Introducing one of our doctoral researchers: Annemarie Lehr

Lehr performs experiments that can contribute to the understanding and optimization of continuous extraction processes for anti-malaria drugs

January 30, 2022

Annemarie Lehr joined the IMPRS program in January 2020. Her main motivations for joining were the possibility of close connections to other students and the advantages of the joined program by the Max-Planck Institute and the Otto-von-Guericke University. Another main motivational factor was the chance to develop her own soft skills throughout the program. 

In the program, Annemarie Lehr is working at the Otto-von-Guericke University, in the chair of fluid dynamics and technical flows under the supervision of Prof. Thévenin and apl. Prof. Janiga, in close cooperation with the MPI Group PCF under the supervision of Prof. Seidel-Morgenstern. The title of her PhD Project is "Numerical Flow Simulation of a Solid-Liquid Counter-Current Screw Extractor". Within the program, they are observing a newly developed counter-current extraction process to gain the active substance artemisinin from dried Artemisia Annua plants. The substance artemisinin is efficiently used as an anti-malaria drug. Malaria is still one of the most infectious diseases in the world. Especially for children under the age of 5 years, the illness can be deathly. The goal of the research is to understand and optimize the process to decrease the production costs of artemisinin and consequently increase the treatment rates of malaria-infected people. In this extraction process, Lehr is observing the fluid dynamical processes. Therefore, she performs experiments to get more information about the mixing behavior of solid leaves, the liquid solvent, and the material properties of the soaked leaves. With the information gained, a 3-D model can then be built by using computational fluid dynamics (CFD). This computational representation of the process can help to decrease experimental effort for optimization as changing several parameters is very easy.

Within the IMPRS/ OVGU joint program, Lehr said she has got a lot of support and she mentioned that especially the soft skill courses helped her a lot. In general, the soft skill courses alleviated preparing talks and presentations or writing scientific papers. Also, based on a request from one of the PhD researchers there was a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) course organized which is especially helpful for those who are planning a future career in the pharmaceutical industry. She highlighted she thinks it's valuable that ideas of PhD researchers, like the mentioned soft skill course, are trying to be realized. Moreover, she participated in the teaching system at the university, which has encouraged her a lot. 

Due to her main working location at the university, the contact with other researchers is not very frequent, because most of them are working at the MPI. Therefore, she thought, that the annual IMPRS workshop, is a great opportunity to meet and get to know the people in the program. But she also expressed that the corona pandemic makes meeting up in these times quite hard. On a more positive note, she commented that if she needs help she knows who she can contact to get support

Besides, she also enjoys the city of Magdeburg because it is one of the greenest cities in Germany and she likes walking along the Elbe river, (where the Max-Planck-Institute is placed as well). Not only, does she enjoy walking along the river, one big advantage for her is reaching everything on foot in the city center. A big plus as well is cheap and easy to get accommodation. For her, it was particularly uncomplicated because she already had a flat in Magdeburg from doing her Masters at the Otto-von-Guericke University. 

While the program at the MPI and at the Otto-von-Guericke University is very internationally orientated and everything can be dealt with in English, this is not necessarily the case for everyday life in the city of Magdeburg. Therefore, she suggests participating in the German courses which are offered by the IMPRS program for free. 

Lastly, Lehr said she would recommend participating in the IMPRS program because it is a great opportunity to be supported during the PhD while also developing your own personality during this time, for example through soft skill courses, practicing presenting your work, and eventually teaching activities. She expressed that, even if she does not see the other researchers every day, it is possible to build fast connections, and you will have somebody to contact and ask. 

Thank you, for telling us about your experiences so far and your project and we wish you great success with your further research!






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