This is the first FoodSmartphone blog for 2019. Firstly, I want to wish to everyone health, love and happiness. Usually, we hope to have a better new year than the one that just finished. In my point of view, we should face each year as a unique one, grab any chance and try to squeeze the best out of it.
Considering 2018, I truly experienced how it’s to be a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) fellow. Stress, reports, deliverables, presentations, responsibilities but also traveling, innovating, gaining knowledge, earning money, working in a multicultural environment. Most importantly, obtaining a PhD is a process that pushes you to think before you act and consider the effects of a potential action. Apparently, these characteristics find also application in your personal life resulting in a more responsible and mature individual. In case that you are not tired of studying and you are motivated to write down a lot, I highly recommend you to submit for a MSCA fellowship. It’s a great chance that can improve your life.
Another important fact is that the project is already halfway through! Consequently, it’s time to publish our progress. Before Christmas, we submitted the paper introducing the so called “The End-user Sensor Database”. This was a joint effort by Jordi, Javier, Jack aka the 3Js and me providing easily accessible information on sensors for
food contaminants screening. A preview can be found in our last newsletter, http://foodsmartphone.eu/pdf/foodsmartphone_newsletter_no4_december_2018.pdf. Also, my paper on acetylcholinesterase assays is almost ready with some final pending revisions and I am looking forward to push the “submit” button in the journal editorial system 😀
My Christmas break was spend in my beloved Athens, being surrounded by my favorite people. One of those days, I visited the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), which is very close from my home. SNF is one of the world’s leading private, international philanthropic organizations, making grants to nonprofit organizations in the areas of culture, education, health and sports. The SNFCC includes the National Library of Greece, the Greek National Opera, the Stavros Niarchos Park and many more activities being a nice choice for a relaxed afternoon. So, the next time being in Athens, have a walk in SNFCC and enjoy this amazing spot.
Moreover, being in Greece during the Christmas time means that you are going to enjoy the country’s Christmas-New Year’s Eve special tradition. Briefly:
- On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, children often go out singing “kalanda”(carols) and playing musical triangles in the streets. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zltbDP07npw
- Except Christmas trees, Greeks also decorate ships, an old tradition in Greece where small ships were put up in homes when sailors had returned from sea voyages
- The main Christmas meal is often lamb or pork, roasted in an oven served with a spinach and cheese pie and various salads and vegetables.
- There are also Christmas sweets like “melomakarona”, “kurabiedes” and “diples” made of honey, nuts and sugar
- Children receive their presents on the New Year’s Eve, which are brought by Santa Claus
Also, during my time in Athens I had the chance to present the FoodSmartphone project to some students of my old high school. The students were about 16 years old, without any chemistry knowledge making this presentation the most challenging that I ever had. Obviously, I didn’t provide technical details but I tried to present an overall description of the FoodSmartphone project and explain that doing a PhD is an alternative working experience. Moreover, during this lecture I better understood Albert Einstein quote “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”. Discussing with such an audience requires to have an in-depth understanding of your field to provide simplified examples and answer any questions. The students also had the chance to “play” with our FoodSmartphone prototype assay and from their reactions I am convinced that in the end of project, in the late 2020, the FoodSmartphone assays will be used by citizens.
Now, I just returned back in Prague. This is my first day in the lab for 2019 and I am trying to “synchronize” with all my duties. In any case, I am totally ready and motivated to perform even better in the second half of my FoodSmartphone project. “The show must go on” ;), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t99KH0TR-J4.
Thank you for reading my blog 🙂