Scientists from around the world attend the FAU Flügel Course
Paleontologists offer unique workshop
Like a string of pearls, the microscopes align in the FAU University Library’s meeting room. Small groups of people stand talking excitedly, others concentrate on their microscopes. They are all participants in the one-week Flügel Course 2017, which due to high demand is offered regularly – twice yearly since 1974 – by the FAU specialist group, Palaeoumwelt of the GeoZentrum Nordbayern. Since then, more than 1,500 participants from science and industry have attended the Course. Attracting such international prestige, the Flügel Course received its name from the palaeontologist and geologist, Erik Flügel. Between 1972 to 1999, he held the Chair for Paleontology at FAU, and from 1974 to 1975 he was Dean of the Faculty of Geosciences, and a pioneer of microfacies analysis.
High scientific level and a friendly atmosphere
In geology, all the characteristics of a rock – which are the result of its origin, such as composition and preservation of the components or the colour – are termed facies. They also occur in the structures remaining after sedimentation, or during weathering. Microfacies are understood to mean all characteristics that can only be seen under the microscope. The analysis of microfacies, especially in so-called carbonates – such as limestones – is the Flügel Course’s core theme. This attracts participants to Erlangen from around the world, such as Italy, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Algeria and even from Oman, Brazil, Chile and Australia. “My lecturer recommended the course to me, mainly for its international character and strong practical approach,” explains one participant.
The Flügel Course is special as participants can bring their own samples to discuss them with the experts present. Despite its scientific credentials, there the Course has a relaxed and friendly atmosphere: “The nice thing about the Flügel Course is that everything is informally run. There is not such a stifling atmosphere as can be the case at other workshops. The scientists listen to us, and the participants collaborate very well,” confirmed a participant. This view is also reflected in group activities in the workshops.
In addition, the international mix brings together participants from different disciplines to exchange ideas. One participant reports: “You meet people here from very different scientific backgrounds. On the one hand, this opens your own work to completely new perspectives, and on the other hand, you can network widely.” The popularity of the Flügel Course is clear from the following example: one participant had already tried three times without success to sign up for the course – it was always so quickly fully booked. Fourth time lucky!