On Dec 3, 2018 Ivo Leito gave a presentation at the Sample Treatment 2018 conference (Caparica, Portugal) about the EACH programme and specifically about how is sample treatment included in the EACH programme.

A key feature of the presentation was a question to the participants as for what else could/should the EACH programme contain in terms of sample preparation, especially keeping in mind emerging techniques. Another one was a call to come to teach at EACH as visiting scholar. During the subsequent coffee breaks a number of people approached Ivo and interesting ideas were proposed as to what to include into the programme’s set of covered sample preparation approaches (dialysis, different microextractin techniques, sonication, etc). Several people also expressed interest to contribute to the programme as visiting scholars.

Call of applications to the EACH visiting scholar scheme is constantly open at the EACH Visiting scholars page and submitting of application is non-binding, so it is encouraged also if you are not yet sure whether you will come.

We are thankful to all participants for their feedback and ideas!

 

“Long may bicycle rain”

“Welcome to Uppsala, the city of nature, student nations, unique tradition and a place where you can not survive if you don’t have a bicycle” is the sentence that we heard several times when we arrived in Uppsala. At first sight, it was similar to Tartu, but at the same time so different in many ways.

Even though I thought that it was an exaggeration, it is true that a life in Uppsala depends on a bicycle. As we were living in student accommodation Flogsta, surrounded by the forest, and since the city transport was too slow, riding a bike was the best way to get around the city. Except when the snow starts to melt, then it’s a nightmare from which, fortunately, you wake up quickly.

 

Work, work and more work

Biomedicum (BMC) as a part of Uppsala University, was the place where we spent every day from the end of August until the end of December. The building is so big and confusing that at first, we needed a map to find the lecture rooms. Yes, you read correctly, a map! The concept of studies was different from the University of Tartu. At Uppsala University we were studying one course at the time, so when the lectures were finished, the fun and the real work started. Intense lab work where some of them included a fieldwork with collecting samples, and writing the reports were our everyday routine. If you haven’t experienced soil and water sampling while the rain is pouring, then you will when you come to Uppsala to study chemistry. We knew the importance of sampling in analytical chemistry, but one thing is to study how it should be done and something completely different when you get to perform it, that is when you really remember it. If you add on top of that a rain and a group of students running around the city with muddy boots, you get the day that it will be very hard to forget it.

 

I think that everyone will agree with me when I say that the most interesting part was the time spent in the lab and with the instruments. Put an analytical chemist in the room with HPLC, GC or MS and he will be the happiest person alive. The thrill of preparing your samples and organizing your work, the confusion of getting the results you didn’t expect, the rage when the instrument just decides that it won’t work when you need it, and the happiness when everything makes sense at the end, are just one of the emotions that we felt like a scientist to be.

When work is finished, you put a lot of clothes on you, ride a bike through icy road with an attempt not to fall, head back home and dive into writing the reports. If we were effective and fast, which we were, of course, our free time was reserved for the preparation of exam. You are probably asking when the sleep in our schedule was. You know the saying that sleeping is overrated, well while studying in Uppsala we proved that hypothesis. 3-4 hours per day in your comfy bed and a daily dose of caffeine are simple enough.

 

Now all of this will sound scary for future EACH students, but not everything is black and white. If you really love bioorganic analysis and analytical chemistry, the experience that you will gain during your time at Uppsala University is unreplaceable and it is worth the effort. Additionally, all of this can help you to realize your strengths and flaws and to decide if the analytical chemistry is something that you really want. In the end, nothing is going to come to you on a silver plate. If you want it, you must work very hard for it.

 

Near Stockholm

“The Venice of the North” is the nickname that Stockholm definitely deserves. One of the advantages of Uppsala is that it is very close to Stockholm. Since we couldn’t travel as often as in the first year, a short trip to Stockholm was our biggest attraction. Even though that it is one the most expensive cities that I have been to, it is a great feeling to walk through the streets that are surrounded by water and beautiful parks. The boat ride is the best way to get away from stress, to turn off your computer and just to enjoy the nature and the spirit of Stockholm.

 

Life after EACH and job perspective

 

The University of Tartu gave me a good background of analytical chemistry while at the second-year university (Uppsala University) I got the chance to acquire knowledge in bioorganic analysis. For me, the EACH programme represented the first step forward in my carrier as an analytical chemist and now I am working as a researcher in CIPF Polymer Therapeutics Laboratory (Centro de Investigación Principe Felipe) in Valencia, Spain. This job position came as a result of my master’s thesis which I successfully performed there and defended at Uppsala University. Simultaneously, while working as a research assistant I will be pursuing a Ph.D. degree in chemistry at the Polytechnic University of Valencia. The focus of the project will be the development of analytical techniques for better characterization of polymeric drugs, for determination of polymeric drugs in biological samples and for better understanding the faith of polymeric particles once administered in the body.

Generally, as EACH alumni, I can say that it is not hard to find your place in the scientific world. Your CV is not only enriched with a master’s degree but also, with an international experience that makes you unique among others. The only thing that I have to mention is that in case you want to stay in Europe, but your residence is outside of the European Union, there is a much higher chance to find a Ph.D. project than a job in the company. The reason is just pure bureaucracy and not your expertise that you have after this study programme.

 

“Keep calm and study analytical chemistry”

 

Every moment of these two years, every breath I took in Tartu and Uppsala, every exam, every presentation and group work taught me something extraordinary. It taught me patience, and how to approach my craft. It taught me about collaboration, experimentation, risk, friendship, and empathy. There were the days where I couldn’t stop laughing, and nights when I wished I could have been sleeping in bed, instead of studying and writing the reports, but somehow, we made it through and we had fun even then. And if I got the chance to go back in time I would, with no doubts, choose the EACH programme again.

 

Snežana Đorđević

Today, On Nov 16, 2018 the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) unanimously decided to fundamentally remake the SI system of measurement units. Perhaps the most important change is that the kilogram will not be defined via a physical artefact – the platinum-iridium cylinder – but in terms of the Planck constant. As a result, for the first time the entire SI system will be defined entirely on the basis of fundamental constants, which has been the aim for decades!

The change will become effective on the 2019 World metrology day – May 20, 2019.

More information can be found in the post CGPM votes unanimously to change the SI by Dr Steve Ellison at the Eurachem website.

(Image: Wikipedia)

 

EACH_Erasmus_Mundus_JMDWe are glad to announce that the 2019 admission is officially open to the 5th intake of the Excellence in Analytical Chemistry (EACH) Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree programme!

This international two-year joint master degree programme educates specialists in analytical chemistry well qualified to work in industry (food, pharmaceutical, materials, energy, etc), chemical analysis laboratories (environment, food, health, etc) and research (developing new analysis devices or new analysis methods) worldwide. EACH provides knowledge and practical skills in both fundamental and applied aspects of modern analytical chemistry. Practical internship placement in industry or laboratories is an important part of the training.

The programme is suitable both for students who have finished their bachelor’s studies and want to continue in master’s studies, as well as for working analytical chemistry practitioners wishing to spend couple of years to bring their knowledge and skills to a new level.

The programme features generous scholarships as detailed in the Scholarships and tuition fees page.

The programme is taught by four universities: University of Tartu (UT, coordinator), Estonia; Uppsala University (UU), Sweden; University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL), France; and Åbo Akademi University (AAU), Finland. The language of instruction is English, but students will also learn to communicate in one of the languages of the countries involved.

The online application form, admission requirements, deadlines, list of necessary documents, instructions/explanations, as well as contact data for questions are available from the EACH Admission information page.

We wish you all the success in applying!

 

 

On Nov 05, 2018 Ivo Leito gave a presentation Unified pH about the pan-European research network of fundamental pH Research UnipHied (www.uniphied.eu) at the 7th Baltic Electrochemistry Conference organized by the University of Tartu.

The presentation started with explaining the need for the experimental realization and measurement capability of unified pH (pHabs). Thereafter the current state of art of measuring pHabs values was described and finally some first exemplary results were highlighted.

The presentation created a lot of interest from the participants and roughly as many questions were asked as for the other four presentations of the same session put together!

As of now, it is not possible to compare pH values of solutions made in different solvents, as every solvent has its own pH scale. This situation is highly unfortunate, since it causes confusion and inaccuracies into many fields, extending far beyond the specific field of acid-base chemistry. Examples are industrial catalytic processes, food chemistry, liquid chromatograpy, etc.

The central aim of the UnipHied network is to establish at international level measurement capability of pHabs values that would be applicable also at routine laboratory level. The two key activities for achieving that are creating a reliable method for the experimental or computational evaluation of the liquid junction potential and between aqueous and non-aqueous solutions and developing a coherent and validated suite of calibration standards for standardizing routine measurement systems in terms of pHabs values for a variety of widespread systems (e.g., industrial mixtures, soils/waters, food products, biomaterials).

The partners of the UnipHied network are LNE (France, coordinator), BFKH (Hungary), CMI (Czech Republic), DFM (Denmark), IPQ (Portugal), PTB (Germany), SYKE (Finland), TÜBITAK-UME (Turkey), Freiburg University (Germany), ANBSensors (United Kingdom), FCiencias.ID (Portugal), UT (Estonia, initiator).

UnipHied is funded from the EMPIR programme (project 17FUN09) co-financed by the Participating States and from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

 

On Oct 26, 2018 Ivo Leito gave presentation titled Analytical chemistry education activities at University of Tartu at the EcoBalt 2018 conference in Vilnius (Lithuania).

The presentation contains information about the on-line courses LC-MS Method Validation and Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis, as well as the recently published tutorial reviews (Validation I, Validation II, LoD I, LoD II) that form the basis of the LC-MS Method Validation course.

The presentation also addresses the international master’s programmes Applied Measurement Science and Excellence in Analytical Chemistry at University of Tartu.

The last part of the talk is devoted to the Eurachem 2018 General Assembly and Workshop that will take place in Tartu on May 20-21, 2018. The topic of the workshop is “Validation of targeted and non-targeted methods of analysis”.

 

Validation_of_LC-MS_Methods_Online_CourseWe are glad to announce that the third edition of the online course LC-MS Method Validation is open for registration at the address https://sisu.ut.ee/lcms_method_validation/ !

The course will be offered as a Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC) during Nov 27, 2018 – Feb 08, 2019.

This is a practice-oriented on-line course on validation of analytical methods, specifically using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) as technique, mostly (but not limited to) using the electrospray (ESI) ion source. The course will also be of interest to chromatographists using other detector types. The course introduces the main concepts and mathematical apparatus of validation, covers the most important method performance parameters and ways of estimating them. The course is largely based on the recently published two-part tutorial review:

The course materials include lectures, practical exercises and numerous tests for self-testing. In spite of being introductory, the course intends to offer sufficient knowledge and mathematical skills for carrying out validation for most of the common LC-MS analyses in routine laboratory environment. The real-life analysis situations for which there are either examples or self-tests are for example determination of pesticides in fruits and vegetables, perfluoroalkyl acids in water, antibiotics in blood serum, glyphosate and AMPA in surface water, etc. It is important to stress, that for successful validation practical experience – both in analytical chemistry as such and also specifically in validation – is crucial and this can be acquired only through hands-on laboratory work, which cannot be offered via an on-line course.

Participation in the course is free of charge. Receiving digital certificate (in the case of successful completion) is also free of charge. Printed certificate (to be sent by post) is available for a fee of 60 EUR. Registration is possible until the start of the course. The course material is available from the above address all the time and can be used via web by anyone who wishes to improve the knowledge and skills in analytical method validation (especially when using LC-ESI-MS).

 

During 29.09-10.10.2018 the EACH programme has been hosting visiting scholar, Prof. Narendra Nath Ghosh from the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, K K Birla Goa Campus (India). He conducted an intensive course Nanomaterials and Nanotechnology and their Applications in Analytical Chemistry.

This lecture series started with introduction to nanomaterials and nanotechnology, the origin of nanotechnology and nanomaterials, and how and why the properties of nanomaterials are different from bulk materials. It then developed to cover design of a variety of nanostructured materials, their preparation techniques and different analytical instrumental methods for structural characterization of nanomaterials. Finally, a significant amount of time was devoted to the use of nanomaterials in different analytical techniques, especially in sensor applications and applications of these sensors in real life (detection and estimation of different types of analytes such as glucose, H2O2, metal ions, etc and how these nanosensors can be used for health monitoring, food quality monitoring, and environmental monitoring).

Altogether 15 students (out of them 6 EACH students) participated in the course and their feedback was very positive.

Prof. Ghosh is the Associate Dean, International Program and Collaboration at the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, K K Birla Goa Campus. His research interests embrace development of new and novel chemical methodologies for preparation of nanomaterials, mesoporous materials and nanocomposites, as well as applications of nanomaterials in catalysis, sensors, separations, microwave absorption, supercapacitor etc.

(Photo by Ivo Leito: Prof. Ghosh, in the middle, with students)

 

Recently the Analytical chemistry group of University of Tartu participated in a cutting-edge research endeavor: characterizing the acidity of some extremely efficient strongly acidic organocatalysts. In the case of the Mukaiyama aldol reaction the best of them (1) worked at low ppm to sub-ppm level, (2) gave excellent yields and (3) high enantiomeric selectivity as well as (4) turnover numbers (TON numbers) of hundreds of thousands (Nature Chemistry 2018, 10, 888-894).

The extent to which these four features occurred together in the same catalyst was so remarkable that the results were published in one of the most prestigious journals in chemical sciences: Nature Chemistry.

The extremely demanding acidity measurements were performed by Dr Karl Kaupmees using the unique non-aqueous acid-base chemistry facility that the group is running. The whole research project was led by the group of professor Benjamin List – a worldwide known guru in the field of strongly acidic catalysts working at the Max-Planck-Institut für Kohlenforschung.
These results are expected to open new avenues in development of powerful new organocatalysts.

(Photo by Andres Tennus: Karl doing acidity measurements in a glovebox under anhydrous conditions)

On September 6, 2018 the master thesis defence took place at University Claude Bernard Lyon 1 (UCBL). Dmitriy Chikhirev, Abhishek Sonu, Malika Beishanova and Marco Bertic (left to right on the photo) successfully defended their master’s theses!

Congratulations to all of you!

As is typical for the Lyon study track, the topics of the theses were very practical and linked to industrial interests – applications of spectroscopy in industrial process control, on-line chromatographic systems, advanced sensor technology, etc. This choice of topics and the long-standing industrial collaboration are rooted in the world-famous industrial analysis and control study direction at UCBL led by prof. Jérôme Randon.