United we stand

Hello and welcome to my fourth blog for the FoodSmartphone project! It has been a busy and eventful period since my last blog. Sahl visited Aquamarijn. I am super happy that he enjoyed his secondment at my home institution. I also travelled for my secondment, to United Kingdom, to learn more about fluorescent microscopy and do some protein fouling experiments. This trip allowed me to further investigate the new bioactive layers that I develop. Javier and Jack were super helpful and there was a lot of discussions about the understanding of the projects of each other and possible cooperation and new ideas.

One of the many cool things about being a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow is the facilitated network of scientists and the many collaborators that come together to work in one project. I strongly believe that you cannot do science isolated. You will say “Why?”, it seems easier when you rely only on yourself and your institution. This seems to be a more controlled way of working and there is more guarantee of success. So Why, why… do we need to cooperate and collaborate?

First, you cannot be an expert in everything. You may be an expert in one field or a couple of fields but the creation of anything challenging and impactful will most probably require expertise of people from many and absolutely different fields and places. So your scientific partners can provide you with advice, technologies and protocols in fields that you are not experienced in.

Second, facilities. Scientific equipment is really, really expensive. Not all institutions can afford to buy particular equipment, and those that can afford it, still have the additional costs of servicing the equipment.

Third, communication and having a fresh set of eyes looking at results. The organization of work and scientific process is different from place to place, from country to country and institution to institution. Thus, travelling to different companies, universities allows you to reflect on your own methods, time management, and approaches to research work organization.

So… we should cooperate and collaborate, this seems to be a solution. Unfortunately, as any relationships which involve more than one entity it requires good communication, good leadership and commitment from the involved sides. Those factors will determine the success the collaborative project.

Probably, one of the best examples of super well-structured cooperation is the cooperation between Aquamarijn and Wageningen University & Research. This cooperation allows us to share equipment, ideas get advice and work together on a common goal. It also a good opportunity for me to see a better part of scientific world by being employed by a commercial company and enrolled in PhD studies at Wageningen University & Research. I can optimize my research process by cherry picking options from both academia and commercial sector. As always, the truth is somewhere in between as probably the most efficient approach for research is too.

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