Meet 16 Year Old Carina Lämmle, Germany’s Youngest College Professor

Carina Lämmle caught the attention of the dean of the University of Applied Sciences in Biberach when she pointed out the fact that a mass spectrometer, like the one that was sitting on campus unused, should not be left “off for long periods of time,” adding that, “i’s not good for the vacuum pump.” According to Time Magazine, he also told the dean that a piece of equipment like that, which was worth 500,000 euros, is normally not left to gather dust.

The Dean explained to Lämmle that the faculty member who had used the mass spectrometer was no longer working at the university, and they had been searching for a replacement with similar qualifications to hire for the vacancy. Despite the fact that Lämmle was only sixteen years old, conversations led to her interview with Professor Mavoungou, who was completely impressed with Lämmle’s intellectual level and excitement about academia.

Lämmle took an interest in subjects like biology, physics and chemistry from the start of her high school years, plus she liked to participate in other physical hobbies, like tennis, gymnastics and piano playing. In addition to attending high school and participating in her extracurricular activities, Lämmle, from the Upper Swabia region of Germany, has found another avenue to pursue.

Dual Role as Student and Teacher

Now, although she is still only an 11th grader in high school, she also teaches college classes at the university in Biberach. She says that it’s “a little bit unfair…” that she cannot participate in activities that her college students are able to enjoy. While her students can drive to school or hang out in the local disco, Lämmle, at the age of 16, is still too young to partake in any of the fun. She jokes about the fact that students mistake her for a student when they see her on the college campus, and she thinks this is because she looks older.

Professor Chrystelle Mavoungou had quickly spread the word that Lämmle was a “natural-born scientist”, and these boastings packed the auditorium the first time Lämmle presented her a lecture. Mavoungou had also mentioned that Lämmle was an extremely gifted teacher who knew her subject and further complemented the teenager by saying that “Ms Lämmle is also somebody who can keep unruly students under control.”

Lämmle’s First Lecture

Included in the crowd during her first lecture were bachelor of science students who were nearing graduation, in one of their final semesters of their Pharmaceutical Biotechnology program and a flock of fellow college professors, eager to hear what all of the commotion was about.

Lämmle has brought home a variety of prizes from academic competitions, in addition to a grant for the Student Research Center in bad Saulgau. This is where she studied her subject of Massenpektrometrie, otherwise known as mass spectrometry. While few people can even pronounce the word, there are even less who understand the concept of Massenpektrometrie, which measures the ratio of mass to charge of charged particles.

Simplifying Concepts for Pupils

Lämmle has a way of taking complicating concepts and bringing them down to a level that anyone can understand, though. When asked what a mass spectrometer actually is, she replies, “Very simply put, it’s a big box that makes a lot of noise when you turn it on and that enables you to break chemical substances down to their individual components.”

Lämmle is expected to graduate from Biberach’s Pestalozzi Gymnasium high school in less than a year and a half and later attend college classes. She says she intends to work in Mavoungou’s department up until she graduates from high school and that she has not yet planned what she wants to study in college.