A lot has happened since my last blog, I have been back to Barcelona for my second secondment and I am more than happy to share everything with you from my first ELISA plate to watching a soccer match for the first time at the Camp Nou Stadium. Let’s start with the work and study. My first year as a FoodSmartphone ESR passed so quickly and it has been a roller coaster ride so far. The secondment opportunities though have been those great moments which make me feel very lucky being part of the project. The aim of these secondments is not only to learn completely new skills and improving student’s career development but also to cultivate soft skills like adaptability and communication by working in a different research group.
I have been here for more than two months now, working on the development of an electrochemical immunosensor for aflatoxin B1. Apart from the electrochemical measurements, the whole antibody and immunosensor realm was totally new to me. I had done some basic studies before starting, but my training has been going as smooth as possible thanks to the wonderful research group here at Nb4D. I learned everything about working with ELISA, immunosensor and magnetic particles. The good news is that we have already developed a magnetic particle-based immunosensor for electrochemical detection of aflatoxin B1 and I am working on the matrix effect and the real sample analysis with the wheat samples. Although our electrochemical immunosensor response is robust and the progress with the real sample analysis is very promising, the several steps and washing process between the steps still remains as the biggest challenge to implement this immunosensor for the final application of the FoodSmartphone project. Therefore, the development of autonomous sample preparation with minimum pipetting will be my new obsession in the coming year.
Apart from the work and the experiments, I used every opportunity to enjoy my free time visiting the must see places in Barcelona which I missed during my short secondment here. The best of them was going to Camp Nou stadium to watch Barcelona match against Real Betis. It was a special experience for me not just because of the Barcelona is one of the Europe champions or because of the Camp Nou is one the largest stadium in the world but because I never even imagined I would enjoy watching a soccer match this much. I never understood how my brother watched a soccer match without a blink while I always got bored before the halftime. However, being at the stadium really changed my view. I wanted the team to win with all my heart and I am no fan of soccer at all. At the end we lost the game, I still cannot say that I am a fan but certainly I understand my brother and other fans now. I should mention that I am really grateful to my daily supervisor Roger who gave us his seats, if not I might never go for it by myself.
Another unforgettable day during my secondment weekends was the aquarium visit. Even though the elegance and beauty of the underwater world are truly mesmerizing, I was more amazed by the kids bursting on excitement, curiosity, and wonders watching the water horse and sharks on the other side of the glass. I regret that I couldn’t preserve that childish spirit and it faded away as I grew up little by little. The most exciting part of the aquarium was the underwater tunnel with the bull shark and the silky sharks swimming around you. The rest of my weekends has been well spent on visiting Gaudi’s masterpieces, Sagrada Família, Park Güell, Casa Mila and last not least Casa Batlló. My Barcelona fun story is going to be finished soon and I will write to you from Switzerland next time. Till then…