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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2015 Awardees 2015 (Cohen Award) Jasmina Wiemann

Both, chemistry and paleontology, are running through my academic life like a common thread. While still in high school, I enrolled in the chemical biology Bachelor's program of the Technical University Dortmund in 2007. This concurrent enrolment was funded by an Excellence Scholarship of this university. Focusing on bioanalytical chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry, I attended the university four years concurrent with my entire high school career, graduating from high school (Abitur, GPA 3.9) in 2011. At the same time, I successfully passed almost all exams (with the best grades) which were required for a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Biology and received the Best Student Award of the Society of German Chemists.

After graduation from high school, I enrolled in the Bachelor’s program in Geosciences of the University Bonn, focusing on paleontology and mineralogy. Here I have been working as a research assistant in the X-ray powder diffraction or single crystal XRD analysis and as a teaching assistant in the division of crystallography and crystal chemistry, and in crystal optics, chemistry and general paleontology since entering the program.

To improve my knowledge in high-end techniques in evolutionary biology, I did a four-week internship at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in the working group of Prof. Dr. Tautz, working on how environmental selection pressures affects the phenotypic variability of rodent jaw joints. Therefore I studied with Dr. Schunke, learning how to use TinaTool, MorphoJ and R programming for μCT-based landmark analysis. The publication of our results is in preparation.

To support my interdisciplinary interests, I received a grant as the best Bachelor's student in Geosciences from the University Bonn Honors Program from 2012 until 2014. In 2013, I joined the Sander lab to specialize on dinosaur paleontology by chemically investigating eggshell pigmentation in maniraptoran dinosaurs. In my Bachelor's thesis project, I optimized chemical extraction routines for pigment isolation from fossil material and learned how to use electrospray ionisation mass spectrometry to identify trace molecules from fossil eggshell extracts. To fully understand the implications going along with my discovery of colourful dinosaur eggshells, I also turned my studies from classic paleontology in the direction of molecular evolution and paleoecology after graduating as the best student of the class of 2014 with a GPA of 3.8).

With the aim to combine my chemical knowledge with my fascination for prehistoric life, I started the University of Bonn’s Master program in Organismic Biology, Evolutionary Biology and Paleobiology in 2014. I am going to finish my Master studies in 2016 (summer term). Right now I am extending my field experience (Nevada, Montana). As a part of my Master's thesis, we are collaborating with the Pharmaceutical Department, the mass spectrometry laboratory of the Chemistry Department, and the Life and Medical Sciences Institute of the University of Bonn to investigate the degradation behavior of endogenous, small biomolecules stored in a fossil eggshell matrix and the evolution of birds’ reproductive traits.