Master of Ceremony: Dr. Luca Consoli

I am Associate Professor of Science and Society at the Institute for Science in Society, Faculty of Science, Radboud University. After my PhD in theoretical physics, I turned my attention to the ethical and societal implications of science and technology. My current research and teaching activities focus on the embedding of scientific practices in ‘the broader context’. This means both inside and outside the scientific community. As far as the first is concerned, I am interested in questions of scientific ethics (what do scientists themselves consider ‘good science’ and why?), using as a virtue-ethical approach. As far as the second one is concerned, relevant issues for me are the role of normativity in expertise and the concept of RRI (Responsible Research and Innovation).

Dr. Alex van Silfhout (Utrecht University)

“Using Ferrofluids for the Separation of Materials”

A common way of separating materials with significantly different densities is to submerge them in a liquid which has a density in between the materials of interest. The material with a lower density than the liquid will float, whereas the material with a higher density will sink. This sink-float technique works independent of size and shape of the material, but it has several limitations in its application. For instance, in order to separate materials of higher density exotic liquids must be used. Furthermore, only two fractions of material can be obtained in a single step. In this talk, an improved separation technique will be presented, partially based on the same principle. Using a ferrofluid as the separation medium, the apparent density of the liquid can be tuned by external magnetic fields. This allows for a much wider range of densities which can be separated, as well as the separation of more than two fractions of material in a single step. The general composition of such a ferrofluid will be presented, as well as the colloidal interactions between the magnetic particles inside this fluid.

Curriculum Vitae:
In 2016 I obtained my MSc degree in Molecular Life Science, with a specialization in Physical Chemistry, from the Wageningen University. During my master, I worked on the design and fabrication of NMR microcoils under supervision of prof. Aldrik Velders, as well as the synthesis and conjugation of gold nanoparticles. For my PhD research, I joined the Van ‘t Hoff Laboratory for Physical and Colloid Chemistry at the Utrecht University. In 2020, I received my doctorate degree for my research on magnetic sedimentation in aqueous ferrofluids. Currently, I am working as a research and education assistant in the same group in Utrecht.

Dr. Joep Beumer (Hubrecht Institute)

“Snake Venom Gland Organoids to Study Toxin Production”

Snakebite annually kills more than 100.000 people globally, while disabling a multitude of that. Together with colleagues, I developed the first culture system from snake venom glands and described the cellular heterogeneity that allows the production of the complex venom, which consists of dozens of individual toxins. Until then, it was unknown whether snake venom was produced by a homogenous (containing all toxins in individual cells) or heterogenous pool of toxin-producing cells. Currently I am establishing organoids from other non-mammalian species to study unique biology, including the python intestine.

Curriculum Vitae:
I received my MSc degree in Cancer, Stem Cells and Developmental Biology at the University of Utrecht. In 2015, I started my PhD at the Hans Clevers lab at the Hubrecht Institute of Developmental Biology and Stem Cell Research. Here I studied studied lineage specification in the gut using intestinal organoids. I discovered that BMP signaling patterns intestinal lineages along the crypt-villus axis in the gut. I further constructed organoid models of coronavirus infections in the gut, showing that intestinal enteroyctes can foster SARS-CoV-2 replications. I graduated cum laude in 2020, and continued as a postdoctoral fellow in the Clevers lab.

MSc. Sevil Sahin (TU Twente)

“Gotta Catch ‘Em: Tuning Ion Selectivity with Polyelectrolyte Multilayers”

Ion-selective desalination is of relevance for multiple applications such as removing hazardous ions from wastewater, reducing sodium concentration in irrigation water, and removing hardness ions from saltwater. Furthermore, harvesting high-value metal ions (e.g. lithium, copper) and nutrients (e.g. phosphate, nitrate) from saltwater is important from a sustainability viewpoint. In order to remove the target ions from water, we made use of an electro-driven desalination technique called capacitive deionization (CDI). In a CDI operation, anions and cations in the saltwater migrates towards the electrodes of opposite polarity with an applied potential, and are stored inside the pores of the electrodes. CDI operates in low voltages (≈1 V) and does not require high pressure, heat or harsh chemicals. Although CDI is an environmentally friendly desalination technique, it is not designed to differentiate among the ions with the same type of charge. In order tune the ion selectivity in CDI, we implemented ion-selective polyelectrolyte multilayers (PEMs) that can allow the ions of interest to pass through, concurrently rejecting the rest of the ions present in the solution. Introducing PEM coatings in CDI is a promising approach, given the large toolbox of available polyelectrolytes and variety of polyelectrolyte functionalization schemes (e.g. ionophore-containing PEMs).

Curriculum Vitae:
I received my BSc degree from the Department of Chemistry at Istanbul Technical University, and my MSc degree from the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Istanbul University, Turkey. During my MSc research, I synthesized porphyrin derivatives for photodynamic therapy. In 2017, I started to do a PhD in the Laboratory of Organic Chemistry at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. My doctoral research includes, among others, the use of polyelectrolyte multilayers for tuning ion selectivity in capacitive deionization. Parallel to finishing up my PhD thesis, I work as a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Molecular Nanofabrication at University of Twente.

Dr. Pieter-Jan Haas (UMC Utrecht)

“Promises and Pitfalls of Bacteriophages”

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria and were discovered at the beginning of the 20th century. Bacteriophages are the most abundant organic particles on our planet and they outnumber bacteria 10:1 and have a huge impact on global carbon and nitrogen cycles. Bacteriophages have been used in a variety of scientific applications ranging from basic biological research and protein optimization to drug discovery. After their discovery the therapeutic potential of bacteriophages was postulated. However the discovery of highly effective antibiotics tempered the interest in the Western world. The steady increase in antibiotic resistance that we observe nowadays and the limited amount of new antibacterial drug candidates renewed the interest in bacteriophages. Despite their discovery happened over 100 years ago relatively little is known about the infection dynamics and behavior of bacteriophages. Few studies were performed on the effectiveness of clinical application of bacteriophages. I’ll address if and how they can be used in treating bacterial infections and what hurdles on scientific research and health regulations need to be taken in order to use bacteriophages as a therapeutic agent. Are bacteriophages the solution the antibiotic resistance problem as is claimed by some?

Curriculum Vitae:
After I finished medical school I did a PhD in microbiology studying the interaction between pathogenic bacteria and the immune system. I used bacteriophages to identify proteins using a thechnique called phage display. After my PhD I did a specialization in medical microbiology. I work as a clinician in diagnosing and treating infections. I currently study the interaction between bacteriophages, bacteria and the human immune system and how this affects the application of bacteriophages in clinical practice. Also I’m aiming on stimulating the use and study of therapeutic bacteriophages in The Netherlands.