The SAMCAPS Consortium met online to discuss the project advancement, updates on financial status, and the next steps. The next round of workshops will take place in the first week of December, thanks to the support of the speakers who confirmed their availability to organize the seminars through an online platform. Despite newer global restrictions for travel and in-person meetings, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, SAMCAPS research and training activities move forward as planned.
As of this month, ESR1 and ESR2 have moved to P&G Brussels while ESR3 and ESR4 have begun their academic period in Florence. Here are their comments summarizing their experiences in the previous affiliations and their projects for the future.
After 18 months, my first part of PhD at the University of Siena in Italy came to an end. What an experience! I could not be more proud and surprised at what I have been able to accomplish during this period. During my stay at the University of Siena, I have attended several interesting courses and seminars, I created the laboratory where I could carry out my doctorate research, develop and produce environmentally friendly smart materials. Of course, all of this would have not been possible without the enormous knowledge of my supervisors who gladly worked with me and were guiding me through the whole journey. I also cannot forget about the help of my colleagues from the research group. Not only did they help with work, but also were great companions in private life! As the saying goes, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" so I set time aside for fun as well. Every Fridays Aperitivo, eating ice cream on hot summer days, traveling through Tuscany, meeting up with colleagues at piazza del Campo… the list goes on. I am so enthusiastic to start to work on my PhD at industrial institution like P&G in Brussels. I am ready to gain a sense of what it is like to be a part of the working world rather than just a student!
The first 18 months of my PhD passed at the University of Florence, Italy. As an early stage researcher, the experience of being part of a big research group like CSGI was invaluable. I was given the opportunity to put hands on numerous instruments and develop technical skills for my scientific career. Moreover, I developed essential soft skills like working in a big team with many people, learning how to write, present and explain scientific results in different audience or identifying and solving different problems within a lab or a project. I am grateful for everything this experience has given to me. After those 18 months I feel a better scientist but also a stronger person. I will miss the endless beauty of the city of Florence, the nice weather and the delicious food and good wine. Now I am ready for a new beginning in Brussels. I am curious to experience research from the industrial point of view and be part of a big multinational company like P&G. For the remaining period until the end of my PhD, I will try my best to achieve my goals for my scientific and personal development.
As commonly said, time flies! It’s hard for me to believe that I have already spent 18 months with this project. Like any other PhD, it has been a challenging path, with a lot of time spent trying to understand results and answering questions that were generating even more questions. Indeed, science is hard, but rewarding. This first half of my PhD has taken place in P&G, Brussels, where I learnt how research is in a company. Although different from the academical research I was used to, I felt good and enthusiastic in that environment. This period also taught me that I was wrong about the main point of a PhD. It is not only about becoming a proficiency in a specific scientific topic, it’s more about learning how to deal with a project on your own and developing tens of soft skils. From this first stage,I take many good lessons and memories with me, together with some great new contacts and friends. Now it’s time to move to CSGI, Florence, where I will continue my PhD until its defense. I feel very motivated to start this second stage and get to the most fruitful part of the PhD. Moreover, I have only been told good things about Florence and the region it is found in, the Toscana. It will surely be a great personal and professional experience, to which I look forward. Italy, here I come!
It still seems like it was yesterday that we first arrived at Procter & Gamble! It has been 21 months already. I won't deny it, it has been difficult, exhausting, and even extremely frustrating at times. But it has also been filled with so many new learnings and accomplishments. My stay at the Brussels Innovation Center of Procter & Gamble allowed me to develop myself in ways that I believe no other professional experience can in such a short period of time. I gained a lot of confidence in the management of my project as I had to learn how to design relevant experiments, how to prioritize them and how to execute them with integrity. This first part of the PhD helped me understand more deeply how applied research works and what I can expect if I choose to have a career in industrial research. Procter & Gamble also gave me the opportunity to focus on my personal and career developments, gaining and improving valuable transferable skills such as communication, organization, but also interpersonal and leadership skills.
With my head full of good memories, I leave for my new adventures at the CSGI of Florence in Italy. After getting a glimpse at the academic environment last year during my secondment, I am confident that my stay there will be at least as stimulating and rewarding as my time in Brussels. I expect this second part of the PhD to be more focused on fundamental research and help me take my technical skills to the next level. On a more personal point of view, I wish to fully discover Italy's culture and hopefully become proficient in Italian as well! As people say, "the journey is more important than the destination", and I am surely embracing every step of the way.
As the COVID19 infection and death rates decrease, Italy is slowly lifting the restrictions imposed to contain the outbreak. As of today, CSGI labs are open for business on a restricted access basis: 1/3 of personnel, with preferential access granted to young researchers to resume urgent experimental work. Strict safety rules are in place to make sure everyone can work in a COVID-free environment.
This Consortium meeting was held via web-conference due to the current COVID19 pandemic lockdown that is in place in Europe. Despite not being able to meet in person, the Consortium members were able to discuss the most recent scientific updates and to come up with a plan to tackle the COVID19-related challenges. Due to the CSGI and P&G laboratories being temporarily shut down, the ESRs focused on data analysis, literature review, and redaction of the project deliverables due Month 20. According to the project timeline, the ESRs were supposed to exchange locations in Month 20 (May 2020), with ESR1 and ESR2 moving to P&G while ESR3 and ESR4 would start their 18-month period at CSGI; however, due to global travel restrictions, the plan has been delayed. P&G and CSGI are currently extending the respective contracts to the ESRs so that they can prolong their stay at the current affiliations; the end-of-project secondments will be cancelled in order to comply with the H2020-ITN-EID and PhD school requirements to spend 50-50% research time at the academic and industrial partners' respectively.
SAMCAPS students Aleksandra (ESR1) and Constantina (ESR2) just finished their secondment period to P&G. Here are their impressions of the two months they spent at the industrial partner's in their own words.
According to my two months secondment, November and December I spend working in the Brussels Innovation Center (BIC) of Procter and Gamble in Brussels, Belgium. From first day there I felt as a part of P&G team. New working environment, big corporation opened my eyes to many new experiences and ideas as well working style. I have come to realize that with this company I am part of something bigger. Doing my experiments there, which seemed simple to me, turned out to be very important and met with a lot of interest. It was a very good time for me, not only I could learn something new and build my networking, but also share my scientific knowledge acquired at the university. Thanks to all P&G employees, they have done an excellent job of making me feel welcomed and I’ve enjoyed every minute working there.
In November and December 2019, I completed my two-month secondment at the Brussels Innovation Center (BIC) of Procter and Gamble in Brussels, Belgium. During those two months I had the opportunity, for the first time, to meet the industrial sector and perform my research there. I have to admit that this has been a great experience for me. I’ve been given the chance to see how a big company works and how it feels to be a part of this: Big buildings, nice environment, internationality, diversity, inclusiveness! Except of the work part, I personally fell in love with the internationality and the European atmosphere of the City of Brussels: A city that is alive and you will never feel alone while being there!
The SAMCAPS Consortium organized a meeting with their assigned project Officer at the Research Executive Agency headquarters in Brussels. The objective of this rewiew meeting is to assess the fulfilment of the recruitment procedure and possible deviations of the original training programme presented in the Grant Agreement, and to discuss the appropriate corrective actions if necessary. Also, this is an opportunity for the PO to raise awareness on the fellows' and host institutions' rights and obligations, and for the Consortium members to voice their concerns about the progress and conditions of the project. A brief summary of the results acquired so far was also presented and discussed. The Consortium received positive and encouranging feedback from the PO.
On Dec 17th, the meeting was followed by the usual workshop organised by the Consortium. The following seminars took place:
•“Perfume delivery systems” by dr. J. Smets, P&G
•“Consumer good formulations” by J. Billiaw, P&G
On 30th November 2019, our students had participated in the Greenlight for Girls (G4G) event taking place at the International School of Brussels. 300 girls between 7 and 15 years old joined for a day full of science to discover STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects in a fun and exciting way.
The four ESRs, together with other volunteers from the Brussels Innovation Center of P&G, set up two workshops for the girls on Sustainability and Sensoriality. Within the sustainability workshop the girls had the opportunity to put hands on ‘’The Pur’’, a kit created by P&G to purify water in a very simple way, in places without access to clean water (check this link for more info: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qZWMNW7GmE). The girls experienced the process to extract perfumes from plants or flowers like mint or roses within the sensoriality workshop, and moreover they were able to replicate the smell of…coca cola!
This month Constantina visited the neutron and muon source ISIS at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council in Didcot, near Oxford, UK. She was awarded two days beamtime to carry out small-angle neutron scattering experiments on polymer-encapsulated simple perfumes, following a successful proposal submitted at the beginning of her PhD.
The Benelux chapter of the Marie Curie Alumni Association organizes punctual activities gathering MSCA fellows from Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. On Monday 23rd Keo and Xavier attended a chapter meeting regarding “Science and Policy Making”, which included very interactive talks considering the relevance of the scientists in policy making. Among other topics, environmental and climate change, mental health of researchers and European scientific advice mechanism were broadly discussed. This meeting raised their awareness on the important role of science in policy making.
Constantina spent two days at CSGI Cagliari for NMR self-diffusion measurements with professor Sergio Murgia. These experiments are very helpful to investigate the encapsulation of her actives in the polymer systems she is studying. More information about Cagliari University
Aleksandra, Keo and Xavier attended a training in colloidal chemistry held in P&G, given by Björn Lindman and Krister Holmberg. This course was based on the book “Surfactants and Polymers in Aqueous Solutions”, from which they are two of the four authors. Classes covered a general overview of surfactants and surface-active polymers, their different applications in aqueous systems such as microemulsions or solid dispersions, and even environmental and health aspects related to surfactants.
Early this month, the four ESRs took part to the summer school on Microfluidics and surface Rheology organized by the ECIS (European Colloid and Interface Society) conference. The training course took place at the Arenberg Castle in Leuven, Belgium on the 6th and 7th of September. The classes revolved around topics such as: multiphase flows in microfluidics, interfacial thermodynamics, dynamic surface tension in microfluidics, interfacial hydrodynamics, and interfacial rheology at small scale.
The students then participated to the 33rd European Colloid and Interfaces Society conference that took place between the 8th and the 14th of September. Each student presented an individual poster showcasing the scientific results obtained thus far through their PhD:
Biodegradable amphiphilic copolymers for home and personal care products (ESR1)
Self-assembly of amphiphilic copolymers in the presence of surfactants (ESR2)
Soft microcapsules for the confinement and release of active principles in consumer goods (ESR3)
Formation and deposition of self-assembled microcapsules on surface for controlled active release (ESR4)
The poster session was a big success and many people joined the discussion around the ESRs' research.
July 31st, 2019: ESR3 and ESR4 secondment in Florence is complete
Our PhD students Xavier (ESR3) and Kéo (ESR4) have completed their two-months secondment periods in Florence, which began June 1st. Read more about their experience..
June 27th-28th, 2019: Consortium meeting in Siena
The SAMCAPS Consortium met in the beautiful venue of the Certosa di Pontignano, right outside Siena. The ESRs presented an update on their progress. On the second day of the meeting, two invited seminars were held:
•“Investigating translational diffusion by pulsed-field gradient NMR” by prof. S. Murgia, CSGI Cagliari
•“Understanding the physical characterization of capsule rupture and capsule deposition on fabric and hair substrates” by prof. Z. Zhang, University of Birmingham
March 07th-08th, 2019: Consortium meeting in Florence
The SAMCAPS Consortium met at the Santa Teresa complex in downtown Florence. ESRs presented their first scientific results; among other topics, the ESRs' personal career developement plans were discussed, as well as their participation to the next ECIS conference in September.
On the second day of the meeting, two invited seminars were held:
•“Design and modifications of biopolymers, and their use in capsule technology and drug delivery systems” by prof. L. Ambrosio, CNR Neaples
•“Photosensitive microcapsules: shedding light on new benefits” by prof. M. Giamberini, Universitat Rovira i Virgili, Tarragona, Spain
Our students have headed to Vienna for their first international dissemination opportunity, the Marie Curie Alumni Association conference, where they presented a joint poster. Read more to learn about their experience...
SAMCAPS ESRs at the MCAA conference in Vienna.
Left to right: Aleksandra, Constantina, Xavier, Kéo.
December 18th, 2018: First meeting with all ESRs
As of December, all four ESRs are officially hired! They are Aleksandra Zawadka (ESR1) from Poland, Constantina Sofroniou (ESR2) from Cyprus, Xavier Castellvì-Corrons (ESR3) from Spain, and Kéo-Oudone Seymany (ESR4) from France. An informal meeting with their CSGI and P&G supervisors and coaches has taken place at CSGI Florence right before Christmas. A nice dinner followed with everyone having a good time in downtown Florence.
The four ESRs. From the left: Xavier, Constantina, Aleksandra, Kéo
October 26th, 2018: Project kick-off meeting
SAMCAPS is officially on! On October 26th, 2018 the Consortium meets in Siena at the Santa Chiara labs to lay the first bricks of the project. All the work packages have been reviewed, and the partners have agreed on dissemination strategies. Research fellows are being interviewed and will soon be hired. Stay tuned!
The SAMCAPS Consortium at the kick-off meeting in Siena. From left to right: Massimo Bonini (CSGI Florence), Claudio Resta (CSGI Florence), Marianna Mamusa (CSGI Florence), Paolo Tempesti (CSGI Florence), Gemma Leone (CSGI Siena), Claudio Rossi (CSGI Siena), Piero Baglioni (CSGI Florence), Marco Consumi (CSGI Siena), Patrizia Zitelli (CSGI Florence), Agnese Magnani (CSGI Siena), Debora Berti (CSGI Florence), Fabienne DeDecker (P&G), Johan Smets (P&G).