PhD study trip

PhD trip of MIB and SSB 2013: USA and Canada

PhD candidates of the chair groups Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology (SSB) and Laboratory of Microbiology (MIB) went on a study trip to Canada and the USA in the spring of 2013.

27 PhD students - new contacts from foreign countries - transfer of knowledge and experience - ongoing international research trends - collaborations.

PhD trip of MIB and SSB: USA and Canada (East coast) from April 29 to May 10, 2013

Overview of the trip

On Saturday 27th of April of 2013 a group of enthusiastic PhD students from the Laboratory of Microbiology and the Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology embarked in one of the busiest airports in Europe towards one of the oldest cities in the United States: Boston, Massachusetts. The American spring could not have received the visitors from Europe in a better way, since the great weather helped the travelers to recover from the jetlag and the sunny Sunday passed by wandering and sightseeing in this historical city.


Fully recovered and eager to officially kick off the study trip, the 27 PhD students led by Dr. Stan Brouns aimed for the iGEM’s headquarters located in Cambridge ( Once in Cambridge the program of the first day continued with the visit to the Civil & Environmental Engineering department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( The rest of the week was spent around the region of New England where the group visited New England BioLabs (, Harvard Medical School (, the Microbiology Department of the University of Massachusetts ( and the biofuel company Mascoma (


The first week of scientific talks and discussions was over and it was time to have a break, enjoy the weekend and travel some miles west on a road trip that would bring the group back together (as part of the group staid in New York) in a beautiful valley at the south of the Cayuga Lake where the city of Ithaca is located. In this city another Ivy League University was waiting for the group: Cornell University. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (, the Department of Microbiology ( and the Department of Crop and Soil Sciences ( organized a joined symposium to host the visitors from Wageningen University. A tour on the main campus marked the end of the study trip program in the United States; it was time to travel to Canada, but this was not done without spending some touristic time taking pictures of the hydroelectric powerful Niagara Falls.

Once in Canada the scientific exchange of ideas continued at the University of Guelph where the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology ( held a “Microbiology-Transatlantic Cross-talk” together with the Department of Animal and Poultry Science ( and the Guelph Food Research Centre (


A research symposium titled “New Frontiers in Biotechnology” brought us to one of the two largest cities of Canada and the capital of Ontario, namely Toronto. Hosted by BioZone at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering (, this symposium was the last joined scientific event as on Friday 10th of May, the group was divided in two. One group had the opportunity to visit the University of Ontario, Institute of Technology in Oshawa ( while the other group stayed in Toronto at the Lab of Sergio Peisajovich ( The last day exploring Toronto as tourists marked the end of the eventful and inspiring trip.

During the two weeks of visits to universities, research centers and companies, important scientific knowledge and experiences were shared by oral presentations, posters sessions and laboratory/facility tours. Moreover, the opportunity that the PhD students had for personal discussion with the researchers of the above mentioned institutes is highly remarkable.

Thus we are glad to emphasize that the aim of the study trip to stimulate the transfer of knowledge of the ongoing international research trends as well as to strengthen existing partnerships, to make new contacts and to look for opportunities of collaboration around the world has been satisfactory fulfilled.

The organizing committee of the PhD Trip 2013 USA-Canada would like to acknowledge the effort of the participants for their interest in taking the most and the best of this experience but also to all the sponsors that made this trip possible as well as the hosting institutions in the USA and Canada for their kind reception. A more detailed description of the scientific program, and the sponsors that supported this trip can be read in this report.

The committee,

Corina Ceapa, Floor Hugenholtz, Noora Ottman, Javier Ramiro Garcia, Teunke van Rossum, Sebastiaan Spaans and Vicente T. Sedano Núñez.

June, 2013, Wageningen, The Netherlands

This PhD trip was not possible without our sponsors. We would like to thank them for their support!

  • Applikon Biotechnology
  • Baseclaer
  • Bio connect
  • BIOzymTC
  • Danone
  • Greiner Bio-One
  • Infors
  • Laboratory of Microbiology
  • Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology
  • LEB
  • Middelhovenfund
  • VLAG

The organizers were:

  • Corina Ceapa, Laboratory of Microbiology & Danone, Molecular Ecology Group
  • Floor Hugenholtz, Laboratory of Microbiology, Molecular Ecology Group
  • Vicente Sedano Nunez, Laboratory of Microbiology, Microbial Physiology Group
  • Bas Spaans, Laboratory of Microbiology, Bacterial Genetics Group
  • Javier Ramiro Garcia, Laboratory of Systems and Synthetic Biology, Computational Systems Biology Group
  • Noora Ottman, Laboratory of Microbiology, Molecular Ecology Group
  • Teunke van Rossum, Laboratory of Microbiology, Bacterial Genetics Group

Every two years PhD candidates from the Laboratories of Microbiology and Systems & Synthetic Biology  organize an international study tour.

In order to explore the realms of science and research, every two years, about 30 young PhD students of MIB and SSB go abroad where cutting edge scientific research advancements are discussed through thorough interactive meetings. As earlier trips had been very useful in establishing connections, scientific networks, and collaborations, in 2013 PhD students of MIB and SSB will also embark upon a target of getting themselves amidst of the latest scientific research affairs. Mini symposiums, facility tours, poster presentations and oral presentation will be carried out in a systematic fashion, supervised by a senior scientist who will accompany the PhD students along the trip.