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Meet our Early Stage Researcher Team!

ESR 1: Zoe Giannioti

Markers for pasta and rice authentication
Host: FEM: Supervisors: Dr. Federica Camin; Dr. Luana Bontempo.
Zoe Giannioti

Zoe graduated from Surrey University with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and from UCL with a Master’s degree in Chemical Process Engineering. During her BSc thesis she utilised analytical instrumentation to investigate the adsorption of strontium and competing ions by extraction chromatography resins for use in nuclear decommissioning and emergency response.

Her interest in analytical chemistry is apparent throughout her studies and professional experience, having worked on research projects, quality control and analytical method development in the laboratories of BP Castrol in the UK, Sapienza University in Italy and Melco Petroleum in Greece. She enjoys working with experimental data and drawing information from complex graphs or large numerical sets in order to better understand chemical behaviours. She is also always interested in taking up a new challenge, learning new skills and working collaboratively in interdisciplinary teams. At the moment, she is eager to explore the applications of analytical chemistry in the field of food science at the Edmund Mach Foundation..

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 2: Jonas Andersen

Authenticity of dairy products
Host: FEM: Supervisor: Dr. Elena Franciosi
Jonas Andersen

Jonas is a graduate from the University of Copenhagen in Demark where he obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology (2017) and a Master’s Degree in Biology with specialization within Microbiology (2019). He focused his study on the complex interactions between microorganisms and humans, as well as the use of microbiology for food production, in pharmacy and medically. His thesis was performed at Statens Serum Institut (The State's Serum Institute) in Denmark, department of Bacteria, Parasites & Fungi under the supervision of René Jørgensen and Professor Anders Primé. The project focused on growth conditions, and especially the impact of dietary sugars, under which the cytotoxin production Clostridioides difficile was altered.

Jonas will be working on the FoodTraNet ESR project focused on using isotopic and elemental differences and similarities between environment, milk and cheese to determine authenticity of products. Further, the bacteria used in cheese production will be characterized for their production of beneficial bioactive compounds and possible benefit to human gut microbiota. He will utilize his knowledge of bacteria, human/bacteria symbiosis and food production, and look forward to his enhance knowledge and scientific skills.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 3: Mudita Wats

Distinctive multimodal molecular organic and traditional wine characterisation
Host: UM-4I: Supervisor: Prof. Ron Heeren
Mudita Wats

Mudita will be doing her PhD at M4i, Maastricht University under Prof. Ron MA Heeren and Dr. Berta Cillero Pastor. Where her main focus will be the development and application of innovative strategies for the analysis of vines, soil and wine in organic wine farming. She has completed her M.Sc. in applied microbiology from India. During her M.Sc. thesis at CSIR-CCMB she worked on the project titled 'Acetylation for the validation of peptide sequence using Mass spectrometry'. In this, crude protein of antarctic bacteria pseudomonas syringae Lz4W was taken. Which was further digested using trypsin. She analyzed the b1 ions which represent the N-terminal residue of an amino acid and compared the number of b ions in acetylated and unacetylated peptides to demonstrate the advantage of using acetylation as chemical modification over unacetylated peptides. Mudita is one of the early Career Network leads on MSACL (Mass Spectrometry and Advances in Clinical Lab). She had equipped herself with the hands on skills of microbial enzyme technology, molecular biology, industrial microbiology, optical imaging etc.

Her previous research experience in microbiology lead her to work as a Junior Research Fellow in Central Pulp and Paper Research Institute, Saharanpur, India. Here she was developing the methods to evaluate the microbial contamination in food packaging paper. Additionally she was also involved in producing bioethanol from lignocellulosic biomass by fermentation using yeast and bacteria.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 4: Abdur Rehman Anwar

Development of novel edible photonic barcodes for food tagging and tracing
Host: JSI: Supervisor: Dr. Matjaž Humar
Abdur Rehman Anwar

Abdur Rehman Anwar obtained his master’s degree in engineering sciences from Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and technology (GIK Institute), Topi, Swabi, Pakistan in 2020. He has won a GIK Institute Fellowship and Graduate Assistantship Award for master’s Studies from 2018 to 2020.

He has published more than 20 research articles in internationally reputed peer-reviewed journals and participated in several national and international conferences. It is pertinent to mention that he has also won an Institutional Gold Medal Award (from GIK Institute) for overall best academic performance of the institute by Dr. Arif Alvi, President of Pakistan.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 5: Maria Antonietta Carrera

Characterization of bioactive compounds in organic beekeeping
Host: CSIC-INIA : Supervisor: Prof. María Delores Hernando
Maria Carrera

I am a young master’s graduate in chemistry from Università degli studi di Napoli Federico II. During my education as a chemist, I have progressively focused my interests on biochemistry and on the development of new bioanalytical approaches. Particularly, I have acquired experience in the use of mass spectrometry and chromatographic techniques for proteins and metabolites, in both targeted and untargeted mode. This has brought me to develop a deep interest in the application of analytical chemistry to natural products and foods, to assess their nutritional properties and safeguard the biodiversity of our planet.

What fascinates me is the interdisciplinarity of this field of research, which is able to create links among different but complementary sciences.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 6: Cathrine Terro

Novel strategies for verifying food authenticity & building consumer trust
Host: JSI: Supervisor: Prof. dr. Nives Ogrinc
Catherine Terro

Cathrine graduated from the American University of Beirut in Lebanon with a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition & Dietetics in 2017. She then started working as a medical nutritionist in Saint George Hospital in Beirut, Lebanon. Later, she began to conduct fieldwork identifying and reporting food and nutrition related problems in the primary healthcare with a focus on refugee health. Cathrine developed a love for her work as a field researcher and became a community nutritionist and ambassador for FoodBlessed Lebanon. She also enjoyed the opportunity to work in the field on a joint project between the American University of Beirut (Lebanon) & the University of Hohenheim (Germany), concerning maternal and child nutrition among refugees and host communities in Lebanon. Her previous research experiences and interests led her to pursue a Master’s degree in ‘Food Security and Human Development’ at the Università degli Studi Roma Tre in Italy. She had the chance to work on her thesis with the Society for International Development (SID), at their Policy and Advocacy Office in Rome under the supervision of Prof. Nora McKeon. The goal of her thesis was to elucidate the current status-quo and pathways for improvement with regards to food and nutrition policies in the Middle east. Due to the unsustainable food policies and food production practices in the Middle East, her thesis focused on detailing the requirements for restructuring sustainable policies related to food, particularly when considering consumer transparency. Cathrine’s passion for food policy advocacy, transparency, and consumer rights motivated her to delve deeper into food science and pursue her current PhD.

As a hobby, Cathrine is a content writer for several online magazines and blogs, including her own blog. She also played for the American University of Beirut Rugby team.

Contact: catherine.terro@ijs.si

ESR 7: Harshit Sahai

Alternative waste exploitation: microplastics in water & reuse in crops
Host: CSIC-INIA: Supervisor: Dr. María Dolores Hernando
Harshit Sahai

Hello there! I'm Harshit, and I'm passionate about science and the environment. During my undergraduate studies in zoology and chemistry at the University of Lucknow in India, I developed a significant interest in contemporary environmental issues. This sparked my interest in the subject, and I went on to earn a Master's degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Delhi in India. My dissertation research was conducted under the supervision of Prof. Chirashree Ghosh at the University of Delhi's Department of Environmental Studies, with the goal of determining the presence of microplastics in peri-urban agricultural areas and commercial organic fertilizers in New Delhi, India. The outcomes of the study were presented verbally at the EWASH-2020 Conference organized by the Save The Environment Society. Under the supervision of Dr. Darpa S. Jyethi, I have also worked on a project titled “Assessment of atmospheric particulate matter (PM2.5) and associated elemental carbon, organic carbon, and water-soluble organic carbon at Tezpur, Assam” at the Indian Statistical Institute North-East Centre, where we’ve tried to assess PM2.5 characteristics and trends.

Under the expert supervision of Prof. Maria Dolores Hernando, Prof. Ester Heath, and Prof. Amadeo Rodrguez Fernández-Alba, I will now be working at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas (CSIC), Madrid, Spain, in collaboration with the Jožef Stefan International Postgraduate School (JSIPS), Ljubljana, Slovenia, as part of the FoodTraNet Project. I aim to investigate the prevalence and effects of microplastics on agriculture, as well as their entry into our food chains and potential ramifications for crop fitness, food security and human health. Someday, I hope to become an established researcher who can raise public awareness about this "contaminant of emerging concern."

P.S. I love travelling and music. I’m also into singing, music and video production and photography

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 8: Lorenzo Martello

Synthesis of “smart” polymer nanostructured materials for use in food research
Host: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki: Supervisor: Prof. Dimitra Lambropoulou
Lorenzo Martello

Lorenzo pursued his undergraduate degree in Analytical Chemistry at the University of Camerino, (Camerino, Italy) under the supervision of Prof. Dennis Fiorini, working in the field of food chemistry on samples coming from different sources, developing extraction methods to analyze the analytes of interest through different techniques as HPLC-MS, GC-FID, GC-MS.Then he moved to Technion - Israel Institute of Technology - (Haifa, Israel) for a study-abroad period where he practiced in organic synthesis for the construction of supramolecular systems, in Prof. Graham de Ruiter’s research team.

Lorenzo continued his training and research activity at the University of Trieste (Trieste, Italy) studying Chemistry of Nanostructured and Supramolecular Systems. He pursued his master’s degree under the supervision of Prof. Pierluigi Barbieri, contributing to the definition of protocols to correctly quantify airborne SARS-CoV-2 in indoor/outdoor environments, and developing experimental systems aimed at the investigation of the interaction between bio-aerosols, chemical and physical agents (nanoparticles, bioactive photocatalysts, pollutants, electromagnetic radiation). In Trieste he had also the opportunity to practice in the field of data analysis, under the supervision of Dr. Sabina Licen, discovering the fascinating world of chemometrics.

Lorenzo’s main research interest is in the field of separative analytical techniques and within the framework of the FoodTraNet project he will have the opportunity to combine his previous experience in food chemistry with those relating to nanotechnologies, polymer science and data analysis.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 9: Alicia Macan Schonleben

Identification of contaminants of emerging concern in novel foods for human consumption
Host: University of Antwerp: Supervisor: Prof. Adrian Covaci
Alicia Macan Schonleben

I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Science from the Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg in Germany. After my Bachelor’s, I worked six months at the University Clinic in Erlangen, where I participated in a research project focusing on the detection of the chemotherapeutic drug 5 fluorouracil in serum by HPLC. I then transferred for my Master’s degree to study Applied Chemistry at the Nuremberg Institute of Technology, where I gained experience in working with different analytical techniques. As part of my Master’s programme, I lived in Sweden for half a year and performed my Master thesis at the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg. My project there focused on the metabolism of the hallucinogenic drug N,N dimethyltryptamine, involving in vitro enzyme studies and analysis by LC/MS-MS.

After my first lecture in toxicology I knew, this was the field I wanted to work in. During my Master’s programme I then realised my inclination towards environmental studies and that I want to contribute to scientific achievements that will have an impact on environmental issues. Which is why I was thrilled when I found out about the training network and even more when I was selected as a candidate for ESR9. I am very excited to start working on my project at the Toxicological Centre, which will focus on the analysis of contaminants of emerging concern in novel foods for human consumption (for example edible insects, seafood or beehive products), using non target and suspect high resolution mass spectrometric screening methods.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 10: Eirini Andreasidou

Alternative waste exploitation: contaminants of emerging concern in agricultural wastewater reuse
Host: JSI: Supervisor: Prof. Ester. Heath
Eirini Andreasidou

Eirini Andreasidou - (ESR 10 - JSI) She obtained her bachelor’s degree Chemistry (2019) from Faculty of Sciences of University of Thessaloniki, Greece. As part of her undergraduate studies, her Bachelor project was focused on monomers' short- and long-term release from dental composites, determined by high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) (supervisor: Prof. Victoria Samanidou). Since she was an undergraduate student, she demonstrated a huge interest in science communication as Project Coordinator and Public Relations Manager of ReAcTiON Auth (Chemical Students’ Association – Department of Chemistry).

After that, she pursued a Master's in Analytical Chemistry (2019-2021) from University of Thessaloniki. Her research project was based on sample preparation, where a Fabric Phase Sorptive Extraction method was developed for the determination of Bisphenol A and residual monomers from human saliva (supervisor: Prof. Victoria Samanidou) with simultaneous application to dental wastewater (collaboration with As.Prof. Petros Mourouzis). At the same time, she participated in multiple local conferences, workshops and research articles. She decided to join FoodTraNet in order to contribute in terms of food quality through her PhD Studies (supervisor: Prof. Ester Heath), focusing on the determination of contaminants of emerging concern (CEC) residues in different matrices.

Contact: Eirini.Andreasidou@ijs.si

ESR 11: Edoardo Donà

New chemical and bio-sensors for food quality and safety
Host: IoS, Maribor: Supervisor: Prof. Aleksandra Lobnik
Edoardo Dona

Edoardo graduated in Chemistry at the University of Padua, in Italy, with a master thesis on the development of new electrolytes, based on ionic liquids, for magnesium secondary batteries, supervised by Prof. Vito Di Noto. During the master’s degree, he participated in the Erasmus+ program, at the KU Leuven University where he discovered his passion for electrochemistry and sensors. Later on, he became part of Stevanato Group, leader in the pharmaceutical primary packaging industry. He joined the Graduate program, which had the purpose to accelerate the integration into the business dynamics and the development of soft skills. His experience in Stevanato included working in two different company functions: operation, where he was leader of an important project intended to resolve a highly impacting defect on the syringes, which led to an innovative solution.

Afterwards, he joined the Regulatory & Scientific Affairs team, where he supported the pharmaceutical companies in the registration of drugs. During these times, he has gained a strong interest about the theme of contaminated food, also for personal reasons, and he is now thrilled to work in cutting-edge technology, in an intersectoral project where electrochemistry is a key factor.

Outside of academia, Edoardo enjoys playing football, and during the wintersnowboarding.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR12: Johan Stanley

Smart biopolymer materials with nanostructured surfaces with antimicrobial, biocompatible, anti-adhesive properties
Host: Aristotle University of Thessaloniki: Supervisor: Prof. Dimitrios Bikiaris
Johan Stanley

Johan Stanley holds a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering from Pondicherry University and a master's degree in Polymer Science & Engineering from Anna University, India. As a qualified Polymer researcher, he is personally greatly interested in polymer development and characterization. During his master's thesis, he focused on developing and characterizing bio composites for coated abrasive applications.

He also worked on the below-mentioned projects to actualize and implement the theoretical knowledge of Polymer science into practical work. (1) Schiff's Base (SB) Modified Polylactic acid (PLA) Film for Antimicrobial Packaging Applications. (2) Strategic Green Engineering for the Fabrication of Aluminum Oxide-based coated abrasives application. (3) Ricinoleic acid-based Polyurethane – Polylactic acid (PLA) – bio-degradable Semi-IPN for paper and wood coatings. (4) Zirconium dioxide Reinforced PLA Bio-composite film for Industrial Packaging Applications. As a credit to his research, he has published three papers in international journals. He has also filed an Indian Patent and presented his research work at various international and national conferences held all over India.

At the moment, he is eager to study the synthesis of biopolymers as a part of the ESR 12 project. He will be focusing on developing new biopolymer packaging material with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties to enhance the antimicrobial and antifungal properties of the food packaging surface, leading to improved food maintenance/conservation and safety hosted by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 13: Athira John

Functional coatings for active packaging development
Host: University of Maribor: Supervisor: Prof. Lidija Fras Zemljič
Athira John

Athira pursued her bachelors in Chemistry from Alphonsa College affiliated under Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam,India after which she chased her Masters in Biopolymer Science from Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT), India.She has undergone her project at IIT Kharagpur, India under the guidance of Prof. Santanu Dhara at the School of Medical Science and Technology, in Development of Nano fibrous scaffold using PCL-SILK emulsion for tissue engineering applications in which both synthetic and biopolymer interaction and property changes were studied. Project involved the property enhancement of hydrophobic polymer – polycaprolactone, by the incorporation of silk fibroin. It was the fabricated into nanofibers which was having a core - shell structure making it expedient in tissue engineering applications. The resultant scaffold was proven to be a valuable candidate from the cell studies.

Further she has worked as project assistant National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore India where she developed her skills in nanofabrication techniques like electrospinning and gained knowledge and experience in various applications of polymers. Her work experience in Central Electrochemical Research Institute was in preparation of functional biodegradable polymeric materials, improving the biodegradability of polymers being challenging and inevitable process in the current world scenario.

Her research interests include preparation of homopolymers and copolymers, chemical and physical modification of polymers for enhancing their properties.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 14: Lidia Molina

Plastics in Seafood
Host: UM-M4I: Supervisor: Prof. Ron Heeren
Lidia Molina

As soon as I discovered my authentic passion for science and research, I did not hesitate to enroll in a Chemistry degree at the University of Barcelona (UB) in September 2015. Due to my interest in marine ecosystems and my outstanding performance in the final degree project, I decided to extend my stay at the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research (IDAEA-CSIC) through an internship during the summer of 2019. During this period, I was able to gain professional expertise collaborating in the XENOMETABOLOMIC research. The results I collected in my final degree project were presented at the Metabolomics Conference in The Hague (The Netherlands) as well.

In October 2019, I started my Master’s studies in Analytical Chemistry at the UB as well as participating in an innovation project according to the grant I received, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Vocational Training. In July 2020, I presented my Master’s thesis which was focused on the analysis of glycopeptide biomarkers by online PBA solid-phase extraction capillary electrophoresis-mass spectrometry (SPE-CE-MS) and, then I was graduated.

Overall, since I started working on my final degree project, I became fascinated with environmental chemistry, due to my concern for the impact of emerging contaminants, such as nano/microplastics, on human health and the preservation of natural ecosystems. Hence, I am excited to enroll in the FoodTraNet program to expand my knowledge about this field as well as to improve my scientific skills and achieve intellectual maturity to pursue a scientific career in academia or industry.

Contact: Coming soon

ESR 15: Nayyer Rehman

Consumer awareness and perception Host: WRG Europe Ltd: Supervisor: Dr. Vicky Edkins
Lidija Fras Zemljič

Consumer interaction with food and food ingredients has always fascinated me. I knew early on that my passion was to explore consumption patterns and what connects us to food. My name is Nayyer Rehman and I am the ESR15 candidate for the MSCA-ITN project: FoodTraNet. My journey began with a bachelor's degree in Food Engineering from Pakistan. Simultaneously, I worked as a freelancer for startups and SMEs in the food industry. The next phase of my life started with a joint master's degree in International Food Business and Consumer Studies in Germany. I worked on projects in innovative product development, consumer science and marketing. My interests led me to several student assistant positions during my studies. I worked in the Quality, Product Development, and Marketing departments as a technical support while contributing to course literature and student projects.

In 2019, I worked for a German-based B2B company dealing with ingredients and integrated solutions for food and beverages in the global marketing department and product development. As part of my master's thesis, I took a project with another B2B company in Germany to modify the company's quality management system to focus on consumer health and safety. This also prompted me to look at the challenges SMEs face and possible methods to increase awareness of food quality and consumption patterns. My ambition to further research consumer behaviour has led me to undertake a PhD at WRG Europe Ltd in the UK with support from JSIPS in Slovenia. I will focus on developing new approaches and models for more effective communication with consumers in relation to food labelling claims, new foods, circular economy, and acceptance of new nanotechnologies.

In my spare time, I enjoy reading about all sorts of things, travelling for culture and heritage, and connecting with people over their favourite food!

Contact: Nayyer@wrgeurope.co.uk