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The Adventures of Alex and Bioman

Freiburg researchers use a comic to explain the bioeconomy

Freiburg, Mar 13, 2020

The Adventures of Alex and Bioman

Forester dachshund Alex and superhero bioman want to rescue the world from the energy crisis. Picture: Alex Giurca/Markus Herbener

Some concepts are so complex that the best way to explain them is by using simple means. The bioeconomy is one of these topics: it describes the transformation from a fossil-based market economy to an economy where fossil resources are replaced with various renewable bio-based materials. With their comic “Die Abenteuer von Alex & Bioman”, Dr. Alex Giurca and Dr. Markus Herbener from the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Freiburg are hoping to explain the bioeconomy and its complex connections. Their project has won the university competition for Science Year 2020, which is dedicated to the bioeconomy. The award brings with it funding of 10,000 euros.

The comic revolves around the life of forester Alex, a dachshund, who lives in the Black Forest. Together with superhero Bioman, a sawmill owner, a firewood producer and a paper manufacturer, he wants to overcome the evil oil magnate Petrolius and rescue the world from the ensuing energy crisis. Bioman – half human, half machine – is equipped with a high-tech bio-refinery: in line with the concept of the bioeconomy, he can supply humanity with food, energy and industrial products that he manufactures from renewable bio-based materials, bio-waste and recycled materials.

Natural scientists tend to focus on the technical processes involved in the bioeconomy. Their colleagues from social sciences on the other hand are attempting to understand discourses and power struggles between stakeholders from science, politics and industry. Giurca and Herbener want to convey this complex concept to a wide audience. “By presenting the bioeconomy and its many aspects in simple terms through creative storytelling we want to encourage a dialogue between students, teenagers and young adults,” says Giurca. “We’d like to establish the comic as a creative and humorous scientific format,” adds Herbener.

On 13 March 2020 the team published the first pages of the comic on the Internet. Over the next weeks another page will be released each Friday. Anyone who is interested can collect the entire comic book for free in digital form until the end of November 2020. In addition, the Freiburg researchers are planning scientific lectures on the bioeconomy and humor in science, a workshop on the use of comics and strategic visualization in science communication, and an exhibition on the history of comics. To do this they are drawing on the expertise combined in the Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources: Alex Giurca wrote his PhD on the bioeconomy at the Chair of Forest and Environmental Policy, Markus Herbener teaches at the Chair of Forest History on ,amongst other things, the history of resources and the environment, its societal perception, and environmental education. The University of Freiburg is involved in the “Bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg” research program, which was established in 2013 by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the Federal State of Baden-Württemberg.

Together with the “Wissenschaft im Dialog” initiative, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research selects the annual theme for the Science Year. The university competition allows students from Bachelor to PhD and young researchers from all areas to develop their ideas on how to make their research comprehensible in an interactive way.


Website of Alex & Bioman

University competition

Bioeconomy in Baden-Württemberg research project


Dr. Alex Giurca
Chair of Forest and Environmental Policy
Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Freiburg
Tel.: +49 761 203-8484


Dr. Markus Herbener
Chair of Forest History
Faculty of Environment and Natural Resources
University of Freiburg
Tel.: +49 761 203-8490