Like any other ESR in MSCA-ITN, I also had to join another partner/beneficiary organization for the sake of secondment. In my case, I went to Waldbronn, Germany to complete my 3 months long secondment at Agilent Technologies between from January to April 2022. It was a wonderful and enriching experience.
Before moving, I was living in Belgium (which has predominantly a flat topography) as compared to Waldbronn in Germany (which is a rather hilly terrain). This was a very pleasant transformation since the scenery and landscape in neighbourhood was really admirable. Agilent Technologies was located uphill therefore the views from its office windows were commendable, which fills the workplace with a refreshing atmosphere. My accommodation was arranged in Boardinghouse Waldbronn, a very comfy place to live and within the walking distance from Agilent, thus the daily commute was not that difficult. On a regular basis, I and my colleagues ESR10, were exploring different kinds of cheesecakes (a speciality form that area) from different bakeries, so no doubt an additional delicious experience. On the weekends, it was a pleasure to walk on the trails of a quiet little forest, that I will probably miss from Waldbronn.
Right from the first day, I was able to start the work in the lab, thanks to the host company’s arrangements and facilities. During my secondment, I had the opportunity to work along with ESR10 (Allisson Barros de Souza), who is working at Agilent. We shared the knowledge and skills from our respective field of research. I gained valuable theoretical knowledge and practical understanding while working on the HPLC-UV and LC-QTOF. Along with ESR10, we developed LC-UV and LC-MS methods to analyse the degradation of various pollutants of concern (listed in the Watch List 2020) using electrochemical advanced oxidation processes and also tried to identify the degradation/transformation products formed as a result of the treatment.
Figure 4: While working in the lab (source: own)
Overall, I believe that the secondments are an excellent opportunity to get out of your own lab, take a refreshing start at another lab, learn new techniques and aspects, and enrich you mind with new ideas from collaboration so that you and your project can grow collectively. A limited time of the secondment makes you learn how to stand for the best of your interests and make most use of your time. Now, as my secondment has come to an end, I am packing my luggage and samples, with a mind full of ideas and motivation to work further in my own lab.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude for the help and support I got from Tom Van de Goor, Allisson Barros de Souza and Konstantin Choikhet which enabled me to produce some valuable results.
Izba Ali is an Environmental Engineer with a passion and innate desire to innovate sustainable solutions for a better world. Her passion led her to opt for Environmental Engineering as her bachelor’s studies.