Today, it is my turn to introduce myself. I’m Pepijn Beekman, ORC PhD student and webmaster of this website. I joined the ORC study trip to Denmark and Sweden in 2017 and was in the organizing committee at the time. Next year I will have the great fortune to get to join to the (hopefully) sunny Israel. At that time I will be (hopefully) 31 years old, married and father of a 1-year-old son, Zaphod. I live in Almelo, a town 100 km away from Wageningen and 20 km away from the University of Twente, where I do about half my experiments. The idea is that I do surface chemistry in the lab here at Organic Chemistry and then take those chips to the UT where I use them, for instance at the lab of Medical Cell BioPhysics for capturing of extracellular vesicles (EV). These are sub-micron biological particles found in all bodily fluids. We want to study their potential as biomarker for e.g. cancer diagnostics. Their size complicates their handling and quantification tremendously, so we need strict protocols for isolation and sensitive methods of detection. For more information about my work, check out my abstract on the main page or better yet, contact me, I’m happy to share.
Chemistry is more of a tool for me than something I focus all my effort on; I apply it to biological topics, together with a strong physics perspective (e.g. for microfluidics). This multidisciplinarity has always been a characteristic of my training; I studied Bsc Advanced Technology and MSc Nanotechnology at the University of Twente. Both programmes feature mainly physics, but are set up in a very broad way, allowing for applications in e.g. chemistry and life sciences. I believe this kind of flexibility is an imporant quality for the modern day scientist, where the ever-growing complexity of technology requires us to adapt to multiple different fields in order to improve. I am very much looking forward to coming in touch with a whole range of different fields during the next PhD trip. I really enjoyed the fresh perspective on the grand scheme of some technologies that was continuously offered during the previous trip. Moreover, the ensueing lab tours awarded a look on the normally obscure details of the work itself and on the environment that enables the development of these techniques. I found that it really inspired a revived flow of creativity and I’m confident that next year will be an as instructive experience.