Students will work in the laboratory of Professor Ian T. Baldwin, head of the Department of Molecular Ecology at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Jena, Germany, which lies in the hill country of Thuringia and is an important German industrial, technological, and research hub. The Baldwin lab is known internationally for their work on ecological interactions within communities of plants and insects. During the internship, students will work under the supervision of scientists in Baldwin’s department working on the model plant organism Nicotiana attenuata. Specifically, they will be involved in projects that involve genetic manipulation of plants, insects, and fungi.
The Max Planck Society and the Institute for Chemical Ecology
The society operates a large number of institutions in Germany as well as abroad, focused on basic research in the life sciences, natural sciences, and humanities. Although each institute acts independently in the selection and conduct of their research pursuits, the quality of the research must meet the Max Planck Society’s criteria for excellence. The Institute for Chemical Ecology investigates the role, diversity, and characteristics of chemical signals, which control the interactions between organisms and their environment. Besides the Department of Molecular Ecology where BYU interns will work, the institute features four other departments: Biochemistry, Evolutionary Neuroethology, Entomology, and Bioorganic Chemistry. Baldwin determines summer research projects and assigns mentors from his department to work with BYU interns. Mentors will contact interns soon after selection to share information and provide reading material to help prepare them for their role in the research project. In the past, student projects have included work in molecular biology, plant breeding, genomics, and bioinformatics. Eight BYU interns have been co-authors on seven publications during the twelve years the internship has been available.