The 2019 edition of the web course (MOOC) Estimation of Measurement Uncertainty in Chemical Analysis will be running during Mar 26 – May 7, 2019. Registration is open!

The full course material (as well as the registration link) is accessible from the web page https://sisu.ut.ee/measurement/uncertainty. The course materials include videos, schemes, calculation files and numerous self-tests (among them also full-fledged measurement uncertainty calculation exercises). In order to pass the course, the registered participants have to take six graded tests and get higher than 50% score in every graded test. These tests are available to registered participants via the Moodle e-learning platform. Participants who successfully pass the course will get a certificate from University of Tartu. A digital certificate of completion is free of charge. A certificate of completion on paper can be requested for a fee of 60 euros.

You are welcome to distribute this message to potentially interested people!

In the morning of the fourth Winter school day (24.01.19) Dr. Franck Baco-Antoniali from EACH associated partner Axel’One gave an overview of the specifics of industrial analysis and process control and its differences from the traditional chemical analysis. In some cases the differences are dramatic.

The next session was dedicated to presentations from student teams on their glucose measurement projects. Students measured glucose with three different systems – two commercial blood glucometers and an amperometric system built on site. The results of glucose measurements in blood agreed very well between the two commercial meters.
Typical results were 5.4 vs 5.3 mM; 6.1 vs 5.8 mM; 5.4 vs 5.6 mM; 5.6 vs 5.0 mM, etc. All these values are very realistic for a healthy organism. The results of the self-made meter gave dramatically – by 2-4 times – underestimated results. The reason is quite clear: the commercial meters are calibrated specifically for blood, taking into account all matrix effects. At the same time, the self-made meter was calibrated with simple solution of glucose. So, it was a very good demonstration of the importance of matrix match when calibrating.

We thank all participants for the enjoyable winter school experience!

The next EACH Winter school will take place in Estonia.

(Photos: top left: Franck Baco-Antoniali showing his collaboration partners in industry; right and bottom: student teams presenting their results)

 

In the morning of the third Winter school day came the information long awaited by the students – their assigned study tracks of the second year. It took quite some discussions both among the consortium committee members and with students to ensure that all students will be assigned to the study tracks that are the most suitable for them. We hope that we succeeded!

The study track announcement was followed by taking the group photo – near and on a large pile of snow near the venue. Snow is always an exciting material for some of the EACH students, because every year there are some who have never physically experienced snow before coming to the EACH programme.

The evening was dedicated to recreational activities: skating and bowling.

Photo top left: group photo; photo right (by Johan): Good shot! From the bowling on Wed evening; Photo bottom left (by Allen): Skating!

 

The second day of the EACH Winter school was full of excitement: student teams performed measurements of glucose with amperometric sensors. This is a highly important measurement for diagnosing and monitoring diabetes, as enhanced blood glucose level is the key symptom of diabetes and glucose meters are possibly the most widespread amperometric sensors available.

The main measurement technology is biosensing, using either glucose oxidase or glucose dehydrogenase that is applied to the electrode system, along with auxiliary compounds. In simplified manner the operation can be viewed as: glucose oxidation by some auxiliary compound is catalysed by the enzyme, the amount of the reduced form of the auxiliary compound is then measured amperometrically and recalculated into glucose amount.

Student teams made measurements and compared results from three different instruments: two commercial (containing different enzymes) and one that has been built by the sensors group of the Åbo Akademi. The results of the measurements and comparison between instruments will be summarized at a presentation session on the last day of the Winter school.

A very pleasant feature of the practical session was that among teachers were EACH graduates Jay Pee Oña and Kenneth Arandia. Many thanks to you for joining us!

Photos: top left: Jay Pee Oña (right) showing glucose measurements; right: Ville Yrjänä explaining glucose measurements; bottom left: students discussing with Ville Yrjänä (right) and Kenneth Arandia (left)

 

On Jan 21, 2019, the fourth Winter School of the EACH programme started in Åbo/Turku (Finland). Altogether 37 students from more than 20 countries participate.

The Winter School offers a diverse set of activities to the participants. There are lectures on advanced analytical chemistry topics (metabolomics, non-targete screening in environmental chemistry, industrial analysis and process control, etc) by top experts, group works and entertainment. The intense working is counterbalanced by social activities – swimmming pool, skating, etc.

Traditionally an important activity in the Winter school is selecting first year students to study tracks. In order to give one more piece of information what the study tracks are about, there was a session of presentations on the first day by second year students on their master thesis topics (see photos). Another exciting session planned in the Winter school is related to using electrochemical sensors in real life: hands-on session on using amperometric glucose sensors.Full information about the Winter School activities is available at the EACH Winter School web page.

Photos: Uppsala (top left), Lyon (right) and Åbo (bottom left) students presenting about their life and studies.

The students from the second intake of the EACH programme successfully defended their theses over the summer of 2018 (Please see here: defence at UUdefence at AAU, and  defence at UCBL). We have carried out a small survey and found that out of the 17 fresh graduates, 15 already have by now found a new position!

Some of the graduates work in the professional/industrial field. The positions obtained range from a Senior Process Engineer in a Multinational company to chemists in a pharmaceutical companies, and a chemist at National Food Agency of Sweden to research assistant at a university. A number of graduates are continuing their academic career by pursuing a doctoral degree. The universities that our graduates have managed to obtain Ph.D. positions range from Canada to Finland.

Here is what some of the fresh graduates of the EACH programme say about their experience with the programme:

Alisija Prakapaite (UU study-track), currently working as an analytical scientist at AstraZeneca, a bio-pharmaceutical company in Sweden: I was that lucky person, who got accepted to EACH program in 2016. And by saying lucky – I mean it. EACH was not only a kick off point in my career, but it was a life changing experience.
The first year at Tartu gave me very good basics of analytical chemistry, uncertainty (Measurement uncertainty online course is an absolute must!) and chemometrics. During my second year at Uppsala University we had only one course at the time. But we were going deeply into theory and then putting our knowledge into the practice in our daily lab work with different instruments. It was a lot of work, but on the other hand – a lot of experience. So don’t get scared! This work pays off afterwards with all the acquired knowledge.
After this program, I can certainly say that I am confident in myself, as an analytical chemist, and in my skills. Now I am working in Gothenburg, Sweden, at AstraZeneca as an Analytical Scientist. Due to my experience from these studies, I could easily join the ongoing work.

Jay Pee Oña (AAU study-track), Ph.D. student at AAU, Finland: The EACH program has definitely provided a valuable boost to my academic career. The Tartu-Åbo study-track has introduced me to the world of electrochemistry, a field that has regained interest in recent years due to the development of fuel cells and point-of-care diagnostics, among many others. Right after graduation, I started my doctoral studies at Åbo Akademi University. The main topic of my research is biomass conversion for fuel and chemical production, where a significant part will involve electrocatalysis and online analysis of reaction products. Therefore, much of the skills and knowledge that I have obtained from the EACH program can be applied in my current work.
Aside from the technical expertise, EACH provides numerous opportunities to improve one’s soft skills, such as adaptability and teamwork, which are very important in a multicultural working environment.

Kalliroi Sdougkou (UU study-track), Ph.D. of Stockholm University, Sweden: The EACH programme was an overall amazing experience for me. I spent two wonderful years at two great universities, I travelled and made friends from all over the world. The programme is very well organized and it gives you all you need to enter the job-market. When I finished my master’s degree in Uppsala, I was glad to find myself capable of applying to quite a lot of positions for analytical chemists in Sweden. In the end I decided to pursue third cycle studies, something that I would probably not be prepared and confident to do without the EACH programme.

 

Marko Bertic, Ph.D student at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Germany:
Immediately after arriving in France, I realized that all the classes I took in Tartu would be used in one way or another. In France all the lectures are OBLIGATORY and there were no midterm exams in general. Because of this, all the final exams were squeezed in one week (that’s right, approximately 1-2 exams per day). Second semester gave me a great opportunity to do a 6 months internship in French company in industry. For me this was the best part of choosing France as a second-year country. Furthermore, we were paid for this period (another positive of this study-track). Working in the company was again a challenge since not all the people there spoke English, so our French skills came to the fore one more time. This period of about 1 year made us integrate into the French society and I can say for sure we are all at least 20 % French now.
This programme opened many doors for me. I applied for couple of Ph.D. positions and in each interview first thing they asked me was to explain in detail what my master’s programme is about. It was very interesting and made me a very attractive choice.

 

Please, also see the blog post from Snežana about her time in the EACH programme.

 

We wish all the best to our graduates!

 

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!