Magda Costa

Nationality: Portuguese
Age: 24

ESR position: ESR5

Topic of your PhD work: Optimizations in yeast performance and fermentation process

Two universities you will be enrolled to:

University 1 (employer):
Ghent University, Belgium
University 2:
University of Agriculture in Krakow, Poland

Name of supervisor 1:
Anita Van Landschoot
Name of supervisor 2:
Aleksander Poreda

Education background:

Field of study for your BSc and MSc: Integrated Master in Biological Engineering
University of your BSc and MSc: Instituto Superior Técnico, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Field of study for your MSc: Biocatalysis
Topic of your MSc: Engineering bacterial cells for the redox neutral conversion of alcohols into optically active amines
University of your MSc: University of Amsterdam

Short description of your MSc work:

Optically active amines are very in demand in today’s society since nature is unable to produce them in large amounts. Biocatalytic cascades performing direct conversion of alcohols into amines have never been reported before in a whole-cell environment. Asymmetric amination of primary and secondary alcohols was accomplished using resting cells of E. coli overexpressing the enzymes as biocatalyst. The redox cascades involved an alcohol dehydrogenase and an amine dehydrogenase making use of the same cofactor or two independent cofactor recycling systems.

Why did you decide to apply for the EJDFoodSci?

Food Science, especially the brewing industry, is a field that I find fascinating since my early studies. How such small organisms with the right raw materials can produce something as amazing as beer made me want to invest on this field. Also, this programme intends to bring together the research that happens in a small scale to an industrial scale. As an engineer, it is very appealing to me to start the innovation process in a lab scale and work way through to implement it in the industrial process.

Please list top 5 things you find most attractive in this project?

1. A project with industrial application.
2. Evolves teamwork.
3. Vast and diverse field of research.
4. Opportunity to work with people from different backgrounds.
5. Excellent learning opportunity.

How did you find the whole process of recruitment, how did you feel during the evaluation, interviews, etc.?

The whole process of recruitment was clear since the moment we applied and the feedback from each stage of evaluation was given soon after the interviews. These allowed me to be more at ease, comfortable and confidant with the whole process.

What did you think/how did you feel when you received the letter informing that you were accepted for the ESR position?

I was at the boarding gate ready to return to Portugal, when I was informed I was accepted for the ESR position. I was stunned in the next 30 minutes, very happy and excited about what would come next, as this project will allow me to grow personally and professionally in the next 3 years.

When the project is over I would like to embrace the industry. A R&D department of a food company, preferably a brewery, would be my first option to put in practice my engineering background and all that I have learned during the 3 years of project. As I have so far done in my life, I intend to work towards this goal.

What are your hobbies, what you like doing in your free time?

On my free time I like to read since books make me travel to other places and times, discovering new knowledge and people. Reading at the beach is definitively my favourite summer activity. Whenever I can, I enjoy traveling since I find captivating learning about other cultures and discovery the beauty of new places.