First of all, I hope that you are enjoying Christmas time with your family and friends. This is the last FoodSmartphone blog for 2017. That’s why the Latin quote as the title or in English “The king is dead, long live the king”. In my view, every end is a new start. However, you have always to think what you did and most importantly learn from your mistakes. In my case, 2017 is a milestone year. The effect of Foodsmartphone project in my life is significant. I moved to a new country, a new lab, learning every day new useful things. On the other hand, I am far from my beloved ones and this is the tough part of the project. Anyway, 2018 is in front of us and I hope to be better a year for all. Personally, I will do my best to progress both as a researcher but also as an individual.
I think my thoughts are enough 😛 . It’s time to tell you, what remarkable happened during these weeks. To begin, RAFA 2017 was a great success for the project and I am really happy for that. During the RAFA smart lab session, I and the Belfast crew (Jordi, Javier, Jack- the 3Js) discussed with fellow researchers and people from the food industry about the FoodSmartphone impact on the field. Prof Nielen and Mr Beek had arranged some screens in order to present the FoodSmartphone ESRs’ videos to the public. These videos are now available at our official YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBfWt4Me3loLy7kJArJnGVg. Our vision on pesticides analysis is available here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQ7smgSBMWA&t=8s. I also had a poster with my preliminary data and a demonstration using my enzyme strips and smartphone for the detection of pesticides.
Also, RAFA was the chance to discuss with Jordi about his idea to develop a system called The Bio End user Sensor Tree or BEST tree. You can find more info about BEST at Jordi’s last blog, https://foodsmartphone.blog/2017/11/03/when-the-dust-settles. I really liked his plan and decided to help him with the development of this database. About a week before, we had good news as Javier, Jack and Philana (PhD Candidate in Queens’ University) are going also to help wit BEST. Hopefully, we will prepare something remarkable.
The BEST tree an interactive platform
The FoodSmartphone ETN exposes the ESRs to different multidiscipline-related environments and provides them with a comprehensive knowledge-base through the network-wide training program. In this way, I went for two weeks training in Nanotechnology for Diagnostics group (Nb4D) which is part of Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). My training was focused on immobilization techniques of acetylcholinesterase on paper. The outcome of this training was very positive as we achieved to immobilize the enzyme using different approaches. I am grateful to Dr J. Pablo Salvador for all the knowledge I gain from him and it will be a pleasure to collaborate again in the future.
CSIC is located in the beautiful city of Barcelona. My fellow ESRs, Klaudia and Raheel, are recruited there and I had the chance to spend time with them. I arrived on the 19th of November and it felt like “summer” for me after six months in Prague. The place was sunny with around 20 degrees and so different from my new home. But at the same time, so similar to Greece. I can say that Catalan-Spanish lifestyle was more than familiar to me. The people were kind, friendly and also look like Greeks. I was thinking that all these connections to my country is due to the Mediterranean climate. However, the visit in the historical museum of Barcelona revealed something that I have not even imagined. Greek colonists founded Ampurias, also known as Empúries (Greek: Ἐμπόριον, Catalan: Empúries, Spanish: Ampurias) in 575 BC. This ancient city was located in the region of Catalonia and it had significant importance. Also just to know, Empúries is the most important Greek archaeological site in Spain and the biggest Greek ruins outside Greece. So, the obvious similarities in the appearance, character and everyday life wasn’t just because of the weather, but also of common genes! I want also to say a big thank you to Prof. M. Pilar Marco and all the members of Nb4D group for their great hospitality. The time I spent in Barcelona felt like home.
I returned back in Prague in the beginning of December. One thing that it was missing from my life all this time was football (that’s why I visited Camp Nou when I was in Barcelona, as you can see in my photos). Football is my favorite sport and I was an amateur football player back in Greece. I started to play at the age of 10 and being member of many teams until June, when I came in Prague. So, six months now I went to the gym or running in the park, but I have not found any team to play. Finally, I found an amateur football team named Dynamo Zizkov. The training field is very close from my apartment so identical to enjoy some free time after lab. I had some training with them and also I played in an 11-side friendly match. It is worthy to say that during the friendly game it was snowing (this is not usual for a Greek 😛 ). I did enjoy it and I hope to play more games in the future.
Right now, I am in Greece for my Christmas holiday relaxing from this challenging year. So, my blog was written one week before, my last day in Prague for 2017. I wish you all ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος με υγεία, αγάπη και δουλειά!!
See you in 11 weeks!