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Dr. Beate Konze-Thomas

Head of Programme and Infrastructure Support at the German Research Association (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) in Bonn

Dr Beate Konze-Thomas belongs to the so-called "Wellington generation": She started reading biology and chemistry at the Ruhr-Universität in 1969 and completed her Ph.D in 1977. Today, she is head of Programme and Infrastructure Support at the DFG in Bonn.



So our basic kit included wellingtons and anoraks.

When I look back at my time at the RUB, I remember
… in 1969 I was one of the first students of Biology and Chemistry. At the time, both departments only had a few rooms of their own, which meant that we had to impinge on the engineers in the IB Building for some of our practical training. Although the electrical engineers had their problems putting their circuits together without causing any explosions, they still considered the biologists to be basically comparable to black holes: you put a lot in but nothing comes out.

… at that time, the areas between the front and the back buildings, which were still under construction, (not to mention the auditorium buildings) had not yet been designed. But we 44 freshmen had to run constantly between the rows of buildings. So our basic kit included wellingtons and anoraks. This situation didn't get any better until the Summer Semester of 1970. At some time after, the (concrete) pools were finished, which led to them occasionally being used for purposes other than those intended at late night faculty parties.

… The enthusiasm of the professors who were there at the beginning was phenomenal and the supervision was outstanding. The chairs were mostly occupied and there were no older students yet, which meant we had very close contact with the professors. I still have good contact with some of them today. We were able to take part in research at a very early stage and were taught to question everything. I think some of those who had started studying with the aim of becoming teachers decided to do a diploma after all and stay in academia.

I still have something from my time as a student, and that is
… my classification books, which I now use much more frequently - and more willingly - than I did when I was a student.

… the dissecting instruments that were picked up during every clearout and are already on their way to the bin when nostalgia wins and they stay put after all.

… and last but not least: my lab cup, which I still use every day and is keeping very well!

There's one really good anecdote from my time as a student
… there was an excursion (Systematic Botany and Zoology) one cool Saturday morning in May that had been organised by the working group leaders: the botanist was very reserved; the zoologist more active. The botanist spotted an interesting-looking plant in a pond 3 metres away from the bank. The plant looked as if it were accessible via an old fallen tree trunk. The botanist stood there pondering and was definitely hoping that a young, brave student would take the path across the tree trunk to fetch the plant for him. But students can be mean creatures, of course, so they all just stood there coolly. Then, with the words, "I'll go and get it for you", the zoologist bravely stepped onto the trunk, took the first two or three steps easily until the trunk began to turn below him, and after a few failed attempts to keep his balance by moving his legs quickly he fell unstoppably into the water – but he still managed to grab the plant as he fell. Soaking wet but triumphant because he had managed to get the plant, the zoologist got out of the water, with some help from several students' umbrellas, and started off home straight away to dry off.

My time at the RUB means for me
… a fantastic time, an important part of my life with a massive increase in knowledge, the basis of a successful career and an enrichment of my life!