson for me as a medievalist, this is an important thing. But on a broader scale, I’d say thinking about warfare in terms of heroism is not only a medieval phenomenon. I mean we see it today. If you look at modern movies about modern warfare, you always got this hero plot. It’s like, you know, the one brave soldier ignoring the command and then fighting bravely against the laws. And I think this can be quite dangerous if you think about war only in terms of heroism. You should take the broader picture and you should try to understand how these narratives about heroism, how they work.

Nerina: And Martin what do you think that a historian, let’s say in 500 years, will think about us? 

Martin: Yeah, this is an interesting mind experiment and obviously I do that a lot with my students; to tell them you know when we look at what we produce as sources for example. If you sit in a seminar and we write our notes and then somebody finds these notes in 500 years or 3,000 years’ time what will he think or she thinks about this seminar. When our society is going to be looked at in the future I think they will be the impression that it is a very complex and to some extent very irrational society and I think historians will consider our time as very individualistic. So people tend to look at their own lives, the lives of their families and they stopped caring about the bigger picture to some extent. So it’s a society based on individualism and it’s a…how to say that… it’s a dissatisfied society.

Nerina: What kind of society do you dream of? 

Martin: Well, first of all, a society where men and women are treated equally. This is some – I have two daughters myself and so I got the impression that we still live in a society where the gender gap is very, very big, much bigger than it should be. And when I look around, for example, the Germans University system it’s totally male dominated, there are very, very few women. Well, on the other hand, I would like a society where the respect for nature and the respect for the environment is something like you don’t have to argue about. It should be like everybody should think about that like automatically. So these are the two things that in my dream society would be different.

Nerina: Why do we need history?

Martin: So I think you have to look into history to understand how society is working and to understand that some things that people think as granted you know it’s like old they are not as old as people think and if you look back in history a bit further you’ll find totally different setting and that makes understand that the times we’re living and this is not like world it can’t be changed. There can be changes all the time and this is why history is important and it’s good fun of course. I really enjoy doing it.

Nerina: Thank you so much, Martin. 

Martin: Thank you very much. That was a great pleasure.


University of Chemnitz, Germany

Karina Pombo-Garcia

Karina Pombo-Garcia
Researcher at Helmholtz-Zentrum

Dresden-Rossendorf, (HZDR) Institute of Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research, Germany

Nanotechnology and cancer diagnostics

The best cure for cancer we have today is to diagnose the disease in its early stages – but we don’t have such technology yet. The main problem with this kind of diagnostics is that the materials we use are attacked by our immune system. Karina Pombo-Garcia’s aim is to develop a new form of early cancer diagnostics which is compatible with the human body.

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Karina: Hi, My name is Karina Pombo-Garcia and I’m doing my Ph.D. in the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and I think I’m a little bit of a dreamer.

Nerina: And your dream is to better detect cancer…

Karina: To detect cancer at an early stage is one of the best cures that we have at the moment. That means that if we detect it very soon, we have much more chances to cure cancer than if we detect it later on. That is why detection of cancer is so important and that is very challenging.

Nerina: Why is it that difficult to detect cancer nowadays?

Karina: So, at the moment we don’t have the technology to detect it at a very early stage, and we need more sophisticated techniques that increase insensitivity that medical doctors can use in the clinic. So that is the big challenge.

Nerina: What was the goal of your PhD?

Karina: So my research is based on small nano-particles that once injected into the patient, allow the doctors to visualize much more precisely and sensitivity to cancer. The goal of my Ph.D. has been to develop a new novel system, ultra-small particles, so we’re talking about particles smaller than 5 mm, that on the surface of these little balloons, we decorated with different things. So the challenge was to put those different things onto the surface and make the whole complex still something worth trying. So, on the surface, we had like a small light that allows us to follow the tumor. We also had another substance, like another molecule that carries what we need to detect cancer via PET imaging. It also has a small key, if we imagine it’s like a key that will open the door, so that door will be the cancer cells, and that key addresses the nano-particles where they have to go, and at the same time avoid that these nano-particles go somewhere else, to organs that we don’t want them to go. So it has been a big challenge because it has been a lot of mix of biology, chemistry, bio-chemistry, physiology, in one single thing.

Nerina: Why is it difficult to find a substance?

Karina: It is difficult to find a substance but it is more difficult to bring that substance into the human body. Because in our body we have like a “police” that is called the immune system, and what this immune system does is that it will degrade any kind of substance that it doesn’t like, let’s say. So if that happens, whatever we have created makes no sense because it will never reach the cancer. That is the challenge, to inject or create something that is still compatible with the human body.

Nerina: What was the biggest challenge during your Ph.D.?

Karina: The biggest challenge was to stick to what you think is the right thing to do. You will deal with many people that will say you know, this is just not possible or how are you going to prove this, or this is too much work, so I think the biggest challenge was to say I believe in this, and I will carry on with what I have done.

Nerina: What did you discover?

Karina: Where I have reached after these four years of Ph.D. is that we have developed a new system that we have tried in-vitro and in-vivo with promising results and from the basic knowledge in front of you. It was a huge step I think.

Nerina: Is there a day that stood out in a special way?

Karina: Yes, I think that the day that we tried, two days I would say. So one day was the day that we saw the first video of how these particles internalize into cells, so we kind of see which direction they’re taking, where, and opening to many more questions such as why are they going here and not somewhere else as we would have expected. And also the day that we tried in vivo, although there were many things to improve in the results, it was so exciting to see how this system works through this living organism. It was a funny story because I sent one of the videos to my mom and although she is not in this field, she was so excited, she said: “Oh look at that, look at that”. Ok, I think I showed it to many people but I think if you’re passionate about your work, you always want to spread it around.

Nerina: Who inspires you?

Karina: My inspiration always comes from my parents; because they give me the freedom to always do whatever I want to do without asking me why are you doing this now, or think of the next step, or think of what you’re going to do. I never had that pressure as I always had 100% support from their side, and that is very inspiring because it’s like they are pushing you to develop yourself.

Nerina: What makes Nano-particles so special to you?

Karina: Nano-particles is like playing with these little Legos that kids play with, so you change something, and Nano-particles become something different completely to what it was before, and you can keep on changing and keep on investigating what else you can do with them. At the same time, it’s very challenging because there’s no methodology to characterize them so precisely yet; and that makes it a very exciting topic to research on.

Nerina: How important is communication for research?

Karina: Communication is very important for the society because society wants to know what researchers are doing in their lives. It’s a way to pay off, that they support us with their taxes; most of us get paid by government institutions, so it’s good feedback. But at the same time, and it’s a point that not many people see is that researchers are experts in whatever they do. So it means that they are the ones who have to teach people about the big challenges of the society nowadays. So, I see researchers as educators somehow.

Nerina: Is there anything that you would like to change?

Karina: I would like to believe that the only limitation that a scientist has to have is the creativity that they have, and not something else. I know that we still have to deal with other things, but I feel that the main limitation should be with creativity, and not other random things.

Nerina: What is your wish for the future?

Karina: I think we need dreamers in life, not just in research, but in any field, we need people that do things passionately and that dream very big. Especially in research, we need dreamers because in most cases we work with things that we don’t know or we don’t know how they’re going to be experienced or react. So we need, in research, to leave our creativity and freedom very free, so we need to dream.

Nerina: Thank you very much, Karina.

Karina: You’re welcome Nerina, thank you very much for this interview.


Dresden-Rossendorf, (HZDR) Institute of Radiopharmaceutical Cancer Research, Germany

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