Editorial Newsletter July 2022

Knowledge creates communication! I am convinced of this, both professionally and personally. Since the beginning of 2022, I, Elisabeth Elschner, am the new colleague on the DGM team. My position is Science Communication Officer. I promise you have already read about me without knowing it. In the editorial of the July issue, you will find out about the biographical detours in life that ultimately lead to the desired destination.

"Tell me, you as a biologist ..." - When I was still studying biology in Dresden and Jena, I seemed to be the universal walking encyclopedia of biology on two legs for friends, acquaintances, and family. From anthropology to cell biology, I had to be prepared to answer all questions about the science of life. The looks were all the more sobering when I revised the long-held myth of the all-knowing scientist with the simple words: "I am 'only' a botanist." Of course, I didn't leave it at that. My curiosity to acquire knowledge and to communicate it in a generally understandable way was and still is very present. Knowledge creates communication.

Since January 2022, I have been the Science Communication Officer at the DGM. While the head office is in Sankt Augustin in the Bonn area, I live and work remotely in Dresden. In my job, I can combine my joy of learning and writing with all aspects of communication focused on scientific knowledge or scientific work. I soon held the position of "scribbler" in the DGM team. Editorial, event descriptions, and conference reports in the monthly newsletter, among other things, come from my pen. In addition, together with colleagues from the Fraunhofer IWS Dresden, led by co-speaker Prof. Dr. Martina Zimmermann and Dr. Stefan Klein, Managing Director of the DGM, I am the contact person for the Task Area Community Interaction of the DFG-funded project NFDI-MatWerk.

My professional career so far has been as varied as my work, which has always taken me on unpredictable paths in a roundabout way. Even at school, I loved being able to get to the bottom of things. Nature, in particular, fascinated me. With the youthful desire to become a scientist and to do good in the service of humanity, I envisioned my future in research. Studying biology was exciting in terms of content but, contrary to expectations, less fulfilling. The scientific way of thinking was too one-sided, and there was too little contextualization of knowledge. By choosing to continue my studies in the history of science at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, I found the opportunity to professionally combine and communicate the interdisciplinary dialogue between the natural sciences and the humanities. The faculty is housed in the Ernst Haeckel House, the former home of the evolutionary biologist of the same name, Ernst Haeckel (1834 - 1919). To this day, Haeckel's former study and balcony rooms have survived in their original condition and attract visitors from all over the world to the memorial museum and archive in Jena. At this place - where scientific and public research meet - I discovered my passion for science communication.

As part of my final thesis in the history of science, I co-curated an on-site exhibition. Preparing academic content in a generally understandable way, making it vivid on the object, getting people excited about knowledge - that's the basis for getting into conversation with each other so that experience and exchange generate new knowledge.

My path from the Ernst Haeckel House led me via a scientific traineeship to the Dresden Technical Collections and the DLR_School_Lab of the Dresden University of Technology. After a detour into business communication, I not only found an outstanding, familiar team at the German Society for Materials Science but also found my way back into science. Science needs communication - intradisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and understandable for the public - so that it is heard in society, politics, and business. Stephen Hawking on this:

The most significant human achievements have come about through communication - the worst mistakes because people do not talk to each other.

I would already like to make you curious about the following newsletter. A colleague in the DGM team who you also value personally will tell you about her life's journey. Be curious and enjoy the varied and informative reading in the July newsletter until the August issue.

Elisabeth Elschner 
Science Communication and Public Relations Officer NFDI-MatWerk

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