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SciComm-Award for the People who created Plants and Pipettes

Joram Schwartzmann (left) and Dr. Tegan Armarego-Marriott at the Potsdamer Science Days 2019 (Potsdamer Wissenschaftstage). Photo: Armarego-Marriott
Armarego-Marriott and Schwartzmann received the SciComm Award 2023 online during the 36th Molecular Biology of Plants Conference in Hennef, Germany. Photo: Jose Ugalde
The awardees Schwartzmann (top left) and Armarego-Marriott (bottom left) received the prize from Prof. Stefan Rensing (bottom right), the speaker of our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB). Photo: Jose Ugalde

Dr. Tegan Armarego-Marriott and Joram Schwartzmann receive this year’s SciComm–Award for founding the web-based platform Plants and Pipettes, where they blog and podcast about current results in molecular plant science in a witty and informative way. As Schwartzmann puts it; “We like to shed light on scientific publications that we find interesting and that are or were not part of our own, more narrow research focus”. Articles on the blog for example include: “My bees bring all the sugar to the flower” or “The Algae Expert who helped Crack Code in WWII”. The scientists of our Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology Section (SPPMB) want to award their science communication (in short: SciComm) and their talent to explain complicated facts in clear sentences, without over-simplifying the contents. In one of their recent podcasts, “Party of Pokers” they for example introduced underground orchids, microplastics in phytotelmata and bioaerosols over the amazon, and underlay this – as in other podcasts - with acoustic backings.

Armarego-Marriott and Schwartzman became close friends while studying at the Max-Planck-Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam. As early career scientists they founded the Plants and Pipettes platform as part of their desire to go beyond their PhD student ‘day jobs’, to read, write and talk about the wide and fascinating range of plant science, and practice their creative skills in blogging, designing, drawing and podcasting. Ultimately, they hope that Plants and Pipettes can help highlight plants’ role as “an absolute requirement for our continued survival”, and encourage people’s interest in plant science, while also discussing other topics relevant to plant science, such as the need to consider biases and to value diversity.

Armarego-Marriott studied conservation biology and biochemistry before she moved to Potsdam and now works as an editor for a scientific publishing house. Schwartzmann also worked in Potsdam, became a father of two, worked for PLANT 2030, a BMBF-funded agency that covers applied plant research in Germany, and now is working for the Prototype Fund, a BMBF-funded NGO to support open-source software development. In 2019 he won a price for his German video explaining gene editing with the CRISPR-Cas9 technology in the online-competition Fast Forward Science.

Both received the Section's third award for excellent science communication on 8th February 2023 during the Conference Molecular Biology of Plants (MBP2023) of our Section Plant Physiology and Molecular Biology (SPPMB) of the German Society for Plant Sciences (DBG).

-> photos of the awarding ceremony