My Lab Dog

Text: Alec Michael Wodtke, interview by Armin Himmelrath

What you see there in the corner of my future laboratory is not part of an experiment.

That’s my dog, Twister. He’s a mixed-breed, came from a shelter and has been part of my life since we got him out of there. Even at the University of Göttingen or the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry – Twister is with me whenever possible. Less as a watchdog, more as a faithful companion; I don’t have to have constant discussions with him, as one so often otherwise does in research. But at the moment, Twister, poor guy, needs a lot of attention: he tore a cruciate ligament, and lying around in my office is his version of rehabilitation. Just wish him a speedy recovery – and wish me that I don’t end up lying around like that myself some day. After all, with a little ill will, you could describe my preferred pastime as a high-risk sport: I love riding around the environs of Göttingen on my racing bike. My favourite route takes me through countless little villages to Burg Hanstein in the most northwesterly corner of Thuringia. And on the way back to Lower Saxony I can make a little detour into Hesse: we effectively live in a tri-border area here in Göttingen. Wikipedia claims that this Burg Hanstein was “a popular hiking destination for students from Göttingen” well into the 20th century. That’s not the case anymore: I’ve never yet run into any of my students there. Maybe they no longer go hiking, or maybe they’re just headed elsewhere. One thing, however, hasn’t changed: Göttingen’s students are neat; there are very many talented young people there. And it’s great fun to work with them.