My first PhD secondment in Barcelona, an exciting opportunity for personal and professional growth

Hello there, here comes my story of another exciting Ph.D. adventure, my first secondment, in FoodSmartphone project. It all began, when we discussed the benefits of having a short secondment at CSIC in one of our weekly meetings. I have never had such a great opportunity and just the thought of it was quite exciting. For those who don’t know what a secondment is, to simply put, it is the period that Ph.D. students get to work in another institution to learn more on their project topic and to develop new skills. This provides an excellent platform for collaboration and networking along with practicing your soft skills such as communication skills, adoptability and teamwork.

This secondment was truly a unique experience to learn from and to exchange knowledge with the experts in Nanobiotechnology for Diagnostic group (Nb4D) group at CSIC. As the name implies, the group has the expertise in the development of novel molecular diagnostic tools for clinical and food safety applications. Their research involves the functionalization of surfaces with different chemical nature in order to develop novel immunosensor using antibodies as biorecognition element. From a scientific point of view, I had the greatest chance to work in a collaborative environment, get familiar with the immunosensor development principle, and acquire knowledge on surface functionalization. The training included self-assembly monolayer functionalization of the screen-printed gold electrode for immobilization of amino-modified aptamer, experimental design and the statistical analyses of cyclic voltammetry and differential pulse voltammetry experiments with Prism software. Last but not least, the group seminar on critical steps in the production of polyclonal and monoclonal antibodies was very informative and instructive on the evaluation criteria of the antibody production and how to use less invasive procedures for animal’s right protection.
Apart from academic life, the opportunity to work and live in a new environment definitely nurtured my soft skills such as communication skills, adaptability, project and time management, and so on. Although the scientific training is the most important part of my Ph.D. project, the soft skills could be more useful for my career prospect, when I would have to stand out to get my dream job. Personally, I believe the best way to develop these skills is learning by doing. I am completely aware of the amount of time and effort needed to improve my rather poor level of soft skills. I am ready to invest whatever needed and I am sure that the secondments and conferences opportunities within the FoodSmartphone will be of great help in this regard.

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I can easily say that my secondment at CSIC was the best experience I had during my Ph.D. so far. Although there are numerous advantages of doing a secondment, still there could be some minor challenges. I had no idea, how time-consuming the planning and organizing part could be until I found out that finding the accommodation for such a short stay was very difficult. Fortunately, I managed to book a place with the extremely valuable help of CSIC group secretary. Another challenge was ordering the aptamer and other reagents to be delivered on time to Barcelona. Given the fact that I had the chance to visit Barcelona for the first time, one of the most vibrating cities in Europe, this small bureaucratic stuff seems nothing. I have never felt bored or alone during my stay since the city has a lot to offer from the unique Gothic architecture to its beautiful beach and its amazingly friendly and open-hearted people.

That was all regarding my first secondment experience at CSIC. Until the next blog, next adventure,

Tschüss

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