“We will be explaining where chemicals come from”

4 mars 2020

Lars Behrendt at the Department of Organismal Biology conducts research on chemicals and environmental toxins using for example fish models; the development of a fertilized Zebrafish egg.

Hi there! Joëlle Rüegg is professor in environmental toxicology at the Department of Organismal Biology and one of the researchers that will be participating in SciFest between 5-7 March at Fyrishov with the workshop Up to Speed on Environmental Toxins?

Joëlle Rüegg is Professor in
Environmental Toxicology at the
Department of Organismal Biology.
Photo: Anneli Björkman.

Is it possible to be ‘up to speed’ on environmental toxins?

“That is a very good question; unfortunately, no. That said, as researchers we may be in a position to convey somewhat more up-to-date information than one might otherwise have. Still, nobody can have enough information and that is why research is required.”

What will be happening in your workshop?

“Firstly, we will be taking a look at zebrafish – which are around 3 millimetres in length – both under a stereo microscope and projected in enlarged images on a wall. Then we will have a video showing the development of a fertilised zebrafish egg over the course of 48 hours. Zebrafish are a very good modelling system for testing the effects of toxins and understanding how chemicals can impact on the environment and the development of vertebrates, including humans.”

Any other aspects of your research that you would like to take the opportunity to highlight at SciFest?

 “To an extent we will be explaining where chemicals come from, where they are used and even what alternatives are available. We can then avoid those chemicals that we already know fairly well are not very good for us, especially for adolescents as chemicals can disrupt our hormonal system, which plays an important role in puberty.

 At the same time, we researchers spend a good deal of time discussing how to achieve the correct balance between informing and alarming. What we want to do is offer alternatives; for example, using glass instead of plastic when taking food with you.”

What are you hoping visitors will take away from the workshop?

“While the field in which we work is extremely important, we also want to convey how much fun it is to study. Personally, I am extremely curious and want to know how everything works. I like the fact that what we see in the lab can be put to practical use in society. We are in a position to speak to public authorities and pass on our discoveries. So, we hope that young people will be interested in the field and want to become environmental toxicologists who can assist us in researching these important matters.”

Learn more:

The workshop Up to Speed on Environmental Toxins? at SciFest:

Do you know just how many chemicals we humans manufacture and use? Do you know where they are and how they affect us and the animals in our environment? This is the kind of thing we study when conducting research in the field of environmental toxicology. Join us to learn where environmental toxins come from and how you can avoid some of them. You will also have the opportunity to look at a few of the models we use in our research, such as cells and fish, and not least compete to find out who is most up to speed on environmental toxins!

Watch the movie from the Environmental Toxicology Lab during the preparations of SciFest

SciFest Programme 7 March