What’s the applied bit in ‘Applied Zoology’ ?
We don’t do research into improving the sensitivity of this or that test kit, measuring the concentration of this or that drug on this or that disease, or how you can increase the productivity of animals to have higher yield. These are important economic benefits to private companies but taxpayers’ money at universities should not be used for such predictable, incremental scientific progress.
We hope to widely adopt this view in our teaching policy. Students leaving our group after their thesis will be able to think, not to work down page-long protocols. This will soon be done by robots, thinking will not.
So how does our research contribute more directly to society beyond pure research (where the benefits for society are less predictable), if not by bringing in money right tomorrow? Below are a few are examples.
1) We provide data on the 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 // Reinhardt K. 2015. Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde // 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. References: All the papers by Veronika Magdanz //
4) We have proposed a novel way of examining sperm function by examining sperm metabolism. This could easily be applied to human sperm by somebody (not us). References: Reinhardt et al. 2015. Journal of the Royal Society Interface // Wetzker & Reinhardt 2019. Scientific Reports // Guo & Reinhardt 2020. Journal of Evolutionary Biology // Turnell & Reinhardt 2020. Journal of Gerontology //
5) Our work suggests researchers should consider ‘lifestyle effects’ on sperm widely in their laboratory research. It includes data on the effects of ageing of sperm cells, and environmental effects on sperm function and the sperm genome. References: Reinhardt et al. 2015. Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics // Dobler & Reinhardt 2016. Journal of evolutionary biology // Reinhardt & Turnell. 2019. Functional Ecology // Turnell & Reinhardt. 2019. Journal of Gerontology //
6) Finally, our research contributes to obtaining data on the distribution of animals in Saxony. References are here.