A Dutch Free Spirit

Hello and Welcome to the early-stage-researchers blogs of the FoodSmartphone project! My blog is the last one from introductory and first blogs of researchers in our project. My name is Andriy Kuzmyn, I am one of the researchers that is part of the huge FoodSmartphone project with the ambitious goal to create a simple way to analyze food with the help of smartphones. I am working on the project “Novel non-fouling bioaffinity microsieves for integrated sample preparation”. I have already started working on my project as part of the Aquamarijn Micro Filtration team in Zutphen, The Netherlands. The aim of this part of the FoodSmartphone project is to create a foundation for biosensors – the surfaces and bioreceptor attached to it. My task is to create surfaces onto which random proteins will not stick to, while at the same time this surface should have “plug-in” options for antibody or other bioreceptor to be attached.

I come from Ukraine, and more precise: a city in the west of this vast country – Lviv. The distance from my hometown to Zutphen is around 1300 kilometers. The weather in both places rather similar rain, rain with some breaks between rains.

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The map representation of distance from my Lviv to Zutphen
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View of the city of Lviv from the High Castle Park

My first trip to The Netherlands was rather introductory one. This was my first experience in The Netherlands and I was also travelling to meet my future supervisors and see the labs and get acquainted with everything. My main reason for this trip was the 1st Summer School on Smartphone-based Food Analysis. “What this summer schools is about?” – that was the question asked by Dutch border officer after my plane landed. After my detailed explanation about the project and the summer school, he asked one more question: “When will those devices for food analysis be available?” my answer: “Hopefully in 3-4 years”. After that I got a stamp in my passport and probably more confidence that non-scientific community is already engaged in our research or at least the Dutch border officers 😉.

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In clouds near Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

The Netherlands is an extremely friendly country. The Dutch always smile, and you feel their genuine happiness. I got to live in a small town not far from Wageningen University and Research – Bennekom. The first thing that amazed me was the peacefulness and stillness of the place. It felt like some kind of resort, probably the best place to write scientific papers. Many houses in Netherlands, if not all have large picture windows in the front of their homes. Often those windows have no curtains. I believe it signifies the Dutch view of the world and maybe their more open mindset.

Wageningen University and Research and Aquamarijn Micro Filtration have amazed me by the state-of-art equipment. Aquamarijn creates new technologies for filtration, cell detection and nanopatterning using nano and micro engineering based on microsieve membranes. This is the only private company that is a beneficiary of FoodSmartphone project.

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My Fume hood and just assembled Schlenk line

Amsterdam is an amazing city. Apart from its amazing architecture, the first thing that you notice is the bike traffic, bikes come from everywhere. The city feels different than Bennekom surroundings, there are much more tourists and has a more relaxed atmosphere. Every Dutch person has a bike. I got a bike after my third week of staying here. It is a true joy to use a bike in The Netherlands, bike lines are present almost in every road. Having a bike in The Netherlands is probably one of many freedoms that this country can provide you with 😉.

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Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

The nature in The Netherlands is probably the most amazing part of the country after their architecture. I had a great opportunity to visit the “National Park” (De Hoge Veluwe). If you have a ticket you can use the white bikes that are at the bike parkings, you also can exchange the bike in any parking if you wish😉. The park itself combines different landscapes, a vast forest with almost desert like sand plateaus.

The Netherlands is probably as not any other country embraces freedom and creativity.

Thank you for reading till the end.

Until next blog 👍

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