By Ella Ogilvy
Main Building of JLU
The Liebig College programme at Justus-Liebig University is an opportunity for early year Chemistry Undergraduates to be involved in Organic Chemistry research in a research group that work at the University and also to be given lectures from visiting professors. It was created in memory of the namesake of the University, Justus von Liebig, who is the founder of Organic Chemistry and was a professor at the University. Giessen has a Liebig museum with his office, teaching labs, lecture theatre, and highlights his work. His main contributions include; devising the model of practical laboratory Chemistry teaching, significant improvements to agriculture, and the creation of various apparatus for the lab.
I had never been outside a country for longer than a week before, so it was an incredibly exciting opportunity. I had visited a different region of Germany before and knew I wanted to return and discover more of the country, and even possibly do further study there. With this in mind, I decided to undertake a German course last year and then when I saw this opportunity it seemed perfect for me and so I applied.
Top left: JLU Chemistry department; Middle centre: view of courtyard from my desk; Bottom left: Picture of lab from desk; Middle centre: Fume hood to perform experiments in; Far right: Justus von Liebig’s lecture theatre with demonstration desk at the museum
There were 7 other students from Ireland, Canada, Italy, Ukraine, and Poland took part in the programme this year. We lived together in accommodation organised by the University in the centre of Giessen and it was great to be around such an international group of people.
The lab work was incredibly enjoyable and interesting to me. I was a part of Professor Wegner’s group that consisted of Masters and PhD students. Being a part of the group involved weekly meetings where members of the group delivered presentations or we completed challenges given to us by the Professor about organic synthesis. I was assigned a PhD student that supervised me throughout my project and my research assisted him in his thesis.
I had my own fume hood which is where I performed the practical work and my own desk where I wrote up my experimental methods and observations.
At University labs I had performed some of the procedures that I used for my research project, but from taking part in this programme I learnt an incredible amount more. It was interesting to take part in the process from researching published papers, to synthesizing the products that could be analysed and their properties examined.
At the end of my time there I had to give a presentation on my summer project and submit a report on my experiments.
Here are some of the reactions and products from my time there:
Giessen and Travelling in Germany
Giessen is located a 40-minute train journey north of Frankfurt. It is mainly a student city with 2 universities, a lot of the city was relatively modern with everything being very easy to get around with all you need nearby. We often went to the park which was pretty and the outdoor swimming pool to enjoy the incredibly hot summer we had.
Pictures of Giessen – Top left: Main shopping street; Top right: Picture from the square; Bottom left: “Elefantenklo” bridge; Bottom right: River in park
At the weekends we travelled in Germany which was incredibly easy with FlixBus and the trains. I visited Cologne, Heidelberg, Mainz, Marburg, and Frankfurt. Although some people went even further and went on weekend trips to Amsterdam, Berlin, and Brussels.
Here are some photos from my travels:
Living in Germany was an amazing experience that I will not forget. From taking part in this programme I have gained a large insight into the world of academic organic chemistry research, a field in which I am interested as a future career. The practical skills I have obtained will aid me throughout the rest of my degree in labs and in my final year research project.
If you are a Chemistry student interested in applying for Liebig College and have any further questions you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Further information can be found here: https://www.uni-giessen.de/faculties/f08/liebig-college/about.