Malaria verstehen / Understanding Malaria at the Long Night of Science 2018

Julie-Anne Gabelich (HU)

Published 18 June, 2018


Der Langenacht der Wissenschaften is a yearly event in which many research facilities open their doors to the general public in order to share the topics on which so many scientists dedicate their careers. The students of the IRTG2290 decided that this year we wanted to make our own malaria themed exhibition.


It was decided we would make a walk-through Plasmodium lifecycle using the structure of Haus 14 as a guide to carry the visitor through each stage. A lot of preparation went into planning the event, and we split up the tasks which included the creation of posters describing epidemiology, defining a parasite and malaria, explaining the mosquito development, as well as videos and slides shows illustrating liver and blood stages of the parasite infection. Julia even took it upon herself to craft a decorative cardboard mosquito to put up in the hallway- in addition to the information sheets and the two posters she had already created, while Theresa created a beautiful diagram of the sporozoite’s journal through the blood stream and into the liver.


The day of the event, guests were already waiting outside the door before we officially opened, and they continued to arrive at a steady pace throughout the evening. Hosting students would guide incoming guests through the journey of the parasite the life cycle, and Francois took the lead with his enthusiasm and energy in this endeavor. It was great fun to see the reaction of guests of seeing the mosquitos in a magnified view, and it was super exciting to see enthusiasm from the guests, especially from a few high school-aged individuals. The hallway contained live examples of mosquito eggs, larvae, and pupae in addition to dissected mosquitos to show the salivary glands in which the parasite develops. In the course room, visitors were guided through liver and blood stages of the parasite in the human host. With a mix of hands-on experiences, videos, charts and microscopy pictures we made sure to have something for everyone. No less than six microscopes were set up, allowing visitors to identify the blood stages of the plasmodium parasite themselves. Many took the opportunity to ask their own malaria-related questions, often leading to interesting conversations about the topic. The visitors were not the only ones who learned new things that night. For those of us not familiar with the mosquito stages, it was a great opportunity to find out more about that part of the life cycle. Others got to practice their communication skills, having to break down complex scientific concepts to a level understandable to the general public. In the end, we had 230 guests visit our exhibition.


We had a lot of fun planning, preparing, and coordinating this event, and we hope everyone who participated enjoyed it as well. I would like to take this moment to give all the participants a huge thank you for making this opportunity possible.