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Gaming in Education: Hegemonic Project.

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“Will China overtake the US in the future as a hegemony?” was investigating Varnavas in his master thesis during his Masters in International Political Economy at the King’s College in London. He was so passionate about his research that in 2018 he decided to develop a board game out of it. He called it: Hegemony. As an author of a board game herself, Researchista is a big fun of such projects! Gaming in higher education is a recent trend and is increasingly keeping students in tension. Here is what you can discover about Hegemony. 

Developing a game on politics, is like developing a game on taxes. Hard to put in place and even harder to penetrate the market, as just another board game. It is specific, educational and special. The risk is that it can be life-changing. Ambitious scholars and social entrepreneurs at heart like Varnavas Timotheou, a Cypriot visionary who is not easily intimidated by political quests people have on politics made a  breakthrough on the board game market and in education.

His board game that is about to leave the protoype/demo phase into board game production. Would that be related to the upcoming US elections? To the corona virus effects on economy and politics? It is difficult to say. However, it is a certain fact that people want to learn more about politics.

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First time, world’s largest board game fair SPIEL ESSEN2019 dedicates an entire hall to educational games.

It is difficult to not acknowledge the importance of politics and voting and Hegemony provides with answers. It teaches you from academic reliable resources about how political coalitions, clashes and thinking is formed and changes in different scenarios, how YOU as an ordinary citizen can easier and better understand politics… isn’t that a handy a game?!

With <3,

R.

 

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Academia Business Community knowledge research research communication Researcher Special Guest

Entrepreneurship and Immigration:

Have you ever wonder how moving to a new country has inspired or made people open a new business and become an entrepreneur? Dr Nur (2015) found a direct link between immigrant entrepreneurship and success longevity in their businesses through innovation and sustainability. These successes lead to the creation of global brands, such as Heinz, Avon, Dell, Amazon, Estee Lauder and a hundred others.

Greetings from Italy! 

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Dr. Nur Suhaili Binti Ramli, Department of Management, University of Venice, Italy

Dr Nur informs us that despite broad discussions between immigration and entrepreneurship in United States, Australia or Canada little research is done to investigate the success rates of the immigrant entrepreneurs in the European host countries, the longevity of immigrant businesses, survival rate during crises periods or scale-up potential, and various business strategies implemented by the immigrants.
To fight the myth: “Migrants still our jobs”, on-going research question: Does the immigrant entrepreneurship positively contribute to the European countries’ socio-economic development?
For example, the recent CENSIS and collaboration with Roma-Tre University (2019) found on a growing number of immigrant entrepreneurs and a positive causal effect of immigrant entrepreneurship on the national economy in the last ten years. The findings are beneficial for the internationalisation strategy as well as for the job creation, contribution to the economic growth, and support to the local government during the economic crisis. More findings of this sort can be useful for the EU Government’s decision making in drafting policies to reduce problems within the area (part of migration issue). Therefore, Dr Nur and her collaborator Prof Finotto are interested in examining the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon in Europe on a comparative approach and over time and is hoped to add significant findings.
The subject of the study (immigrant entrepreneurs) has been conducted in Dr. Nur’s earlier research that summarises during the Great Depression and Second World War, immigrant entrepreneurs put more endeavour into marketing innovation, while the non-immigrant entrepreneurs (native) are more likely to improve their product through innovation, retaining the same product line and target market. Among other things, a compelling finding demonstrates that immigrant entrepreneurs started to implement market segmentation, while non-immigrant entrepreneurs ventured into vertical product differentiation, strengthened their quality with product improvement, which increased consumer trust by associating their brands with particular products. Dr. Nur (2016) emphasise that some immigrant entrepreneurs at host country are somewhat patriotic, especially when their host country is facing difficulties. For example, they show support towards local governments during these two periods by helping the US government to survive during wartime, such as more than 50% of facilities at one of an immigrant entrepreneur’s factory and laboratories were made available to the US Government for the production of war items for the armed forces. It provides historical evidence that immigrant entrepreneurship is essential and has a significant contribution to the socio-economic of the host country. Extending from this study, Dr. Nur and Prof. Finotto use a similar research framework to study the phenomenon in the European context.

Several studies on immigration and entrepreneurship between 2010 and 2018 have almost doubled, that focus mainly on the performance of the entrepreneurs and compare businesses created by native and immigrant entrepreneurs by longevity, strategy during crises periods, and by businesses that started small and later, became global brands. However, there is a limited study on the comparative approach to answer these two questions: Why immigrant entrepreneurs have different strategies to business compared to non-immigrant entrepreneurs in Europe over-time? And, How do they recognise entrepreneurial opportunity identification at the host country in Europe differently than the native?, which interest Dr Nur and Prof Finotto to scrutinise the investigation. It is an exciting work-in-progress to follow as it focuses on the European countries when the influx of migration is a critical issue. The preliminary findings from two pilot studies summarise that immigrant entrepreneurs offer job creation to the local community, establish and smoothen business entry barrier between the host and home country, contribute taxes that benefit local pensioners, and create competitive advantage. Dr. Nur and Prof. Finotto are now conducting comprehensive research to confirm the preliminary findings, which updates are available via twitter.

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Furthermore, Prof William R. Kerr and Dr Sari Pekkala Kerr (2017) point out that many policymakers believe that immigrant founders were essential for the revival of the country’s growth and continued recovery from the Great Depression. In contrast, Dr Nahikari Irastorza, and Prof Iñaki Peña-Legazkue (2018) explain that the immigrant entrepreneurs are more likely to quit their businesses earlier than their native competitors. Although there are mixed findings on the business performances and strategies of immigrant entrepreneurs, in general, they can adapt and expand despite the economic crisis with several explanations including on how and why they identify entrepreneurial opportunity at host country differently than the native. In summary, the immigrant entrepreneurship phenomenon must not be excluded from local agendas and discussion, particularly in Europe. With a broad range of evidence on the subject, it concludes that this research area is critical and beneficial for shaping and improving the policy in the future to benefit the economy and society at large in Europe.

 

Further reading:

  1. CENSIS (2019), Available online at http://www.censis.it/7?shadow_comunicato_stampa=121202
  2. Kerr, S.P., & Kerr, W.R. (2017). Immigrant Entrepreneurship. In Measuring Entrepreneurial Businesses:
  3. Current Knowledge and Challenges, 187-249. Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.
  4. Irastorza, N., & Peña-Legazkue, I. (2018). Immigrant entrepreneurship and business survival during the recession:
  5. Evidence from a local economy. The Journal of Entrepreneurship, 27(2), 243-257.
  6. Ramli, N.S., (2016). A comparative study of marketing strategies: the development of cosmetic brands created by diaspora entrepreneurs and non-diaspora entrepreneurs in the US cosmetic industry. [Doctoral dissertation], University of York, United Kingdom.
  7. Ramli, N.S., (2015). Immigrant entrepreneurs on the world’s successful global brands in the cosmetic industry. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences195, 113-122

The authors are currently working on the following project:

A Comparative Study of Entrepreneurial Opportunity Identification between Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Non-Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Europe.

Researcher: Dr Nur Suhaili Binti Ramli  Twitter: DrSuhailiRamli

Funding: Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Supervisor/Collaborator: Professor Vladi Finotto.

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Researchista’s Sparkle

Dear Researchista friend,

Thousands of PhD theses are published every month/year in the world, and thousands and even millions of public money (usually) are invested in the research projects behind the theses, yet only a very-very-very small % of the knowledge shared in these valuable books reach you :/

I started Researchista because I had a dream: I wanted Researchers to be heard and the intellectual effort to be valued. So, I made a board game out of my PhD thesis in hope to inspire other Researchers to connect to the wider audience in a different way.

Budgets on Research communication are usually scarce or most of the times non-existent, simply because after a research study was carried out, the results are used for a certain purpose by policy makers or other parties involved, often forgetting that the general public like you and me can benefit of it greatly also.

I made a game out of my PhD thesis and I hope one day it will reach you as well, online or by paper.

This is not just a game, this is a cause.

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Join Researchista’s cause!

Have a look at the game, share the word, like our page, find us on Instagram.

Homepage

http://www.facebook.com/playyourtaxes.com

http://www.instagram.com/playyourtaxes

The activity of the blog will re-start as soon as possible.

With love for Research,

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(54) Research on MUSIC: microsonic.

I will probably repeat this many times, but one of the challenges at Researchista is to keep my excitement down. Since I started this blog and our Facebook page, I met so many interesting people and the things we discuss are sometimes simply mind-blowing (bam) and this is one of these cases… So, from the left to the right we have 1 half musician/Researcher, 1 composer and 1 half Researcher/musician-amateur, who… how should I put it… joined their forces to create music out of the sounds that human body makes. Wait, what? I will stop here and let you discover this on your own… 

..here they are: Eva, Lucas and Ruth.

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They created “Microsonic” – an interdisciplinary project based music and on microbial communication, or shortly: music & microbes, how original is that! 😀

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here is the microbe, here is the music and here is the Researcher 🙂

The story behind: Both artists and scientists seek to understand aspects of the complex world around us. Despite this common ground, artists and scientists are too often separate in their endeavors. The Academy Honours Programme for Young Artists and Scientists (Netherlands) promotes cross-disciplinary approaches and interactions. The idea is to bridge this gap by bringing together ten artists and ten scientists of diverse backgrounds where they can discuss themes, amongst which: the role of art and science in society.

It was here at this workshop back in 2015 where the three of us met. It was already late, we changed the décor in the meanwhile to a pub, when we got involved into a discussion about communication, its musical aspects and how microbial organisms (e.g. bacterias) are communicating.

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source: internet

The beautiful thing about music is that it is an ultimate abstract art form that is not tied to specific images that connect easily with other disciplines from arts and science. And so, the idea to collaborate on a musical project inspired by microbial communication (aka microbes and bacterias) came into being.

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source: internet

Research about microbial communication via sound signals has only received limited attention due to its technical challenges. Even though electronic devices capable of detecting sounds on microscopic length scales get more advanced every day, the technique is still in its infancy. It is already possible to hear the sound of a large group of microbes – which sounds like white noise – but the devices still need to be developed further to be able to hear the sound of single isolated microbes. Because little is known about this form of communication, Lucas saw a role for himself to play as a composer. Since the communication is inaudible for us human beings, Lucas started to explore how a musical composition out of how this microbial world could possibly sound.

Partituur Microsonic
“Microsonic” partition by Lucas Wiegerink

The Opinion article “When microbial conversations get physical”, Gemma Reguera discusses various forms of microbial communication, which formed the basis for the composition. It appears that the microbial microcosm is a rich sound world on its own. Reguera states that “every particle in a cell has a unique natural frequency of vibration and therefore produces a distinctive sound, very much like voice tonality and pitch in humans”.

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source: internet

Sound waves are generated when objects vibrate. Experiments with yeast cells not only demonstrate that intracellular motions were sufficiently strong enough to propagate across the stiff cell wall, but that they could also generate reproducible acoustic signals.

For our project Microsonic, Lucas composed a soft musical piece, as to give the audience the feeling of a hidden sound world. The public is invited to join on a sound journey into the human body. The microbial world slowly fades into their world. A tape with real sounds stemming from the human body is added to the composition to give the translated communication of microbes a real context. The sound journey starts off with a kind of white noise – unclear, almost inaudible and a bit scratchy – and you start wondering what it is. It is the sound of blood streaming through a vein. Then the zooming starts: more and more internal body sounds are heard, including the creaking of human nerves. But also, by further zooming in you will hear the sound produced by millions and millions of microbes. There the musicians come into the picture. The playing instruments symbolize the several sound signals that microbes use to communicate. Slowly, you get introduced into their microscopic world.

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source: internet

More and more pitched signals become distinguished, first only short ones, but as we zoom further, we hear longer ones as well. The microbial sound world becomes richer and richer; higher and lower pitches occur and the dynamic contrasts intensify. When listening carefully, you will hear that microbes make connections and communicate by taking over each other’s signals. So does the musicians – based on live improvisation. It is at this moment that you as human being can get a glimpse of the communication of microbes and maybe even feel part of their conversation. The composed journey ends with a collective ‘vibrational mode’, when a certain group of microbe cells are ‘in tune’.

The challenge for our composer Lucas was that he was used to thinking in terms of melodies and chords. However, microbial communication via sound signals is not a musical process – still produduces patterns and sounds. As a result, he had to change his approach to composing and relinquish control. Instead, he created a number of frameworks in which the musicians had freedom of movement and become part of the creation process. The subject of communication lends itself very well to this way of making music. The musicians improvise while listening and reacting to each other; they have to communicate to let it work.

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here it how body sounds from within…. https://soundcloud.com/user-354620747/research-on-music-microsonic

Our project is an example of how arts and science that both have the urge to understand and express the complex external world can reinforce each other. This demands certain effort, yes, but is even more rewarding. So had our composer Lucas to let go of his usual approach towards composing. And it is exactly this that makes interdisciplinary collaboration extremely interesting – since it questions the usual approach and way of working. But there is more, interdisciplinary collaboration can support inspiration in each other’s work and reinforce the expression of the complex mechanism in our (microbial) world towards a public. All we can say, go out, open your eyes, take the risk to look outside your usual box”.

The post is written  with Eva van Ooij, Ruth Schmidt (Dutch Institute of Ecology) and Lucas Wiegerink, and was presented at the PAS – Parcours of Art & Science Festival of Maastricht University in 2016. Many thanks to the members of Ensemble 88 – an ensemble specialized in contemporary music. The musical performance was accompanied by a presentation on microbial communication by Ruth.

With love for Research,

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More of Lucas’ compositions:

“The occult beauty of the finite is about that realisation that what is dear to us is also fleeting, and the beauty that lies in such transience. I was inspired to write this piece by the illness and passing away of my mother. As her health worsened, I became increasingly aware of the small pockets of beauty in our lives. Living under the illusion that everything lasts forever, these are easy to miss. But as one faces the loss of something precious, the world is brought into sharper focus”.

Being Arthur: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvTeIy4w-xc&feature=youtu.be
Kameroperahuis in collaboration with Dutch Touring Opera and Opera Days Rotterdam

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(53) Research on MUSIC: Research with music.

This post is dedicated to all supermen and superwomen out there that manage to combine 2 passions, at which they are both good at, in their everyday life. And this my friend, is a setar.

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Please welcome my multi-talented friend, Nasser Davarzani!

Music helps me to focus better. Sometimes when I don’t have motivation for work, I bring my level of concentration by bringing music. It cheers me up.

My PhD research is about the application of statistics in medicine. Last, but not least, I sing and play Iranian traditional music.

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(and no, this is not a presentation for a conference 🙂 Nasser singing, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Research in music

How research helps you advance with your music? When somebody is working with traditional music, it’s important to know about the history of the instrument and  culture of its country.  You must know about the specifications and abilities of your instruments if you are going to play with another instruments. It helps you  to know with which instrument you can combine it.

Is important to know about the structure of the music and about the instrument itself. It helps you to know more about your instrument and how to mix with other instruments. Knowing more about the history helps you more.

You are a PhD student in statistics while you play professional music, how does that work?

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Source: http://www.actuallywecreate.com/music-work
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UGI team, Maastricht University, Netherlands

Music and Research

Every day I work till 18.00 at the university and then I go to music school and practice 1 hour singing, it takes a lot of energy but when I go out I feel re-energized. Then I go home and I practice 1 hour for my instrument.

At least 2 hours of practice for me is a kind of meditation, because all I think about are the notes, music, voice and sound. Sometimes I close my eyes, and I feel my body fully present in the music. The only thing I think about is the sound and the word I should pronounce and the lyrics that I sing. Iranian music is mixed with very old poems and which are full of spiritual concepts. When you sing these kind of poems, you without thinking go into this kind of spiritual mood and you don t think about the world that you live in.

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Karlsruhe, Germany

Most of the time, Iranian music full of love stories and spiritual concepts and unconsciously when you sing these kind of things you feel it fully with your body and to really sing it best you need to understand what you sing and it helps you to go more deep into spiritual things.

 

Post written by Nasser Davarzani, PhD at the Department of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering, also Researcher at the Department of Pathology of Maastricht University and the student of one of the best instrumentalist and composer of Iran, Mr. Hamid Motebassem.

With love for Research,

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(52) Research on MUSIC: lo(ve) story.

This is the Research on MUSIC month and I have a great pleasure to invite Eva van Ooij, a freelance musician and researcher at Maastricht University, to tell us about her discoveries in music and law. It is more than fun than it sounds! 😉 Here she is playing her cielo

Hi!

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Eva van Ooij, cellist and research fellow at ITEM/Maastricht University

Music is everywhere. We cannot escape form it. We hear it when we switch on the radio, go to a concert or watch a movie, but also when we do our groceries or are on the phone, while being forwarded to another phone. Music is and has been around always. And so are the musicians.

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Source: Eva van Ooij.

Musicians travel while reaching their public, playing on a special occasion or place… This has been the case since many centuries and worked well. For example, London in the 18thCentury was a magnet for music lovers and music producers. In the opera and theatre houses many foreign musicians composed and played, while bringing their own knowledge and way of interpretation…. The same is true for Vienna, Paris, New York…. They just did it. Without any Schengen Agreement or European right to free movement of persons. Huh? Where does that pop-up from?

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“Bouffon au lauth” (1623-1624) by Frans Halls, source.

Well, music and EU law have both my interests and belong to my profession. When meeting new people, it is not unusual to have a puzzling face in front of me when I say that I am a musician and researcher in EU law. Often the statement that these two disciplines are not related and have a very different approach of work follows quite soon afterwards.

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Source: http://www.athensmusicjunkie.com

There is some truth in that – at the same time not. Music is everywhere, and so is law too. My research is about the fundamental right of free movement of persons and the pattern of work of very mobile EU citizens – such as many musicians – and how this affects the social security position of this mobile worker. Tensions between laws occur in this more irregular way of working, which results often in unclear situations and an administrative hassle for the person concerned.

 In this post, however, I would like to highlight another cross-over between the musical and legal world, but to do that, we need to go back in the time. Take Italy in the 17th century. This was divided among Spanish domination and governance by the pope and many small free cities in the North. The lack of political unity in Northern Italy made that there was no central organised high court of justice, neither a lawgiver who developed national law.

All rules were local or provincial subjected to the power-game of local notables, which made the legislation occasional and changeable. Still, exchange and trade went on and it where the law professors who helped out in case of misunderstandings or disputes. These learned and wise men kept this mediating and powerful position for quite a long time: till the end of the ancient regime in 1789. It was at this time that the first universities in Europe where created in Italy, which attired persons from well-off sections of the population to study Roman law in Italy. This is still noticeable today and the influence of the Roman law applied by the law professors can be traced back in the law systems of many other countries in and outside Europe.

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(Italy around 1650, showing the cities that were the main centres for music)

In the same period, there were flourishing days for the arts and music in Italy. Several rulers, cities and leading families in the North were competing for prestige by the way of supporting music and the arts. This stimulated not only the occurrence of new music genres such as the opera, but also created the first classical music education system and the development of craftsmanship in high quality musical instruments – think about the ateliers of Stradivari or Amati. This made Italy having a dominant influence on the European music scenes lasting till even the mid-eighteenth century. And as everyone knows, Stradivari string instruments are still the most desired instruments of today.

Today, we know quite sophisticated legal systems that provide us the playing rules of our societies. Some rights are the same (think about universal human rights); others may differ more or differ less. A clear example here is the gay-marriage, which is totally legally here in the Netherlands, but still unthinkable in societies like, for example, Poland or Bulgaria. Different choices have been made within these societies. We may think that is caused due to a different approach to matters, to a different culture. Or maybe not?

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Source: www.industryweek.com

In his book Judges, Legislators and Professors Van Caenegem opposes exactly this more traditional view that legal history is shaped by and is a part of cultural history. He proposes an interesting and bold perspective, namely: the form of the legal system with all its duties and rights, regulations and decisions is created by the political development within the various European nations. He shifts the idea that culture is at the core of how our societal structure is shaped.

But, what then about the purest expression form of our culture: the arts and music? Could we then also say that political history can be held responsible for the development of these? When having a closer look at for example the musical developments in the baroque and classical music, we can actually come to a similar conclusion. Observing both the legal and musical developments in Italy, we can say that for a long period of time, the Italian developments where progressive for their time and have been of significant influence in Europe. And indeed, it was the way of political organisation that made these developments flourishing within the domain of the arts and legal organisation. Of course, developments are not black and white. However, reflecting on the maybe bold statement of Van Caenegem and comparing this to the music historical development in the baroque/classical era, it shows us that political organisation had an enormous impact on the development of the legal order and cultural life for a long-time and with a wide geographic reach. A good reminder I would say, since it shows us how important political organization is.

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source

 

At the time of writing of this blog it is a very topical issue. Just observe the strong reoccurrence of nationalism, terrorism and other developments, such as the upcoming Brexit, an American president that is first and foremost interested in itself and not to mention the recruitment of the Turkish minister of Dutch/German/Austrian/…..–Turkish nationals for the upcoming referendum in Turkey…. I have to admit that politics are not my domain as researcher. Yet research, particular in law and culture is built on the values of enlightenment. To defend an open, rational and democratic society is not a choice as a researcher, but a duty in itself.

Post written by Eva van Ooij researcher at Institute for Transnational and Euregional cross border cooperation and mobility / ITEM regarding cross border mobility of artists, new forms of employment and their social security position.

Music with us more next Monday!

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With love for Research,

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(51) Research on MUSIC: an intro.

I remember my dad telling me back in the days that during the Soviet Union times, for the cows to be more productive in giving milk, Mozart would be played in the background, while farmers would collect their milk. Maybe this is not the most romantic way to start this post, but if that is true, at least it gives an idea about the power of (classical) music.

Thank you, wonderful musician! This is Research on MUSIC month and invited Researchers and practitioners from this area will discuss in the upcoming Mondays different perspectives of how music affects our busy, intense, contemporary life and how we can make the best out of it!

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Source: Maastricht Students.

Music in our-days is easy to use at all times… for relaxing our cats, for headaches and migraines, for peaceful eating and breathing.

We can create the ‘sound of music‘ ourselves anywhere we are. I remember when I turned 30 (don’t mention it)), I asked my friends to bring as a present – a performance of whatever they could do, and singing was the most used creative performance we could all enjoy that evening. Learning an instrument might take a while 😀

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Going one step further than singing in the bathroom.

Speaking of that night… with gratitude to my friend Ina, who let me share this video with you, please have a look at this beautiful piece of classical music by Puccini. It is a spontaneous rendition, with the great assistance of her little blue butterfly girl, Nele.

Who knows, maybe it will inspire your next theme house party, you might be surprised on how creative your friends really are! 😉

…. and now… another round of applause go to our Special Guest of next Monday, a Research fellow on EU law and related topics to living and working as musicians and a musician at the same time! drums…

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Eva van Ooij, Musician and Research Fellow at Maastricht University

Music with us more next Monday!

With love for Research,

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(47) Research on HEALTH: first aid (CPR).

This is Research on HEALTH month on Researchista. It is when Researchers from different medical fields bring their best knowledge and expertise in few words to explain their Research findings and to hopefully help you overcome certain health questions or problems you might have. Please say hi to Sebastian! 

Hi there!

I studied Medicine at the Maastricht University (2010-2016) and became a member of Taskforce QRS (CPR instructor) in 2012. My first cardiopulmonary resuscitation was on a ward in a small town in Germany, where I was at the time following an internship. At that moment, I was a CPR instructor for nearly 3 years and I thought I knew all the steps perfectly. But nothing could prepare me for the real thing….. ☺

 

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Sebastian Sanduleanu, PhD student at Maastricht University

So, what to do when someone has a heart attack? First, let’s distinguish some key concepts:

“Cardiac arrest”

A “cardiac arrest”, not to be confused with a “heart attack” is when the heart stops beating (Figure 1). A heart attack may lead to a cardiac arrest.

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Fig. 1: Cardiac arrest vs. heart attack. Source: http://www.healthzone.org

If a cardiac arrest occurs, blood will stop circulating around the body and breathing will likewise cease within several minutes. Without a supply of oxygen, the cells in the body start to die. Especially brain cells are highly sensitive for low blood oxygen concentrations, after about five minutes of no oxygen brain cells will begin dying leading to brain damage and death.

Other key conceptual differences regarding symptoms:

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Source: http://www.positivemed.com

“CPR”

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, commonly known as CPR is one of the key elements of first aid. The purpose of CPR is by chest compression to keep oxygenated blood flowing through the body in order to keep the vital organs alive.

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Fig. 2. The BLS/AED algorithm Source: http://www.slideshare.net/adis23/cpr-prezentacija

It is important to know that CPR itself will not restart someone’s heart, it just keeps them alive until a defibrillator (Figure 3) arrives. This is a device which delivers an electrical shock to the heart in order to restart it. These defibrillators are, aside from hospitals, commonly found in sports parks, shopping malls, schools and near to crowded areas. Access is restricted to authorized users, from ambulance workers, (para-) medics to civilians trained in CPR (with a so called BLS = Basic Life Support certification).

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Fig. 3. The automated external defibrilator (AED)

CPR numbers in the Netherlands

Around 10.000 people in the Netherlands face a cardiac arrest outside the hospital every year. A major influence on the survival rate is the high percentage of bystanders, which had already begun CPR before the arrival of the first ambulance (>75%), the connection of an automatic external de-fibrillator (AED) and a shockable heart rhythm early. These findings have been summarized in the chain of survival (Figure 4).

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Fig. 4. The chain of survival.

The survival in the Netherlands is on average 23%, one of the highest in Europe. If there is a shockable rhythm start, the survival rate can be as high as 44%.

For those living in Maastricht: QRS Taskforce Maastricht, purpose and background
In order to improve the survival chances for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) victims, Taskforce QRS Maastricht (Qualitative Resuscitation by Students), was founded in 2006 by medical students of Maastricht University3. In 2012 a new approach in CPR training, called Maastricht Quantity-orientated Resuscitation Session (M-QRS), was developed that focuses on the number of trained students per training. By comparing the new with the old approach quantitative growth could be assessed. Until now more than 12,937 secondary school students have now been trained by ERC-certified (European Resuscitation Council) CPR instructors with this efficient M-QRS approach. In comparison, a theoretical maximum of 6,469 could have been trained by means of the old approach. Sign up for CPR-training with Taskforce QRS: A civilian rescuer is a CPR trained volunteer that is contacted by 112 emergency rooms per SMS or via a special phone application to directly or after picking up an AED (automatic external defibrillator) go to the location of a victim of a cardiac arrest and to start CPR. Interested? Click on the link! 

(more at: Ghossein, A., Amin, H., Sijmons, J., Olsthoorn, J., Weerts, J., Houben, V. (2014). Taskforce QRS. European Heart Journal, 35(45), 3149-3151).

Heart physiology

The heart pumps oxygen and nutrients around the body through your blood. Waste products, e.g carbon dioxide and urea are removed through your circulation by respectively the lungs (diffusion) and the kidneys (urine filtration). In your lungs, oxygen enters your blood stream and carbon dioxide (a waste product) is removed in a process known as gas exchange (Figure 5).

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Figure 5. Gas exchange in lungs (Pearson, 2013).

All the cells in your body are dependent on oxygen, aside from nutrients to survive. This oxygen is used as energy source in the powerhouses of the cell, the mitochondria in a biochemical activity called metabolism.

 

 Post written by Sebastian Sanduleanu, MAASTRO Clinic, Maastricht University, Maastricht

 

 

With love for Research,

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Academia Food health knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stress struggle

(46) Research on HEALTH: metabolism.

…(drums) and Researchista’s first Special Guest_Professor is Professor Dr. Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov! This is Research on HEALTH month and this month we will talk about metabolism. Let’s recall from school what metabolism is about? Metabolē means change” in Greek and is the set of chemical transformations within the cells of living organisms (that does not only include humans, but also plants and animals). Wikipedia says that this is usually divided into two categories: catabolism – the breaking down of organic matter, and anabolism – the building up of components of cells such as proteins and nucleic acids. Usually, breaking down releases energy and building up consumes energy [Break down food – create new energy = metabolism]. This post is about on side when metabolism does not work.. called Metabolic Syndrome. I hope the post below will inspire to eat fat in a smart way!

Metabolic Syndrome: beyond simple fat accumulation

Everybody knows that consuming a healthy diet and doing physical exercise regularly are essential for keeping our health in optimal condition and our body in good shape. Although there are general guidelines that may help in defining what a healthy diet is, the term ‘healthy’ very much depends on individual needs and opinion. What is healthy can influenced by genetics, gender, age, cultural habits, nutrient availability, and socioeconomic state, amongst others. The notion that continuous malnutrition increases the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and the associated metabolic complications is widely accepted.

Why does eating an unhealthy diet lead to detrimental effects on our organs including the liver, in some but not all individuals? Surprisingly, the effect of unhealthy diet on our body goes beyond the amount of fat.  In fact, it is all about location!

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Professor Dr. Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov, Maastricht University

From an evolutionary perspective, it has become clear that metabolism is a vital process, which is characterized by the efficient use of energy, as well as the ability to store excess energy for periods of food deprivation. In contrast to our ancestors, current industrialized habits are hallmarked by an excess intake of fat and sugar-enriched foods in combination with physical inactivity. This metabolic imbalance turned our former ‘survival’ state into a serious health problem, currently known as obesity, in which abnormal amounts of fat accumulates throughout the body. Nowadays, nearly one-third of the global population is overweight or obese. Lately, it has become apparent that not only adults suffer from obesity, but also children. As more and more individuals are getting obese, the metabolic syndrome is considered a major health threat.

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Adapted from http://www.struggle.pk

Before taking a closer look at the liver, it is first important to understand the concept of the Metabolic Syndrome. The Metabolic Syndrome is an ‘umbrella term’ for a cluster of factors that increases the risk of developing fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

It involves a complex interplay between different organs, including the fat tissue, intestines, pancreas, brains, cardiovascular system and the liver, in which lipid homeostasis is dysregulated and metabolic inflammation is taking the lead. The liver is one of the most essential organs involved in metabolism, as it does not only regulate the storage and degradation of nutrients such as fats, carbohydrates and amino acids, but it is also involved in the detoxification of harmful compounds.

What is the exact link between the liver and the Metabolic Syndrome?

When we eat too much fat, the excess fat is transported to the liver, where it will be taken up and start to accumulate. Thus, the more fat that we eat, the more fat that accumulates inside our liver cells. Accumulation of fat in the liver is common in our society: it is present in approximately 15 percent of the general population and 90 percent of the people are currently obese. This simple accumulation of fat in the liver is still reversible and, therefore, not necessarily considered harmful. This condition, however, starts to become problematic, once the unhealthy lifestyle continue for long period of time. Accumulation of fat in the liver increases the risk of developing liver inflammation. Ultimately, liver inflammatory can lead to severe, non-reversible liver damage, including liver failure and other associated complications such as cardiovascular disease. Therefore liver inflammation is considered a major health threat.

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 Why does continuous intake of fatty meals can cause severe complications to our body?

When our body is in a healthy condition, specific receptors on the plasma membrane of liver ensure that the fat will be taken up and further processed. Before fat can be broken down for direct energy supply or storage, it must first enter the lysosomes. These cellular acidic organelles are small vesicles inside our cells, which contain enzymes that are capable of breaking down the fat. Once the fat has been degraded into smaller lipid particles, it can leave the lysosomes and can be either stored in the cytoplasm of the cell or can return to the blood.

When the levels of fat intake are continuously high, as observed in obese people, the fat circulates longer in the blood and consequently get oxidized. We have shown that unlike non- oxidized fat, when oxidized fat is taken up by the cells, it accumulates inside the lysosomes. The accumulation of the oxidized fat inside the lysosomes is associated with the development of liver inflammation.

What did we conclude? It is not the accumulation of fat, but rather the location by which the fat accumulates, which triggers the inflammatory response in the liver. Therefore, the actual accumulation of oxidized fat in the lysosomes could be the actual trigger for the inflammatory response. These pioneering results have shed new lights on the possible underlying mechanisms which are leading to the Metabolic Syndrome and opened new venues for the treatment and prevention of the associated clinical complications.

by Professor in Hepatic Inflammation and Metabolic Health, Dr. Ronit Shiri-Sverdlov, Maastricht University UMC+ (Maastricht University Medical Centre = Academic Hospital+Maastricht University), Genetics and Cell Biology Department.

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Maastricht UMC+

With love for Research,

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Academia enthusiasm Fashion Fashionista first years of PhD Photoshoot research Researchista

fashionista #3: Maaspuntweg & Stenenwal.

So, we went to see the Maas from the other side. Please meet our guest, miss Laurien Nagels-Coune who is also the first intern at Researchista, you probably heard about her before 😉 This story is not so much about a Research topic, since Laurien is in her first year of PhD. This story is a personal story about the start of a junior Researcher. 

For those who are unfamiliar with Researchista-fashionista project, this aims to bring Researchers to model on the streets of Maastricht to bring some light on both, the Researcher and a street (or two) of this serene medieval city. On top of that, Researchista-fashionista is concerned with some aspects of the fashion industry and wishes to promote eco-healthy clothing. So, in this shoot we wear 100% biological and organic materials produced 100% in Europe and provided by the shop, called ‘EcoLinea’ from Platielstraat 10 (Vrijthof), where honestly,  everything you find in that shop, like.. every-single-wool/cotton/allmaterials-thing is organic (and they still have sales on!).

First, a little something about the location of the shoot. Tadam! This is the center of Maastricht. You see on the left, the central train station and then few central locations. I marked with a red and orange line the streets and place of our 3rd shoot at this idyllic river bench. Taking pictures with Mr. Mullenberg Peter and his assistant is always a lot of joy, the atmosphere is relaxed and the jokes are funny. This helps everyone to get in the mood to shoot the story.

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It was December, it was winter and it was cold on Maaspuntweg (from ‘Maas’-the river, ‘punt’ – the point, ‘weg’ – the way, now you also know some Dutch!). We went directly to the back of the Bonnenfanten Museum, in the yard of the cafeteria ‘Ipanema’, where we plan to shelter ourselves for tea. Wrong day, the place was closed 😀 I leave it to yourselves to admire how Laurien is being impervious to cold! She was on the table for almost an hour pretending that winter never happened and here is her story…

PhD life in Maastricht: a first impression.

Dear readers, join me at this delightful location. During my master, I would often bike via this path after crossing the Sint Servaas bridge. Biking to the Randwyck campus was always quite a journey because I lived on Maastricht’s Belgian side, almost close enough to the border to receive the Belgian network on my phone.

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Don’t get me wrong though, I did not mind the bike ride at all. My favorite part was this path. I am fond of watching the water from the Maas. When thinking about it, it might be all the fun times at the Belgian seaside that installed this love of water in me. Nevertheless, three years ago I started riding my bike via this path all the way to Randwyck. I was over the moon with getting accepted in one of the neuroscience programs at the faculty of psychology and neuroscience.

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The courses were immensely interesting and intense, resulting in a flow like state most of the time. Admittedly, there were also some times that it got too intense for me. I had to get used to problem-based learning (PBL) for starters. Coming from the University of Leuven, PBL was quite the opposite of what I was used to. A wonderful advantage was that I had to keep up with the material. The perfectionistic procrastinator in me had to get on with it. A downside – that was especially hard to adjust to – was the compulsory attendance. I used to travel a lot during my studies in Leuven, as I was in a long-distance relationship. During those trips, I studied the manuals and the course materials. Sometimes I would ask friends to record an important lecture. This more introverted type of learning also worked for me.

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Nevertheless, PBL made me keep up with the work, and perhaps that was just what I needed to push me into a flow state. When left on my own, I often want to fully understand all the material that is given to me. That might sound like a positive trait, but in all fairness, dissecting an entire methods section meticulously is not very efficient in every course. Maastricht’s educational system forced me to step back regularly and look at the big picture…… and then step back in and read another article.

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After this Master my cravings for neuroscience grew stronger and I decided to apply for a PhD grant together with my mentor. At the time of the grant application I was doing an internship in California, so I had to fly back to defend my project. I felt like a million dollars when getting on that plane. The mere thought that someone else thought I was important enough to fly me back to Europe was thrilling. Even more thrilling was actually getting this grant of course.

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What makes neuroscience such a good match for me is its interdisciplinary nature. Neuroscience is the biology of psychology, the biology behind our mind… In cognitive neuroscience we often measure the brain activity during specific tasks or mental activities. These psychological experiments are elegantly designed and intensely piloted to answer very complex – and sometimes even philosophical – questions that touch the core of our human mind. As a neuroscientist, you can delve into psychology, biology, mathematics and computer science all at the same time.

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The first year of my PhD has passed now.  I am sure that many other PhD students would agree with this statement: time flies by so fast. The past year has been a small success for me as I got to experience the thrill of data collection in living human beings and I presented a poster at my first conference. I often ruminate about what I could have done better or about slow progress, but I force myself to ban those thoughts and be content. I learned a lot and developed quite some skills, and that is all that really matters in the end. In addition, I am trying this mantra ‘I did my best and that is good enough’.

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One personal tendency that helped me in the past year is systematic organization. My need for agenda’s, planning and to do lists is never satisfied. Notebooks and cute folders clutter my desk. I note everything down and I date every note. Paper beats not only rock but also technology. A fountain pen and a blank page do the trick infinitely better than an empty word document in my world. When it comes to creative experimental design or writing that is, of course. I could not miss my computer when it comes to data analysis.

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But hej, I am for sure not the archetype boring office mouse. Next to my OCD-like organization attempts, I also enjoy socializing with my colleagues. I feel blessed to have a few of my former classmates as colleagues because it made the transition from student to PhD-er so much easier.

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I have always been a talkative person over a good coffee. Time spent enjoying lunch or coffee with my colleagues is an energy boost for me. Also it is time spent exchanging ideas, supporting each other and having a good laugh.

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In conclusion, the past few years here in Maastricht have been wonderful, a challenging but also quite a rewarding adventure. I am looking forward to the next few years of my PhD …..

Laurien

When we went to EcoLinea to choose the clothes for the shoot, we got this combination…. it felt like we were mirroring each other, myself as a graduated PhD and Laurien as a first year PhD who is really in her very first months of a hopefully not very long journey. I felt very inspired and wrote these verses that do not rhyme 🙂 but who cares, I just wanted to pass on a message. It is for you, Laurien! and all other starters in the PhD/Research world.

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Photo credit: Photostique, Peter Mullenberg

Models: Laurien and Researchista

Clothing: Ecolinea, Maastricht.

With love for Research,

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“Bonefun!

So, here we are sister,
Passing on the (PhD) flag with care,
In the little heaven of Maastrich.

Not much rhymes with what you are about to face.
And I do not mean to dramatize,
Neither to remind you of the sleepless nights,
But no matter how smart and strong you are,
Get ready to face it.
Hard work, discipline, dissapointment and again.

It might brake you down,
But you have passion and compassion to glue yourself back.
It might cover you in that extra layer of glorious pride,
But you have kindness to remind yourself of who you are.

It might take you down to unvisited inside depressive places,
It might take you up to ego heavens,
It might be the biggest dissapointment,
It might be the best thing you have done in your life,
It might be your worse decision.
One thing is certain, in time all struggles remain aloof,
The skills you will acquired, your hard work and the Dr. in front of your surname,
will undust your memory from time to time,
and will remain with you for(ever?) a long time.

It will stay part of you, Research & you.
Even if you change the colour of your hair,
The surname in your passport.

And one day,
When you are done,
The world is yours.
Till you become unemployed.

Ah, Maastricht, you keep on surprising us all,
You little bubble of heaven,
Placed at the river bench,
Embracing us at the Bonnenfanten wander place.

White verses,
Researchista’s muse”