What’s the applied bit in ‘Applied Zoology’ ?
We certainly do not do research into improving the sensitivity of this or that test kit, or the concentration of a drug, or how you can increase the productivity of animals to have higher yield. Producing such economic benefits is important for private companies but taxpayers’ money at universities should not be used for such incremental private benefits.
This is also reflected in our teaching policy. Students leaving our group after their thesis will be be able to think, not to work down page-long protocols. There are, or will soon be, robots for that.
So where does our research contribute to society beyond pure research (where the benefits for society are less predictable), if it is not to bring in money tomorrow? Below are a few are examples.
1) We provide data on reproduction of economically important animals, wanted in some cases (fish, fruitflies) unwanted in others (bedbugs). Tons of references from our lab.
2) If politics chooses to consider it, our experimental work directly contributes to the discussion of the ethics of mitochondrial replacement therapy, which currently seems to ignore that both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes evolve. References: Reinhardt et al. 2013. Science // Reinhardt 2014. Naturwissenschaftliche Rundschau // Morrow et al. 2015. EMBO Reports // Dobler et al. 2018 Human Reproduction Update.
3) A more unusual application was to provide baseline data on sperm metabolism for sperm that could serve as propelling carriers in cancer therapy research, aka sperm bots, or even in fertility treatment. All the papers by Veronika Magdanz from our lab.
4) We have proposed a novel way of examining sperm function by examining sperm metabolism. This could easily be implemented for human reproduction. Wetzker & Reinhardt 2019. Sci. Reports.
5) Our research made researchers consider ‘lifestyle effects’ on sperm widely in laboratory research, including the development of areas of the effects of ageing of sperm and environmental effects on sperm function and the sperm genome.
6) Our research contributesto estimate the effects of aquatic pollution by endocrine disruptors.
7) Our research contributes to reducing animal testing by examining basic principles of aquatic toxicology tests.