It is summertime and the living is still very busy

Hi there,

Yeah, it is summer.  I have never said that phrase though and I have never been a fan of hot scourging summer day’s back home. I just have a very low endurance in the sun which makes it very difficult for me to enjoy any fun outdoorsy activities in the summer. But it might be different this summer. Here in Switzerland, the weather is not super-hot, still very warm though. Particularly, these days with the start of the holiday season, there are seemingly endless number of people on the train and in the streets with their backpack and hiking stuff providing enough temptation for me to go out and explore the amazing hiking trails and beautiful lakes for myself. Well, that’s my great plan maybe for the end of summer. But not now, now I have to focus on my experiments and as we make more progress, the schedule gets busier and busier.

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Speaking of experiments and my project, I recently participated in the second FoodSmartphone summer school in Prague. The main topics covered by lectures were quality control, quality assurance and validation of screening methods, providing the key points that we should keep in mind while developing our detection assays. We also had the Hands on Lab work to get familiar with mass spectroscopy which is the gold standard for confirmatory food analysis. The most interesting part for me though was the ESRs presentations. This event was a great opportunity for me to get more familiar with other ESRs project, being updated on their progress and share my project progress and challenges. Apart from being the most nerve-racking experience I had so far, I managed the stress of presenting my work in front of a group of expert scientist. After the presentation, we received a very comprehensive feedback from the advisory board on how to solve the challenges and a lot of wonderful collaboration opportunities between the students were discussed as well.

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As training is an important part of doing a PhD, I attended the Lateral Flow Test workshop together with Klaudia and Raheel in Zaragoza, Spain in May. This 3 days practical workshop almost covered all the topics in the Lateral flow Test which a newbie in the field like me was interested to learn from reagents and materials to readers and quantification. Although it was a very intense course and our schedule was busy with a lot of lectures in the mornings and afternoons, being with my fellow FoodSmartphone ESRs, Klaudia and Raheel, made it more enjoyable. The most interesting fact for me was that even though the lateral flow devices are more of a semi-quantitative, the robustness and ease of use are their most promising features for on-site analysis applications. We actually get to produce a working HCG test during the hand on Lab work which was interestingly very easy to do. Although we didn’t have much time to explore the city on our own, the guided tour in the afternoons provide us with a unique opportunity to have some fun. We almost visited the whole city from the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar to Roman Empire remaining and Roman theater. Particularly, our tour guide, Ana had an interesting way of storytelling, making it more fun and exciting while providing more details to deepen our knowledge about the city.

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Wonderful view, flying back to Zurich from Prague

It has been almost a year since I’ve started my PhD in FoodSmartphone. I have learned tones of new things, met interesting people, traveled around Europe, and challenged myself every day. It has been a roller-coaster adventure so far and I hope it will continue to get more amazing in the coming years. Till my next post,

Chao, Chao

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