November 24, 2023

Future Groove Slam with FIAS PhD student

The 'ON/NO FUTURE FESTIVALS' of the Heinrich Böll Foundation Hesse on 24 November was all about the next generation. FIAS doctoral student Jonas Elpelt hosted the U20 Science Slam and successfully took part in the "Future Groove Slam".

By just one point Elpelt missed out on the final round of the "Future Groove Slam" at Frankfurt's Haus am Dom. The candidates performed impressive texts to the sound of live improvised music. Elpelt rapped his profound thoughts on the new biotechnological generation, accompanied by electric guitar and drums. Although AI now is able to write poetry faster than humans, he said: "The dignity of man is: incredible!" (citing the German constitution: Die Würde des Menschen ist unantastbar/unfassbar). He endet playing with German words: "Wollen wir die sein - oder die, die designen? Oder einfach nur die, die sind" ("Do we want to be them - or the ones who design? Or just the ones who are").

Prior to this, the 25-year-old moderated the U20 Science Slam, in which four tenth-graders from Marienschule Offenbach presented scientific topics from the STEM field.

Jonas Elpelt is currently working in the research group of FIAS Senior Fellow Matthias Kaschube in the field of theoretical neuroscience. He uses computer-aided data analysis and modelling to investigate the spontaneous activity of neuronal networks and their effects on processes of forgetting. It is not only in his scientific work that he tries to track down the cognitive foundations of creativity; he also devotes his freelance work to the study of memory. Eight years ago, he came to poetry slam, a modern form of poetry competition that began in the USA in the 1980s. In addition to several successful participations in championships at regional and national level, Elpelt now also organises regular events in the Rhine-Main region.

Science slams are derived from the popular format of the poetry slam and describe a competition in which scientists present their research topics to a wide audience within a given time. The origins of the science slam in Germany lie in Darmstadt, where the first such event took place almost 20 years ago.    

"With this form of entertaining science communication, I want to reach an interested audience outside of professional community and facilitate dialogue," says Elpelt. The bioinformatician is convinced that successful research should not only be guided by interdisciplinary collaboration in an academic environment, but also by networked thinking in the context of society as a whole. "I would like to take part in science slams more often in future and make my research understandable and accessible to a wider audience in this way," says Elpelt, who working on his doctorate at FIAS since last year. 

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Jonas Elpelt (right) at ON/NOFuture Groove Slam, accompanied by Heiko Duffner & Micha Jesske. (c) Störiko