1 July 2019

Life of a Ph.D. student


Much happened since the last NaToxAq Ph.D. School in Barcelona, Spain in February – read about what I have been up to in the last couple of months.

By ESR12 Marcel Schneider

After the last NaToxAq Ph.D. School in Barcelona, Spain in February, Barbara (ESR14) and I started preparing for the Doctoral State Exam at our university. Prior to the exam, we both had to prepare an essay introducing our Ph.D. projects and background of the topics. Following, in the oral exam, a committiee consisting of experienced researchers and professors challenges Ph.D. students to prove their knowledge in environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology and environmental risk assessment and show their capability to think like a researcher – so basically, to show if a student has what it needs to become a successful scientist. Barbara and I did very well and passed the exam.

About one month later, together with some colleagues from RECETOX and from the NaToxAq network, I attended the 11th International Conference on Toxic Cyanobacteria (ICTC 2019) in Krakow, Poland. Regiane (ESR10) and I gave oral presentations, sharing the findings of our research, and Barbara (ESR14) presented two posters. During my presentation, I talked about the Degradation of cylindrospermopsin using advanced non-thermal plasma technologies – the findings of the work I did in collaboration with the plasma experts from the Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology during my secondment in Greifswald last year. Soon after that, I gave an oral and a poster presentation at the Ph.D. Student Conference of the Department of Chemistry (Masaryk University – Faculty of Science), where I was awarded second best poster presentation.

In between the two conferences, I went back to Barcelona, this time for my third secondment. Together with Massimo (ESR3), I went to Aigües de Barcelona, the company that provides drinking water for and treats the wastewater of Barcelona. During our secondment, we visited a drinking water and a wastewater treatment plant, went for a sampling trip along Llobregat River to sample surface water which we then analysed for natural toxins under Massimo’s lead.

In June, many of the NaToxAq family once again came together for the last Ph.D. School in Leipzig, Germany, where we had classes on ecotoxicology, instrumental analysis of natural toxins, career development and grant writing. We also went to the Rappbode Dam in the Harz mountains for an excursion.

Presenting my research findings at the ICTC 2019 in Krakow, Poland (left) and one of the many beautiful spots along Llobregat River, north of Barcelona, Spain were we took water samples from during my secondment (right).

I used the time in between all these interesting events to draft manuscripts for publication in scientific journals – so stay tuned for some interesing papers on the oxidation of cyanotoxins with non-thermal plasmas in the near future. Besides finalizing my publications, I will go to Copenhagen, Denmark for my last secondment, attend the 16th International Conference on Environmental Science and Technology (CEST 2019) in Rhodes, Greece with an oral presentation and continue with my experiments in the lab.