I hope that you are all doing great, enjoying the last weeks of winter and are looking forward to spring, which in my opinion is one of the most productive times of year for a researcher.
Wageningen (Mid-term meeting)
As some of my fellow ESRs have already mentioned, two weeks ago we have all (everyone involved in the FoodSmartphone project and two EU project officers) met in Wageningen for the official mid-term meeting of our project. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the meeting itself, I just want to say that first of all it was a really great opportunity to meet all the ESRs again (happy to have met Ariadni and Julian for the first time) with all their supervisors and discuss about everyone’s research and possible collaborations, which is always very inspiring. On the other hand it made us realize that we have to focus more on looking at the project as a whole instead of just looking at our individual tasks. We also have to think about our responsibilities as scientists towards the people of the public. We have to keep in mind the future impact that we want to make in the food safety industry and more importantly we have to work more on the communication of our research to the people by making them aware of the fact that in a few years food testing with the help of a smartphone will indeed be possible. I know that this could be a difficult and challenging task, but one of my goals for the coming months is to raise more awareness to our research. Similarly to some other ESRs I am also planning on going to a school to explain the FoodSmartphone project to students and I want to participate in other type of outreach activities as well.
Sightseeing in Amsterdam
Speaking about outreach activities, at the end of February, right before the mid-term meeting I have attended the General Assembly and Annual Conference of the Marie Curie Alumni Association in Vienna with some of my fellow ESRs, Safiye and Andriy. During the two day conference we had the opportunity to attend to several lectures on various different topics such as: Mentoring and Outreach, Career paths for researchers, Proposal writing strategies, Mental health of researchers, Branding yourself as a scientist, How to build a start-up, and many more… Most of the time I had the problem that I couldn’t choose between the different parallel sessions, all of them seemed really interesting. During the conference I also had the opportunity to meet with the people of the MCAA Spanish-Portugal Chapter. For those of you who were not aware of this yet, most countries/regions with Marie-Curie fellowships have an assigned leader, who is in charge of gathering the current and also the previous Marie-Curie fellows in that country/region, to organize scientific and social events, to make them aware of all the rights and opportunities that they have as fellows and also to help them with any question or difficulty that they could be facing within their host country. It was really nice for me to connect with other fellows from Barcelona and to hear about their research projects. (So for those of the FoodSmartphone ESRs who haven’t done it yet, I highly recommend it to get in contact with your local chapters.)
Vienna – MCAA Conference and General Assembly
Regarding my research, right now I am spending my secondment at CSEM in the beautiful country of Switzerland. It is not only the beautiful landscapes, the majestic mountains and snow-covered pine trees that make this place so special and magical to me, but also the fact that I have the opportunity to work here and learn all things that I have been missing about electrochemistry. The main objective of my secondment is to print and characterize different carbon-based (and maybe in the future also gold) electrodes and afterwards to build up my assays for pesticide detection on the surface of the “chosen one”, the one that has the best electrochemical properties. Apart from learning how the three different layers (reference electrode, working electrode, dielectric layer) of the electrodes are printed (I still can’t get over the fact that I got to print my own electrodes:) ), it is also interesting to see how the different nanoparticles that we are mixing in the ink of the working electrode or dropcasting on the surface of the working electrode are influencing the electrochemical properties of the electrodes. It has taken a lot of time to do all this characterization, but this week I finally began with the immunoassay on the surface of the electrodes (desperately hoping for reproducibility…:D) and I am actually writing this blog during the incubation times of my experiments, since I want to generate as much data as possible in this limited amount of time and that of course means non-stop experiments…(I am sure many of you can relate to those days in the lab when every spare minute is valuable.)
Chur, my beautiful hometown for the secondment
Discovering the ski slopes of Graubünden
So that is it for now,
I am wishing you all the best,