It has been a while since my last blog and a few things have happened in these last couple of weeks about which I am going to tell you now. First of all, on the 6th of May I got back to Barcelona after my 3 month long secondment at CSEM. These 3 months in Switzerland have not only fulfilled, but even exceeded all the expectations that I have had about the country, the people and the work. To summarize my experience, I have not only gained invaluable knowledge on the topics of electrode printing and characterization, but I have also met an incredibly kind and helpful set of people at CSEM to whom I would gladly turn with any problem that I might encounter during the rest of my project, and last but not least I had the wonderful opportunity to spend an entire skiing season in really close proximity of 2-3000 m high mountains (which for someone who has never lived close to mountains was amazing). In my last blog I have already told you about the printing of the electrodes and that I have just begun with my immunoassays on the surface of these electrodes. Even though, in the beginning I had some difficulties with the optimization of my assay on the electrodes, by the end of the secondment I have developed two electrochemical immunosensors based on two different approaches, about which I will talk more in detail during the upcoming summer school.
Regarding my return to Barcelona, (as I have sort of already expected it) I didn’t have the chance of slowly getting back into the routine, since I had to finish a deliverable report during my first week, and I gave a presentation to students from primary school on the following one. But don’t get me wrong, I have no intention to complain at all (even though sometimes it feels really good to do it in order to unwind), I actually prefer when there are a lot of things happening around me and I am faced with new tasks and challenges every day. Giving a presentation to students from primary school was definitely a challenge, since I didn’t just have to present our research group, the FoodSmartphone project and my individual project, but I also had to prepare the presentation in a way that the 12-13 year-old kids would understand it as well. Since usually I am only explaining my research to other scientists or to my friends and family, who are mostly adults and a lot of them have a university degree in science, I had to rethink the whole structure and content of the presentation. Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties I can definitely say that it was worth it, teaching really is one of the most rewarding things in life. Nothing compares to the feeling when you see the observing eyes of children, who are hungry for knowledge and then you can see the little light bulbs lighting up after they make the connections in their heads and understand what you are explaining to them. I hope that besides explaining to them what we are doing here in the Nanobiotechnology for Diagnostics research group and introducing them to the basic concepts of the FoodSmartphone project, I have also managed to inspire at least a few of them to become scientists.
Another nice experience for me last week was the so called Pint of Science festival. This festival has the aim to offer interesting and fun but also important talks about the latest scientific research in a way that is accessible to the public. Furthermore, all of the talks are held in bars, offering a platform that allows people to discuss research with the scientists who carry it out. It is a non-profit organization, run by volunteers, and was created by a community of pre- and postdoctoral researchers in 2012. The pint of science festival is held annually for three days simultaneously in bars around the world. I for example have participated in talks about brain development, neurodegeneration and human gene editing. I think that this event could be the perfect platform for an outreach activity of the FoodSmartphone project next year because we could directly inform the public about our research and also get their feedback and questions.
That is it for now, I hope you are all doing great and I can’t wait to see all my fellow ESRs and get updated on everyone’s research in Belfast during the summer school!