14 October 2019

ESR 9 on Secondment


The year 2019 is the year of secondments for many ESRs. From August to December, I am also spending time abroad with NaToxAq colleagues at the Universities of Copenhagen and Stockholm.

by Carina Schönsee (ESR9)

After a busy period back in Zürich hosting three fellow ESRs at Agroscope, I left Switzerland to go on secondments myself. The first stop was the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) where I stayed two months at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences. Copenhagen certainly was the NaToxAq main hub in August and September with five ESRs that are permanently in the city plus three more ESRs visiting for some time. Although Copenhagen was a new city for me, I was fully integrated from the first day. During my time I was not only able to continue working on my own data analysis and focusing a bit on writing publications, I also learned a lot about the research going on at UCPH as well as at the University College Copenhagen. I also accompanied other ESRs on their sampling trips and joined an excursion organized by NaToxAq partner Krüger A/S (Veolia Water Technologies). The excursion took us to the only water treatment plant using surface water to produce drinking water in Denmark (see also the News Story by Marcel). Trips outside of the office or lab definitely help focusing on NaToxAqs overall goal to find the most relevant toxins with regards to the quality of water resources. And natural toxins are certainly found all over Denmark, they even follow us ESRs on weekend sightseeing trips in form of toxic plants and algae blooms ;)

For the rest of the year, I am now learning all about modeling natural toxin physicochemical properties at Stockholm University. With all the data I have gathered on natural toxin sorption over the last year, Inés and I will now work on evaluating the best applicable models for property prediction. It will be exciting to learn more about the modeling perspective which is complementary to my own work. It will help us to get a better idea on potential occurrence of natural toxins in water resources in general, as experimental assessment is only done for a limited number of compounds.