Two Clarkson Chemistry graduate students, Madhuri Jayathirtha and Danielle Whitham, spent a little over two months in Iasi, Romania, for research and cultural exchange. Their travel was supported through the active Erasmus+ exchange program between Clarkson University and AL. I. Cuza University Iasi, Romania. The students were hosted by Dr. Alina Brindusa Petre, a Chemistry professor, who visited Clarkson first as an Erasmus+ exchange fellow and then as a Fulbright faculty.
Jayathirtha and Whitham are Chemistry graduate students in the Biochemistry and Proteomics Laboratories, led by Professor of Chemistry & Biomolecular Science Costel C. Darie.
The research focused on the optimization of a method for peptidomics analysis of serum and breast milk samples, which is part of the research project on investigating biomarkers for the detection of breast cancer, funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health (R15CA260126).
“We have been learning MALDI (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization) to analyze human serum and milk samples mentored by Dr. Alina Petre” said Whitham. “We have learned the sample preparation needed for MALDI TOF (Time of Flight) mass spectrometry analysis using different matrices. We are currently learning data interpretation. We are extremely thankful to our host Dr. Alina Petre for generously helping us every step of the way. We are truly honored to be Erasmus+ exchange students.”
In addition to being Erasmus students, Jayathirtha and Whitham also attended the JASSY summer school. The JASSY summer school is held every year at the Alexandru Ioan Cuza University for two weeks and offers many modules such as Life Sciences, Hard Sciences, Finance and Risk Management, Human Resources and Tourism.
“We chose the life sciences module coordinated by Dr. Alina Petre, as it is closely related to our research”, said Jayathirtha. “We have been enjoying the summer school as we have had the opportunity to meet people from different countries such as China, India, Venezuela, Italy, Netherlands, Moldova, Finland, and Germany and interact with them on a daily basis. This has helped us learn different cultures and perspectives. The classes have been very interactive and engaging. Evenings were organized with activities such as Iasi city tour, visit to the palace of culture, opera theatre, wine tasting, hiking and kayaking, which has been a true cultural exchange and also extremely fun. We are very grateful to our host Dr. Alina Petre for recommending the summer school. This is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” ended Jayathirtha.