It’s been a while since my first blog entry and there are a lot of new stories to tell. Let’s begin where I left off.
After our joint courses at TU Berlin in September (2017), my colleagues bid me farewell and took off to their respective countries. We didn’t have to miss each other for long though; a follow-up training at the Copenhagen University (Denmark) commenced in November. During those twelve days, we delved mainly into the topic of beer stability. I especially remember the case study where we had to play the Devil’s advocate and make a trial supporting beer oxidation and its merits. It was out of the box and great practice.
After the beautiful Copenhagen stay, I tried to concentrate on writing my review paper, which I had already started on in October (gathering sources and lots of reading). It became “an assignment of long breath”, which is a literal translated Dutch expression for saying that a task is extensive and with difficulties. In fact, to this day, it is still not finished (then again, it has been on hold since the beginning of 2018). You see, there is a certain duality in writing a review paper as a PhD student: It’s a terrific way to educate yourself about your topic, and it can serve as your thesis introduction. In that way, it totally makes sense writing one. However, the lack of experience—especially in beginning PhD students—makes it a frustrating chore and (its likely to end up as) a shallow paper.
That said, the start of 2018 brought forth a fresh breeze and yet another training course; this time entertained by UGent and KU Leuven, both located in my home town of Ghent (Belgium). The whole month of January, we explored various topics of brewing science: wort production, fermentation, chromatography, practical lab work, and—my personal favorite—brew-engineering. Among other things, we visited numerous enthralling breweries. As brewers—especially in Belgium—are sticklers for tradition, it is not uncommon to be covered in history while having a brewery tour. That said, with Belgium being one of the biggest beer exporters in the world, it is definitely not behind in terms of brewing technology; which creates an interesting mix of two worlds. Do I hear art? Well, I can definitely taste it.
From February until March, I could finally focus more intensely on the research aspect of this project, which proved to be necessary, since my poster proposal for the 13th Trends in Brewing (TiB) conference was accepted, and I needed more results. So, I did a lot of complexation trials. For the science enthusiasts, I promise I will touch upon what this entails in the next blog.
Thus, in April came my very first brewing conference wherein I partook with aforementioned poster: “Assessment of Metal Chelators in Wort- and Beer-Simulating Buffer Solutions”. Although I was a bit sick during TiB, I had an amazing time and met a bunch of interesting people. The brewing community really is a jolly bunch—the free beer doesn’t hurt as well.
The month of May delivered our lab a brand new ICP-OES (a device I will use to determine metal amounts in samples). However, no time to play with it yet, because I was accepted to give an oral presentation about metal ions in beer in Kocierz (Poland) at the 19th School of Fermentation Technology conference, so I puzzled together a PowerPoint. My goal for the presentation was to be as comprehensive as possible. Whether I succeeded or not, you can judge for yourself, as the presentation was filmed and posted on the ‘International PhD in Food Science’ Facebook group.
May melted to June, but still no time to analyze all my frozen samples with the ICP-OES. I had to write an abstract for an oral presentation at the 6th Young Scientists Symposium conference in Bitburg (Germany)—which I got accepted for later, by the way. Also, June was the month where all ESRs came together once again for one of the last intensive courses this project would throw at us. We had to earn our keep by doing an extensive online e-learning course in preparation. But the whole experience was incredibly educational. The University of Nottingham was well organized, and focused on topics like beer flavour development, sensory analysis, product development, etc. In Nottingham I also gave my first informal science talk, better known there as a PubhD.
Back home, I made another poster to be displayed at the Master Brewers Conference in San Diego (America). After that, it was finally time to start exploring the new ICP-OES… and it was a huge struggle. But with help from the manual and lots of trial and error, I eventually succeeded in making the ICP-OES work properly. High-five to myself. The first results are rolling out, and I’m relieved to say that they look normal.
Now, this blog entry is already a bit too long, sorry for that. However, before I conclude, allow me to make a quick advertisement for a friend’s project here in Berlin that I want to support: Berlin Science Talk is a scientific platform and community that brings together science enthusiasts and aids them in search for an audience, fellow scientists, jobs, friends, etc. I gave a talk there recently, and it was great fun! If you’re in the area, give it a shot. I bet there’s something similar wherever you live.
Catch you on the flip side!