Under the tutoring of researchers from IBioBA, students from the German Pestalozzi school developed a methodology to detect dengue vector mosquito species (Aedes aegypti). With this work, they obtained the third place in the Jugend Forscht (‘Young people research’) contest in Germany.

During 2019, Patricio Yankilevich from the Bioinformatics Platform and Sebastián Giusti from the Molecular Neurobiology group of the IBioBA guided the research of senior students of the German Pestalozzi school to be presented it in the Jugend Forscht contest (‘Young people research’). The contest was held in the city of Giessen (Germany) and is considered one of the most important in Europe for secondary students.

Emilia Aguila, Felicitas García and Juan Cruz Suárez obtained third place after having developed a methodology that determines the species of dengue vector mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti) in samples from different stages of development using bioinformatics and molecular tools. “They had a high level of knowledge in biology, so we managed to reach a higher level of complexity and prepare a project that involved answering real scientific questions of interest to society,” says Yankilevich.

This activity is carried out within the framework of an agreement between the German school Pestalozzi and the IBioBA signed in 2012. The preparation of student groups in the Institute to participate in the competitions began in 2016. Since then they obtained third place in the Frankfurt regional contest (2017), the first place in the Düsseldorf regional (2018), the second place in the Hessen-Mitte regional (2019) and, on this occasion, the third place in the Giessen regional (2020).

Regarding these ways of learning, Sebastián Giusti points out that “there is an accelerated cultural change in the ways of learning and these experiences of working together with young boys and girls allow us to know how new generations build and appropriate knowledge”. It is more than anything about “designing better training tools for the next generation of scientists.”

Emilia and Juan Cruz at the Jugend Forscht contest (Giessen, Germany)

Scientists under construction

Restless, curious and focused on preparing their careers. Emilia is attending to CBC (Common Basic Cycle) at UBA (Buenos Aires University) to continue in the Atmosphere Science career. She found it “fascinating” to be able to put the theory into practice, to know the fields of work of science and to be able to experience “the multiple ways in which scientific research can be developed”. She wished “there would be more opportunities for all the boys and girls who want to immerse themselves in the world of research.”

Felicitas, meanwhile, is already enrolled in the UBA Computer Science career although she recognizes her passion for biology and mathematics. While this experience generated feelings of “stress,” she says, during the development of the methodology she felt “lucky”: “I remember with great joy the afternoons we spent in the laboratory learning so many new and fascinating things.”

As a complement to the basic research carried out at the IBioBA, its pillars also include expanding the frontiers of knowledge and contributing to the education and training of young scientists. This agreement is an initiative to invite secondary students to learn about the world of science from the inside, but mainly,    to stimulate scientist´s vocation from the practice. Even when they do not continue to do research, these experiences “contribute to educating citizens aware of the importance of science and its products in society. As a human heritage, they are too important to be only valued by scientists”, reflects researcher Sebastián Giusti.