Harvard – the Big Goal

Sebastian Stark has been researching for his master's dissertation at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His stay in Boston has been made possible by an Otto Bayer scholarship.


In 2014, the Bayer Science & Education Foundation enabled 51 students from 18 countries to study abroad. Bayer magazine visited two scholarship students. One of them is Sebastian Stark. For the past few months he has been researching for his master’s dissertation at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. His stay in Boston has been made possible by an Otto Bayer scholarship.

Sebastian Stark is 24 years old and comes from a town near Frankfurt, where he is studying chemistry at the Goethe University. When he arrived in the United States he wasn’t sure whether he would be able to keep up with the pace at Harvard. But now he realizes that his education in Germany prepared him well. “The Goethe University is a good place for life sciences, but the Broad Institute provides an incredibly stimulating scientific environment. If I had to describe it in a single word, the word I would choose would be collaboration – because people work together really closely here, across all the boundaries of the research groups,” Stark explains.

Sebastian Stark: Studying in Harvard

It took the Bayer scholarship student just one week to find his feet. “It’s easy to get to know people here,” he says. He shares an apartment with other students and researchers: two from Japan, one from Brazil, one from Russia, one from Turkey and one from Germany. “It’s a really nice international mixture, and we also discuss our research projects,” he says.

The Broad Institute, where he is carrying out his research, is a collaborative biomedical research institute that brings together researchers from Harvard University, the Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “I spend most of my time by far in the laboratory,” Stark says. He also attends lectures at Harvard and MIT, including some that aren’t directly related to his subject. He has already run into several Nobel laureates in the process! “You can just feel that you have your finger on the pulse of science here,” the scholarship student enthuses.

Sebastian Stark

You can just feel that you have your finger on the pulse of science

Before Sebastian Stark went to Boston he joined working groups and immersed himself in publications in an effort to identify an area of research that really appealed to him. At the Broad Institute he found a professor whose research was a very close fit with his own interests. He then looked for a scholarship to support him during his one-year stay in Boston. “The Otto Bayer scholarship was the only one that totally suited my research project because it can be adapted to the circumstances of the stay abroad.”

Sebastian Stark hopes that his research will make a contribution to developing new approaches in cancer therapy. “Later I’d like to work in medicinal chemistry, in drug development in the widest sense of the word, because that’s something I can do both in the industrial setting and at university. The Broad Institute here is a great example of how both areas can work together successfully.”

Eine Investition in die Zukunft

Passion, inquisitiveness and a spirit of discovery are important characteristics in a research scientist – which is why Bayer supports scholarship students not only financially but also through an alumni network.

Who can apply

The Bayer Science & Education Foundation offers a customized Fellowship Program to enable talented young scientists from Germany and abroad to pursue specific study and career projects.

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Support is awarded to the following individuals:
1. Applicants from Germany who want to pursue a particular study or educational project abroad, and
2. Applicants from abroad seeking to pursue a project in Germany.
Applicants should have good grades at school and university and, most importantly, a pioneering spirit and a personal project that they would like to implement in partnership with the Bayer Foundation.

What subject areas are supported?
1. Otto Bayer scholarships are intended for students in the natural and engineering sciences.
2. Carl Duisberg scholarships support students of human and veterinary medicine.
3. Kurt Hansen scholarships are awarded to students training to teach natural sciences.
4. Hermann Strenger scholarships are intended for apprentices and young people in non-academic professions involved in engineering, natural sciences and healthcare and in commercial positions.
5. The Science Teens program enables particularly keen high school students to take part in selected scientific and technical summer camps.

What activities are eligible for support? And for how long?
Internships, training courses, pharmaceutical experience, a semester abroad, research projects, diploma and master’s dissertations and doctoral projects. Regular support for studies in Germany and support for projects that have already been concluded cannot be given. The Foundation provides support for up to one year.

How much financial support is provided?
The support provided should cover living expenses, traveling expenses and costs associated with the project. Each applicant can submit a personalized cost schedule which the scientific committee uses as the basis for its decision.

How can applications be submitted?
Applications can be submitted online. It is vital for the following to be attached to the application: passport photo, evidence of linguistic ability and letter of confirmation from the receiving institution abroad, and certificates of education.

Where is further information available?
By calling: + 49 (0) 214 30 41111
On the internet at: www.bayer-foundations.com
Contact: scholarships@5b05fb08aeab42b98b462ea287ebf412bayer-stiftungen.de

Milena Tryfon: A passion for research

Milena Tryfon has put a lot of effort into achieving her dream. She traveled from her home town, Lochów, to the Polish capital Warsaw, where she took the long-distance bus to Germany. She had been traveling for 22 hours before “Aachen” appeared on the motorway signs for the first time. Finally – Aachen, the place where she would be studying biomedical engineering. “No journey would have been too long for that,” says the young woman resolutely. “Being able to do my master’s degree here is a unique opportunity for me.”

<strong>Milena Tryfon</strong> Stipendiatin an der Rheinisch-Westfälischen Technischen Hochschule in Aachen.

Milena Tryfon scholarship student at the RWTH Aachen.

Milena Tryfon has been studying at the RWTH Aachen since the fall of 2013. This opportunity was made possible by an Otto Bayer scholarship sponsored by the Science & Education Foundation. It doesn’t just support upcoming German scientists who want to study abroad – young scientists from other countries who want to study in Germany can also apply to Bayer for a scholarship. “I absolutely wanted to come to Aachen because the standard of scientific education is very high,” says Milena Tryfon. After she had gained a bachelor’s degree in biotechnology, she started looking for a way of funding further studies, and came across the Otto Bayer scholarships. “I thought it was a good opportunity and worth trying out, so I applied for a scholarship,” she says. She could hardly believe her eyes when her application was accepted.

Milena Tryfon

I absolutely wanted to come to Aachen because the standard of scientific education is very high.

Milena Tryfon soon made herself at home in Aachen and is delighted at the standard of research at her new university. “It’s really exciting to be right at the cutting edge,” she enthuses. Students are in close contact with the professors, making an intensive scientific exchange possible. “It feels really good to be treated as an equal,” she says. She is studying biomedical engineering, and she is learning to develop technical devices capable of supporting or replacing parts of the body and organs. These include prostheses, hearing aids and mini-pumps for the heart or kidneys. “When we make artificial skin or muscles, for example, it looks like science fiction on first sight,” she says, and has to laugh. “Actually it looks like science fiction on second sight, too.”

The Otto Bayer scholarship is enabling Milena Tryfon to focus on her excellent university education at the RWTH Aachen, and to experience a personally enriching time too. “It’s great that I can meet so many people from all over the world here and improve my intercultural skills,” she enthuses. “My course is very international, and I’ve already learned a lot from my fellow students about other cultures.” They all speak English, and Milena Tryfon is making use of the opportunity to improve her language skills. “That’s another way in which the scholarship is improving my chances on the international labor market.”

Milena Tryfon: “My adventure in Germany”

But Germany consists of more than just campus life. The student wants to use the scholarship to get to know the country, its language, its culture and the mentality of the people who live there. That’s why she has signed up for a home stay – an opportunity to spend two weeks with a German family. “I can experience their everyday life and learn a lot about the way people live in Germany,” she explains. Milena Tryfon is also taking part in the “Europa macht Schule” program to give people in Germany a chance to get to know her home country, Poland, a bit better. She will be presenting a project about Poland to a class in a German school.

The Otto Bayer scholarship has opened up a number of new possibilities for her. She has become more open to other cultures and plans to visit a lot of other countries too. “Who knows,” she says. “Perhaps I might visit my fellow students in their home countries. That would be a big adventure for me.” But for the time being, she’s happy to be adventurous in Germany.

Thimo V. Schmitt-Lord

“Our objective is pioneering achievements – on all levels of society,” says Thimo V. Schmitt-Lord, Managing Director of the Bayer Foundations

Committed to progress

Interview with Thimo V. Schmitt-Lord, Managing Director of the Bayer Foundations

What is the idea behind Bayer’s involvement in foundations?

The Bayer foundations have been promoting the spirit of innovation as a route to success and a secure future since 1897. That means we need inquisitive and creative scientists who are prepared to work hard. This is the background against which the Bayer Science & Education Foundation supports both ambitious young scientists and outstanding established researchers. We also have the Bayer Cares Foundation which takes the same approach, but in a different sector. It promotes innovation and pioneering achievements in the social welfare sector and in civil society.

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How can a foundation promote a spirit of innovation in young people?
There must always be a way for major success to grow from small beginnings. This is why the Bayer Science & Education Foundation supports projects that carry the pioneering spirit and enthusiasm for technology into the classroom. On the next level – at universities and in vocational training – we systematically continue our support for pioneering achievements, helping talented, keen students to implement special study and training projects in other countries.

How does the Bayer Science & Education Foundation support elite researchers?
The Science & Education Foundation awards valuable scientific prizes for outstanding achievements by leading-edge scientists. The Otto Bayer prize, for example, is awarded for ground-breaking research in chemistry and biochemistry. Pioneering achievements in basic medical research are honored with the Hansen Family prize. The “Bayer Thrombosis Research Award” is conferred on talented scientists involved in thrombosis research in a German-speaking country. And leading-edge young scientists working in the fields of biology, chemistry and materials are honored with the “Early Excellence in Science Award”. All these prizes are awarded for scientific excellence and – this is the decisive element – new approaches. We’re looking for pioneers capable of opening new doors into unknown territory.

What approach does the Bayer Cares Foundation take?
The Bayer Cares Foundation supports individuals in the social welfare sector who are trying to make the world a better place, such as volunteers who are helping to overcome the major challenges facing society today. It also sponsors the Aspirin Social Prize worth EUR 35,000 which is awarded for innovative support and advice services that fill gaps in the provision of healthcare. In addition, the Bayer Foundation organizes wide-ranging reconstruction projects in the wake of natural disasters. In 2011, for example, we worked with Caritas International to build a provincial hospital in Haiti, and we are currently organizing field health centers in the Philippines in collaboration with the Red Cross.