Friday the 13th did not deter biologists and biotechnologists! The mysteries of water, an exhibition related to the phenomenon of bioluminescence, numerous curiosities about plants that arrived on ships and a stand entitled ‘Tumours, Inc.', i.e. a few words about cancer. The 12th edition of the Biologists' Night provided not only excitement but also a wealth of knowledge about the biological world around us.

This year's theme was 'Water - the source of life - present and future'. Biologists' Night is a popular science event for the whole family, students, postgraduates, employees and all those curious about the world. Hundreds of biologists and biotechnologists have prepared interesting events, lectures, workshops and demonstrations for both older participants and younger enthusiasts of the natural world.

'Promoting our faculty and spreading the knowledge of biology was our main objective. We want to encourage young people to study and take an interest in the biological sciences, learn about them and respect them in their everyday lives. Biologists' Night always has a theme, but the most important thing is to show people that biology accompanies us in everyday life,' - explained dr Elżbieta Sontag, coordinator of Biologists' Night at the Faculty of Biology.

The 12th edition of the Biologists' Night was the first to feature students from the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk, who prepared the exhibition 'European beaver in the experimental design studio of the Academy of Fine Arts'.

Studenci ASP

ASP students with their creations.

'This edition is special for us because it was the first time we had the pleasure of setting up our stand. We have been preparing for this event all semester. We presented a reproduction of a beaver skull and tried to make it as realistic as possible. The exhibition is very popular,' - said Martyna Padoł, a student at the Academy of Fine Arts.

The event, which brings together enthusiasts of biological sciences, is not only an opportunity to promote young scientists who want to show their research to a wider audience but also an opportunity to reach out to children and young people.

Anna Stankiewicz

Anna Stankiewicz with her children

'I was together with my children at a lecture on tropical plants. The presenters were able to get both my nine-year-old daughter and my 18-year-old son interested. I think this event gives you a completely different perspective on biology and is a unique experience. Every year we try to get sundews, great fun,' - said Anna Stankiewicz. Those interested could see an artistic exhibition prepared by the students with live bacteria glowing in the dark and hear what the phenomenon of bioluminescence is and where it can be observed.

dr hab. Hanna Margońska

dr hab. Hanna Margońska

Participants in the event learned about the colourful world of plants and discovered the secrets of water. Numerous exhibitions, including stands dedicated to bats, invertebrates, creatures of the underwater world and water as a habitat for cells, aroused great curiosity.

'My stand is dedicated to the coconut palm, its importance and use for mankind. In our European culture, it is mainly part of sweets or baked goods, but for many people in tropical areas, it is something they cannot function without. People use the trunks of the palm tree to create things of a technical nature, and the leaves can be used to make walls and all sorts of plaiting. The coconut palm is also an important element in healing. Coconut water resembles human plasma in its composition. During the Second World War, it was administered as a drip directly into the vein. The applications of this globally important plant are truly immense,' - explained dr hab. Hanna Margońska.

fot. Mateusz Rudnicki

Photo by Mateusz Rudnicki/IFB UG & MUG

At the same time, the Inter-University Faculty of Biotechnology UG and MUG hosted laboratory workshops, popular science lectures and unique demonstrations. Students, doctoral students and staff organised experiments revolving around the colourful world of nature. Among other things, visitors could take part in pipetting and bacterial culture workshops, create edible items from chemical reagents in the laboratory or gain basic microbiological skills using tasty strawberries.

The staff and doctoral students of the Department of Enzymology and Molecular Oncology also prepared a stand entitled ‘Tumours, Inc.', where visitors could listen to the characteristics of the various subtypes of breast cancer and then, by putting together a puzzle, find out what cancer cells look like.

Dr Alicja Chmielewska

Dr Alicja Chmielewska

Dr Alicja Chmielewska, coordinator of the Biologists' Night at the UG and MUG Interuniversity Faculty of Biotechnology, said that ambitious students are the main organisers of the initiative, as they want to share their knowledge and skills acquired during their studies.

- 'At my exhibition, you can learn a lot about microplastics, which decompose in the Baltic Sea along with other waste. Many of the aquatic creatures we eat unknowingly eat microplastic particles, which can result in numerous cancers. My stand also includes a microscope, under which you can see human skeletal muscles, the mouth apparatus and the legs of a fly,' - said Patryk Tanaś, a third-year biotechnology student.

fot. Marcel Jakubowski

This year's programme of the Biologists' Night included workshops for the youngest, teenagers and older bioscience enthusiasts alike. The event inspires further exploration of the biological world and encourages us to approach the nature around us with due respect.

Kaja Kuskowska, Oliwia Malczyk, Polish philology, majoring in journalism; photos by Marcel Jakubowski/Press Office UG and Mateusz Rudnicki/IFB UG and MUG