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May I introduce myself?

 

My name is Gabriele Kerber. I’ve got a PhD in biology, am a writer, trainer, speaker and obsessed with the oceans. Photo: Jo Swarzynska

I grew up at the North Sea, but my real home are tropical and subtropical islands of volcanic origin. How that happened? That’s a long story…

Once upon a time – in the year 1991 – I started to study biology at the Justus-Liebig University in Gießen, Germany. Why biology? Because I wanted to become a science journalist and biology seemed to be a good place to start. But then the brain got in my way. During a histology class, I completely lost it while looking at a piece of guinea pig cerebellum through the microscope. Thinking: „Either I've gone completely nuts or I found what I want to work with in the future!”. Though I never excluded option one, I specialized in neurobiology and also got my PhD in that field, working at the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology at Martinsried (Germany).

At the Max Planck Institute I finally got hooked. At least concerning giving talks. That actually was my boss’s fault, Professor Georg Kreuzberg. While practicing a talk in the darkroom (the meeting room was occupied, and this darkroom was the only other room with a slide projector) he shouted at me, arms raised, red light from behind illuminating his white hair, making him appear like Mephisto: “Gabo, you'e got a story! Tell it!”. And that was what I did – enjoying how the audience of our in-house seminar was literally hanging on my every word and my story about Laminins.

The next few years I spent between Mediterranean Sea, Dead Sea and Red sea: in Israel at the Weizmann Institute of Sciences in Rehovot (2000-2003). Additional to molecular biology and Hebrew (which I forgot again), I learned to love the desert and to live in a terror-ridden country. Because these were the years of the Al Aqsa intifada. When the second golf war started, I left Israel and was incredibly lucky to spend the following year on an especially quiet and exciting archipelago: Galapagos (2003-2004)! Where ocean and lava streams meet, where El Niño and La Niña expose an extreme landscape to extreme climate fluctuations, where 1.000 km of water separate animals and plants from their continental conspecifics and evolution shows itself from the most conspicuous side, I fell in love with volcanic islands! The species-poor lava desert was complemented by an amazing diversity of marine life. At the Galapagos islands, I learned to scuba dive and to share my knowledge and enthusiasm for the environment with tourist groups in my role as science tour guide. I wanted to infect everyone with this “ocean-love“-virus. And in many cases I succeeded.

Returning to middle Europe was hard - I missed the oceans, the snorkeling and diving, the amazing ecosystems in and above water and the warm weather. But it still took several years and a trip to Hawaii, before I started to write about marine sciences and to make explain-it-all videos about the oceans. But then, in 2012, my first blog, Amocean, was born. Ocean knowledge for everyone in German and English, everything about oceans and climate. This blog opend doors for me to other publications and thus to close the circle: a 20-year detour let me return to science journalism, which I once had given up for a guinea pig brain.

Those 20 years let me gather a lot of experiences, let me get to know many countries and people, and let me revisit a variety of topics from a lot of different perspectives. Additionally, I learned to design and deliver courses and various kinds of learning/teaching events in two fields: not only for oceans and climate, but also for my bread-and-butter job. Since 2006 I am working as a trainer and consultant in telecommunication technology.