A Relationship with Chemistry

Meet our Product Manager Julian who holds a PhD in chemistry and get inspired by his passion.

OEKO-TEX®: How did your passion for chemistry start?

Dr. Julian Koschmieder: With a love for being outdoors and studying nature. Initially, I pursued biology to understand how nature works. I've always loved animals and plants. I soon realized that, for me, the magic in nature lies in the molecules and various functions within each cell. I was mesmerized by how small amounts of chemicals can drastically affect living cells, both positively and negatively. What truly hooked me on biochemistry and analytical instruments was the opportunity to study in an interesting and relevant research topic under a renowned professor for my Master's and Ph.D. I researched how enzymes in plants (vegetables and fruits) form vitamin A, how herbicides can interfere with this process and how plants store vitamin A. Vitamin A from a plant-based diet is essential for human nutrition. My passion for chemistry grew organically over time. 

What was your biggest aha! moment regarding chemistry?

I don't recall a specific moment; rather, it was a gradual realization as my understanding of biochemical processes deepened. Everything around us is chemistry, consisting of mixtures of solids, liquids, and gases. Most people outside of science aren't fully aware of this. Often, chemicals present in very small amounts, in everyday items like drinking water, food, medicine or clothing, pose significant risks or benefits. To illustrate: some chemicals used in the textile industry are so toxic that even a fraction of a drop can contaminate a million bathtubs of water - to a level that poses health risks. Similarly, there can be tiny amounts of hazardous chemicals in food, medicine and clothing. This made me think: “Wow, that is fascinating and scary at the same time. Developing methods to detect these toxics and working for an institution that supports customer safety would be interesting and meaningful.”

What is, in your opinion, the biggest chemistry challenge in textiles?

Making the textile and chemical industries more sustainable and health-friendly. In past decades, it was easy to use hazardous and cheap chemicals, exposing ecosystems and humans to risks - both knowingly and unknowingly. The damage over time has been significant, sometimes almost unbelievable. Fortunately, awareness and regulations for hazardous chemicals are increasing, leading to more sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices in many industries, including textiles. Organizations like OEKO-TEX® have been pivotal in this transition since the 1990s. I want to contribute my skills to this global effort for the benefit of nature and humanity. 

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