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WallTraC

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Secondments

As part of their training, WallTraC researchers are seconded to partner labs in order to complement their training with interdisciplinary or intersectorial skills. Here you can read how they experienced these secondment periods.

Dhivyaa Rajasundaram, PhD student at University of Potsdam, was seconded to INRA from March to June 2014. On her last day in Nantes, she gave us a few words about her experience at INRA:

Dhivyaa in Nantes

"My three-month secondment to INRA, Nantes was a very useful one for my PhD. I had the opportunity to learn about spectroscopy (Infrared and Raman) and the image processing methods to couple images from these two techniques.

I would like to thank Marie-Françoise for explaining me from scratch, the basics of images to the application of pre-processing and normalisation methods and algorithms. Also, I would like to extend my thanks to Fabienne, Paul, Sylvie, and Anne-Laure for the Infrared experiments in Arabidopsis. It was very pleasant to work in INRA and all my colleagues were super friendly. It was also nice to spend time with my other WallTraC colleagues Alex, Fanny and Merve.

Overall, I enjoyed my stay in Nantes very much and of course loved the French food". Dhivyaa

Valérie Cornuault, PhD student at the University of Leeds was seconded to Bayer for two weeks in February 2014. On her last day, she gave us a few words about what this experience brought her:

"It was a great pleasure for me to go back to the beautiful city of Ghent and spend two weeks in Bayer CropScience.

This secondment gave me the opportunity to analyse several of my samples using equipment which unfortunately we do not have access to in Leeds University. In addition, I got to learn gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) and linkage analysis which are very important techniques in the cell wall field. Jean-Luc was very helpful and despite some technical problems we were able to complete all the analysis.

In addition, these two weeks gave me a good feeling of what it is like to work in an international company, which I found very valuable.

I would like to thank Frank Meulewaeter for being so welcoming, Nadine and Karel for being very nice and fun lab mates and to the other Bayer employees for their kindness. These two weeks were a lot of fun and in the same time very useful for the end of my PhD." Val

Valérie Cornuault at Bayer

Xiaoyuan Guo, PhD student at U.Copenhagen, was seconded to U.Leeds in the last quarter of 2013. The purpose of her secondment was to learn different miscroscopy techinques. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience: :

Xiaoyuan Guo

"I spent a pleasant three-month stay in Leeds and it was my honor to work with the friendly and talented colleagues there in Professor Paul Knox’s group.

With great help from Sue Marcus and Mercedes, I learned different sample embedding and section methods which are really useful for my project. And I am more confident in microscope after Paul showed me the operation and shared his tips with me. The kind encouragement and unreserved discussion from Paul helped me to keep up when I was frustrated. I also learned the expertise of the group, Epitope Detection Chromatography, from talented Valerie. And the results are consistent to my previous data, which makes both of us very happy.

After learning so many new techniques, I just felt this secondment so useful but also short. I wish I could stay longer. I want to express my great thanks to all the colleagues in the lab and all the Chinese friends I met there, together, they made this experience unforgettable for me!" Xiaoyuan

Kate Cameron, PhD student at U.Lisbon was seconded to U.Newcastle in the last quarter of 2013. While she was there, she worked on the interactions between cohesin and dockerin modules. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

"Returning to the best city in the North East, and where my University days began 8 years ago was really exciting for me. Getting the opportunity to work with Professor Harry Gilbert and his ‘team’ in Newcastle was a bonus!

During my secondment I had the opportunity to design and carry out some really interesting experiments, to further investigate the interactions between cohesin and dockerin modules. I was made very welcome in the lab and University as a whole. They gave me full access to all their facilities to explore my work, with the opportunity to use SPR (surface plasmon resonance) to determine binding affinities and materials required to perform some really fun ELISAs.

I am very grateful to be part of WallTraC, especially when opportunities such as this arise to further enhance my PhD experience. I will also say a big Thank You to Harry & Co. for such a memorable stay and helping me to get great results! Always a treat to be in the Toon!" Kate

Kate Cameron

Immacolata Venditto, PhD student at U.Lisbon was seconded to U.Newcastle in the last quarter of 2013. While she was there, she worked on the structure and function of a variety of carbohydrate binding modules. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

Immacolata in Newcastle

"Newcastle is really a nice city, I enjoyed living there and I had a great time. Prof. Harry Gilbert is a welcoming person and with him I could progress for my final work.All his team was friendly and the WallTraC colleague Jeff was very helpful in the lab!

During my secondment I could continue the work done in Lisbon, but in the same time I had the pleasure to learn new techniques as: ITC, TLC, HPLC.I’m happy that I could do experiments with enzymes and to have the chance to improve my knowledge about it.

Being in UK, I had the opportunity to go around and to visit London and Edinburgh! I’m really happy of my experience and I want to thank Prof. Harry Gilbert for his great supervision." Imma

Dhivyaa Rajasundaram, PhD student at University of Potsdam, was seconded to Bayer for three weeks right after the end of Training Event 5. On her last day in Ghent, she gave us a few words about her experience at Bayer:

" My short secondment to Bayer CropScience in Gent was useful for me to understand the cotton data I had from Jean-Luc.

I enjoyed working in the company based environment and it was a complete new experience for me. During my stay, I was working on two datasets, one concerning the cotton glycan array and the other RNA seq data from cotton. I was able to understand the data better as Jean-Luc explained clearly what was done in these experiments. Also, it was good to see how the monosaccharide and linkage analysis of cotton fibers is carried out in the lab.

Thanks to Frank for the discussions and also to Nadine & my other lab mates for the nice working environment. Special thanks to Jean-Luc for being so patient to explain me the experiments he does and of course for the French Crêpes & Tartiflette.

Gent is a beautiful city to be and it was nice living there. " Dhivyaa

Dhivyaa in Ghent

Fanny Buffetto, PhD student at INRA, was seconded to U.Copenhagen from April to June 2013. The purpose of her secondment was to characterize the epitope of new antibodies using the glycan micro-array technology. As she returned to France, she gave us a few words about her experience in Denmark:

Fanny Buffetto in Bayer

"I spent a sunny spring at University of Copenhagen. I met really nice people who were very friendly and helpful all over the three months.

I came to use glycan micro-arrays to characterize the epitope recognition of antibodies I produced in Nantes. I could test 121 hypothetical epitopes which were collected by William Willats' lab at the University of Copenhagen. My antibodies happened to have a new recognition profile. We also had time to test them on microscopy and they bound to Arabidopsis thaliana roots. These expected results were the outcome of one year and half of work." Fanny

Mercedes Hernandez, PhD student at U. Leeds was seconded to Bayer from April to July 2013. While she was there, she prepared samples of developing cotton fibres for microscopy and biochemical analysis. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

"I really enjoyed my time in Gent, it was a great experience working in a large international company like Bayer.

This secondment was very important for my PhD, as we collected and started the analysis of a large set of samples made possible due to the facilities available at Bayer. I also learned new techniques that I will need in Leeds, and I gained valuable knowledge in mass spectrometry. The results from this work will give us a better understanding of the changes that occur in the cotton fibre cell wall during development.

It was nice to have Jean-Luc guiding me through all this, I am very grateful to him for his help and for keeping such a good mood even after long hours of work. I also want to thank Frank Meulewaeter for his advices on the project, and Florence Goubet, for helping us out with some technical tips, and to everybody in the lab, they all were very kind and helpful.

And what a beautiful location! I loved living in Gent, I will definitely miss Belgian beer and some good friends I have made over there." Mercedes

Mercedes Hernandez

Xiaoyuan Guo, PhD student at U.Copenhagen, was seconded to Bayer in May and June 2013. The purpose of her secondment was to prepare samples for glycomic and transcriptomic analysis of developing cotton fiber. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

Xiaoyuan Guo at Bayer

"It’s been a really treasurable experience for me to visit and work at Bayer for one month. I had a lot of fun working with nice colleagues in both greenhouse and lab. In the greenhouse, I saw real cotton plants for the first time in my life! I could see their colorful flowers grow and I collected cotton bolls at different development stages for my experiments. In one month, not only I gained more knowledge and techniques, but also I got a better understanding of teamwork. I have appreciated a lot the help from Jean-Luc, Mercedes, Greet and other colleagues in the lab, and the valuable discussions with Frank and Florence. Pleasant company from Jean-Luc and Mercedes made the stay more comfortable and home-like for me.

This secondment also provided me an opportunity to understand more about the other WallTraCers’ projects, which is very helpful to promote cooperations between us.

Last but not least, Gent is a beautiful city to visit and a cozy city to stay. Belgian beer, waffle and mussels are strongly recommended to add to your must-taste list ☺." Xiaoyuan

Immacolata Venditto, PhD student at U.Lisbon was seconded to U.Copenhagen in the first quarter of 2013. The purpose of her secondment was to study binding specificity of CBMs by glycan microarray. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

"I’m happy of my secondment in the U. of Copenhagen. I take this opportunity to thank Professor William Willats and his group for giving me a warm welcome but also for all the help I got in protein screening.
Julia helped me to test the proteins using Chromogenic Substrates while Maja and Silvia helped me with Glycan Microarray Technology. Behind that, I enjoyed to see Xiaoyuan ‘s work and understanding better her project. I’m happy with the results obtained, so I can say that my secondment there was really fruitful for my personal experience and for my project.
The climate in Copenhagen is quite different from southern Italy, but even so, I could ride my bike everyday (even under the snow!). I love riding on bike, and Copenhagen is the best place for it, so I could really enjoy this experience!" Imma

Immacolata Venditto in Copenhagen

Fanny Buffetto, PhD student at INRA, spent two weeks at Bayer in the first quarter of 2013. The purpose of her secondment was to learn a new technique and apply it to her samples. After, her secondment to Bayer, she left and went to U.Copenhagen to carry out more experiments. As she arrived in Denmark, she gave us a few words about how she had lived the experience in Belgium:

Fanny Buffetto in Bayer

"It was very interesting to have a secondment in an international company like Bayer.
Jean-Luc, Nadine and Frank were very welcoming and helpful. This exchange gave me the opportunity to learn a new technic for oligosaccharide separation. Being in a new environment with other scientists is a nice way for me to share results, technics and biological knowledge.
I am now at the university of Copenhagen to use the glycan micro-array technic. Another environment and again a lot to learn for very expected results. To be continued…". Fanny

Julia Schückel, post-doctoral researcher at U.Copenhagen was seconded to U.Newcastle from November to December of 2012. The purpose of her secondment was to overexpress, purify and characterise recombinant proteins. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

"Starting from mid-November until Christmas, I had the pleasure of visiting Harry Gilbert's lab at the University in Newcastle.
This secondment was both enjoyable and fruitful. I overexpressed, purified and characterised 3 recombinant proteins. I gained experience in techniques including ITC measurements, ligand affinity electrophoresis and in methods for crystallization. Harry’s group was very welcoming and inclusive and I quickly integrated and enjoyed the scientific discussions and feedback.
Being back to the UK felt to me like coming home. In my free time, I visited Edinburgh and York to see my friends, whom I had not seen since moving to Denmar". Julia

JuliaSchückel2

António Sousa, PhD student at CP Kelco, was seconded to INRA in the last quarter of 2012. His secondment was mainly focused on polysaccharide characterisation and analysis. On his last day, he gave us a few words about how he had lived this experience:

Antonio Sousa at INRA

 " Looking back to September, when I started my secondment to INRA-Nantes, I really feel I progressed a lot in my work. The constant support from Marie-Christine Ralet and our meetings allowed me to improve a lot of my skills in pectin chemistry analysis.
The work environment at INRA, besides being motivating and challenging was friendly and cosy. With the daily help from 'le infatigable' Alexandre Thébaud and Merve Kaya as well as all the other colleagues, my stay at the lab was easy.
Nantes is a beautiful, lively city and I was lucky to meet and become friends with a lot of people, that made sure I could get to know the wonderful french culture.” António.

Praveen Krishnamoorthy, PhD student at Max Planck I., was seconded to U.Leeds in the last quarter of 2012. His secondment involved immunolabelling with various antibodies produced in Paul's lab to see how they bind to leaf and root sections. During his last week, he gave us a few words about how he had lived this experience:

" I arrived in Leeds in September to spend three months in Prof. Paul Knox' lab as part of the WallTraC Marie Curie project, and the working atmosphere was great during these months. Discussions with Sue Marcus and Paul have also given valuable tips about staining techniques as work progressed.
My WallTraC colleagues Mercedes Hernandez and Valérie Cornuault were also very helpful in the lab and have been good friends too!
Last but not least: The weather in Leeds was surprisingly nice to me! It was sunny most of the time and I didn't expect this at all in England at this time of the year. Guess I have been pretty lucky :) ” Praveen.

Praveen Krishnamoorthy at U.Leeds

Jean-Luc Runavot, Post-doctoral researcher at Bayer was seconded to U.Leeds in November 2012. The purpose of his secondment was to detect and localise polysaccharides from cotton fibres using microscopy. On his last day, he gave us a few words about how he had lived this experience:

Jean-Luc Runavot at the University of Leeds

"I 've just finished my one-month secondment in Paul Knox’s lab in the University of Leeds. It was a really nice month with people like Sue Marcus and Mercedes Hernandez always ready to help me for my experiments and Paul Knox always available for a discussion about interesting or unusual results.
Going there allowed me to get lots of good quality results and interaction with people that are very good in microscopy and sample labeling with specific antibodies.
The secondment also allowed me to better understand what Mercedes' project is about, which is particularly interesting for me as we are both working on cotton fibres with further close collaborations expected.
I would finish saying that a German Christmas market in the middle of the town was quite an unexpected finding ! ” Jean-Luc.

Jeff X Zhang, PhD student at the University of Newcastle was seconded U.Leeds in July and August 2012. His secondment involved immunolabelling with various antibodies produced in Paul Knox's lab. On his last day, he gave us a few words about how he had lived this experience:":

The work in Leeds was so smooth and productive. Thanks to Prof Paul Knox's enthusiasm and the great help from all people in the Knox lab. Working with antibodies is absolutely fun as it produces colourful and spectacular images of plant cell walls. Besides, what I experienced was not only top-notch science, but also wonderful Yorkshire culture. GO LEEDS! ” Jeff.

Jeff at U.Leeds

Merve Kaya, PhD student at INRA was seconded to CP Kelco in the second quarter of 2012. She produced several pectin samples at pilot scale using different raw materials (orange, lemon and lime peels) and different extraction processes. On her last day, she gave us a few words about how she had lived this experience:

Merve Kaya at CP Kelco ApS

" I have just completed a three-month secondment at CP Kelco pectin plant in Lille Skensved in Denmark. I produced industrial pectin from different citrus plants. The chemical analytical techniques were slightly different than the techniques that I used to apply at INRA, which makes the samples comparable with the samples produced at INRA.
I sincerely thank to Dr. Susanne SØRENSEN for her great supervision. Also, I visited many museums in Denmark with Citrus Club members at CP Kelco. I learned a lot about Scandinavian history and culture. I really enjoyed a lot being in Denmark and working at CP Kelco. ” Merve.

Jeff X Zhang, PhD student at the University of Newcastle was seconded to INRA in the second quarter of 2012. He produced samples of rhamnogalacturonan II (RGII) from red wine for his future experiments in Newcaslte. On his last day, he gave us a few words about how he had lived this experience:

"The secondment to INRA was very pleasant, as I 've learnt a lot about chromatography, fractioning and purification. Also working with huge quantity of red wine has been so fun and it has definitely become an unforgettable experience in my life.
It's quite amazing to see how much you can learn from the lab rotation how much it broadens your knowledge background. Thanks to the great help from Marie-Christine Ralet and Marie-Jeanne Crepeau, the work was so efficient and we got more RGII than we had planned! I also very much appreciate Alexandre's role in creating such a positive environment and taking care of all the issues especially when you're in a foreign country.
Oh! and one last thing: French food is gorgeous!” Jeff.

Jeff X Zhang at INRA

Valérie Cornuault, PhD student at the University of Leeds was seconded to INRA in the first quarter of 2012. On her last day, she gave us a few words about what this experience brought her:

Valérie Cornuault at INRA

“My secondment to INRA in Nantes was very useful to me. It gave me the opportunity to meet and work with a lot of members of the WallTraC project. It ‘s been a truly rewarding experience for me as I’ve learned a lot of new protocols and lab tricks. Also, getting to discuss with people from another lab has allowed me to understand more about my own PhD subject, especially because they have an extensive knowledge of sugars chromatography. During these three months, not only I’ve been able to purify low-branched RG-I from potato, which was the aim of this secondment, I’ve also been able to use the lab equipment to do my own research.
I think this secondment has been a real chance for me to improve my knowledge of cell wall composition, sugars biochemistry and my lab skills. Furthermore, I’ve met several cell wall scientists and enhanced my professional network. I’m very grateful to M.C. Ralet’s lab to have been so welcoming and to have taught me so many technics!” Val.