Luiza Wasiewsk has a Bachelor’s in Dietetics and decided to switch her career focus to Food Safety, and completed a Master’s Degree specialising in food microbiology at Wageningen University in The Netherlands. Following this, Luiza undertook a 6 months internship in INRA in France and afterwards accepted a PhD project between Teagasc in Dublin and Tyndall National Institute in Cork on the Development Of A Biosensor For Rapid Detection Of Pathogenic E coli (VTEC) In Beef Using Electrochemical Methods.
Luiza recently took part in the safefood Food Safety Skills Fund Programme. In the report below, she tells us about her experience.
Since my background has focused mostly on food microbiology, initially working with electrochemistry was very challenging. I felt that improving my expertise in sensors development would be highly beneficial for the project and therefore for food safety in general. Having heard very positive feedback from previous participants, I decided to join the summer school in micro and nano sensors at DTU in Denmark. The aim of the Summer School was to get an overview about the current state of art in sensors and biosensors development as well as to get practical experience in sensor development. Even though the summer school was mostly focused on medical application, the methods of detection could easily be translated into food safety perspective as well.
The duration of the summer school was two weeks. Activities included lectures, practical work on sensor development, pitch preparation workshop, introduction to the start-up development and finished with preparation of a poster and presentation by students. The first week was mainly lectures and only an introduction to the practical work, while in the following week the laboratory work was undertaken. I really appreciate the effort of the organisers to not only teach us how to develop a sensor but also how to establish a successful start-up and therefore commercialise the product for the real life applications.
The practical work during the summer school was done in groups. My group consisted of 2 people and our objective was to learn an electrochemical method for detection of antioxidant activity and apply it for detection in real samples. The technique was previously developed by our supervisor at DTU and he was mentoring us during the process. First we modified the electrode and afterwards tested the method in different beverages and pharmaceuticals which are supposed to have high levels of antioxidants like: coffee, tea, wine, ascorbic acid. Surprisingly, we have found the highest antioxidant activity in coffee!
I have found the Summer School at DTU extremely valuable not only for completing my PhD project but also it inspired me to continue working on biosensors development for food safety application in the future. After attending the talks from the world class researchers I got a better overview of what current challenges in the rapid detection are as well as how they could be addressed in the future. I can see great potential in this field and I believe that finding new methods for pathogens detection which are quick, simple and inexpensive should be one of the main objectives for the future of safe and sustainable food chain.
Overall, I would like to say a big thank you to the SafeFood Knowledge Network for accepting me to the Food Safety Skills Fund and therefore allowing me to participate in the Summer School in Denmark. This is a great opportunity for everyone working in food safety area to follow their ambitions and increase their expertise. I am convinced that taking part in this programme will have a positive impact on my future work.