RWTH Aachen University Bestows Brigitte Gilles Prize

Preisträgerinnen und Preisträger auf einer Bühne Andreas Schmitter

Female secondary school students of St. Angela school in Düren are learning about epigenetics at the university 


RWTH Aachen awarded the St. Angela school in Düren and the RWTH Teaching and Research Area for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants with the 2017 Brigitte Gilles Prize.

The prize is named after the first women’s affairs officer at RWTH and is given to initiatives that foster student interest in the so-called STEM subjects, namely Science – including computer science and the life sciences –, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Specifically, the project "Back to the roots: Epigenetics macht Schule!" – funded by RWTH and the St. Angela school - was honored. Professor Doris Klee, Vice-Rector for Human Resources Management and Development, recently presented the award.

RWTH biologists, Dr. Eva Reimer-Michalski and Dr. Stephani Baum from the Teaching and Research Area for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology of Plants initiated the project in 2016. Both researchers completed their University Entrance Qualification at the Düren school. They are committed to acquainting girls and young women with scientific topics and to share with them their enthusiasm for choosing an academic career in science. Reimer-Michalski and Baum thus sought out the school's management in Düren and offered them the chance to take part in a project aimed at female upper class students.

So far, teachers Dr. Inge Löbermann, Maria Neuendorf and Janian Groß-Weege and their students have already visited RWTH twice to attend a project day in the field of epigenetics. This is an area of biology, which focuses on factors that determine – among others – the activity of genes. The researchers analyze how plants develop a "memory-mechanism" against pathogens. Epigenetics has now been integrated in the school curriculum. While at school knowledge can only be communicated in a theoretical fashion, by taking part in the project day on the other hand, the students were able to conduct hands-on experiments, such as working with a fluorescence miscroscope and independently performing nuclear extractions.

With the prize money of 2,500 euros, more programs are being planned, for instance for younger female student groups.


Professor Doris Klee, RWTH Vice-Rector for Human Resources and Development (second from left), awarded both the Düren St. Angela school as well as the RWTH Biologists Dr. Eva Reimer-Michalski and Dr. Stephani Baum with the Brigitte Gilles Prize 2017. RWTH Chancellor Manfred Nettekoven (on the left) moderated the event.


Source: Press and Communications