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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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(44) Research on BRAIN (extended): Misophonia

The quest into the unknown land of ‘misophonia’ continues. It is not included in any diagnostic manuals, it is not widely acknowledged by the medical community. Yet people who suffer from misophonia exist and here is what they are confronted with, in the words of Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout, the founder of International Misophonia Research Network, a New York State Certified School Psychologist, a Connecticut Professional Licensed Counselor, with a Doctorate in School/Clinical-Child Psychology, based here in the Connecticut, the United States of America.

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Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout, International Misophonia Research Network.

Differentiating Disorders: Misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity

As all researchers know, almost comically, well, uncovering new scientific knowledge is no easy task. Whether you are engaged in investigating a well-trod topic, or, like me, you are forging relatively new territory, there are often not simple solutions to the complex problems we encounter. Perhaps you have recently read about the disorder I study and advocate for, misophonia, on this blog. Misophonia is a neurologically based disorder in which auditory, and sometimes visual, stimuli are misinterpreted within the central nervous system, leading sufferers to have unpleasant reactions to sounds others would consider barely noticeable.

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Source: internet.

When misophonia sufferers are exposed to particular “trigger sounds,” the fight/flight response is set off within the body. For these individuals, hearing a noxious noise can feel akin to being confronted with a wild animal, as their hearts race and muscles tense.

Because misophonia (does not appear in diagnostic manuals, such as DSM-5 or ICD-10) is only recently gaining wider recognition in the public and scientific communities, studying this disorder presents a unique set of challenges. 

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Though there is a scant amount of research on misophonia at this point, fortunately, there is a large body of research that has been developed over the past 15 years on a similar disorder, Sensory Over-Responsivity (a subtype of Sensory Processing Disorder). Individuals suffering from Sensory Over-Responsivity react to all types of sensory information as thought it were dangerous, and their fight/flight systems can be activated by seemingly inoffensive sights, smells, tastes, touches, or sounds. In both, misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity, certain sounds can leave sufferers feeling angry, fearful, disgusted, and “out of control.”

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Source: Internet.

Though it may seem natural that the research on Sensory Over-Responsivity be used to inform our understanding of misophonia, this has, largely, not taken place. We may ask ourselves, why are these two highly similar disorders rarely compared in misophonia academic articles, or articles in the popular press? My answer to this question is an unfortunate one: for the most part, researchers are not used to working within a cross-disciplinary model.

While psychology researchers, audiology researchers, and occupational therapy researchers may be competent and successful within their own fields, they are often not accustomed to reaching beyond them to integrate other types of research into their own work. There is a long pragmatic and political history behind the lack of cross-disciplinary research work that is not necessarily the fault of academic researchers or clinicians. However, in the “age of information” that we are living in, sharing valuable knowledge between researchers from different disciplines should now be as quick and easy as doing a google search, and as common. As it is, this lack of information sharing trickles down to the public, and often leads Misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity sufferers to find inaccurate information about their own conditions.

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Unfortunately, another important problem facing both misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity is that neither disorder has been accepted into the diagnostic manuals (DSM-5 or the ICD-10). It is difficult to understand the logic behind this fact, as studies have estimated that up to 20% of children are affected by sensory-based disorders. Likewise, tens of thousands of people have gathered on social media platforms to form support groups for misophonia, helping one another fill the gaps left by a large portion of the mental health community. There is a long political history involving how a disorder gains entry into diagnostic manuals, and though the National Institute of Health has taken steps recently to try to change this process, this change comes long after the damage has been done. Therefore, what we are left with is two disorders that “don’t exist,” that are not reimbursable by insurance, and for which research funding is extraordinarily difficult to come by.

Sensory Over- Responsivity and Misophonia share more than symptoms. They share neglect from the medical and psychiatric communities, which has resulted in the dissemination of more than enough inaccurate and confusing information to do damage to sufferers lives. My hope is that going forward, receptive practitioners and researchers from all facets of the healthcare community can work cooperatively to study and treat these disorders, discovering important knowledge and improving sufferers’ quality of life.

This post is written by Dr. Jennifer Jo Brout  (who is also the mother of adult triplets, and is a Misophonia sufferer herself) and Miss Madeline Appelbaum, a recent alumna of Reed College (Oregon, USA), with a particular interest in educational psychology. Madeline wrote an undergraduate thesis on the effects of autonomous and controlled motivation to learn on college students.

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Madeline Appelbaum, Intern at International Misophonia Research Network

International Misophonia Research Network (Amsterdam)

With love for Research,

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(38) Research on Food: make-your-own-little-Research.

Every Monday, during a month on Researchista’s Blog you will find a new subject in which we invite one or more Researchers to talk about it. They are called “Special Guests” (because they are special and because they are guests). At the end of every subject (4th week of each month), Researchista is inviting anyone willing to explore how that topic affects their daily life. This section is called “Make-your-own-little-Research” and is encouraging everyone to make their Research (it’s called little, because is our own private investigation 😉 ), by giving an example of how to use different Research concepts and methods to investigate that subject. As a results we hope to help changing our own behaviour about a topic in selected area. This is Research on Food (industry) month on Researchista, so our little Research is going to be on this subject.

Say hello to Irina B. aka Researchista and Diana Z. aka Social activist, i-care-about-the-environment-lets-do-it-together friend! This is our little Research. What would yours be like? m?

Little Research: “How to Read Food Labels”.

How to know which ingredients are not good for your health? Research is your best friend. Let’s start by making it clear: we love food. So much. You can not imagine.

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Irina B. aka Researchista

At the same time, we wonder what is healthy to eat and what is not? When we go shopping for food, are we actually buying the healthy food? This is our ‘Research question’ (a r.q. is usually stands for the aim/goal/purpose/objective of a scientific study): to what extent the food we buy is healthy? In other words, how to understand what it says on the package of content we buy.

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Diana Z. aka Busy Avocado

And here we start our journey, with the help of food blogger to become and corporate activist in this area, Diana and Irina ‘willing-to-learn how to read the labels’. Let’s figure this out.

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in Park & Shop, Dubai (United Arab Emirates)

First, determine what package of food you consume often and wish to know if it contains any chemicals or unhealthy products.

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in HEMA, Maastricht (Netherlands)

Food labeling is required by law and should be clear, accurate and easy to understand and protect the consumer. It should help the consumers to know what they are buying. It is regulated by different bodies in different countries. Information required to be displayed: ingredients, weight, name of food, storage instructions, use-by-date, clear preparation and cooking instructions, name and address of manufacturer, place of origin, batch number, any genetically modified ingredients, beverages which contain >1.2% alcohol. Nutritional information is only required if there is a nutritional claim made.

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Fats and sugars are contents that need extra research. If most of the fat content comes from healthy unsaturated fat, then it is a green light. If the fat is mainly saturated and/or the product has any trans-fat, it is definitely a no. Also watch out for Vegetable Oil.

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Source: internet

Vegetable oils are manufactured in a factory, usually from genetically modified crops that have been heavily treated with pesticides. Sugar, another “watch out!”,  has many names, 56 to be precise. If we notice these ingredients, besides sugar and if they come as first or second ingredient, better place this product back on the shelf.

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Source: thetruthaboutcancer.com

Once we are clear on the nutrition facts, we can continue with the individual ingredients research. Unfortunately, majority of manufacturers use various sickening ingredients that we cannot even pronounce their names. I have a general rule regarding this, if I cannot read and understand it, I don’t buy it. Watch out for the sickening ingredients: growth hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, artificial sweeteners, BPA, artificial flavors and sweeteners, dyes and conditioners, carrageenan and others.

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Source: simpleobtainablesolutions.com

In conclusion, Researching food products’ labels can be an overwhelming task and maybe sometimes we can end up thinking there is nothing safe left to eat, but eventually the label understanding skills become habits and the process of identifying the good food is becoming as easy as ABC.

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Source: Pinterest, Mariasea

 

Happy Shopping!

Literature review with the courtesy of Busy Avocado and

With love for Research,

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Note from Diana:

“As people are becoming more health conscious, the demands for ethical food is on the rise. By ethical we mean not only sustainable, but also ethically grown, processed, packaged and marketed. Unfortunately, we witness that many large corporations are taking ethics for granted and only care about their profit, thus maximizing production, while neglecting the nutritional value of food. Many products already enter the food chain filled with chemicals and substances that can damage our health. Later on they are processed with additives, dyes, preservatives and thickeners, and eventually packaged in materials that are also hazardous for health. But the worst part is that companies spend thousands to promote these products, create beautiful packages, advertisements and incentives. Moreover, many of them go to the extreme to portray these products as healthy and suitable for children. Stopping these companies from producing and marketing products that contain harmful ingredients is not easy. In many countries corporations have a lot of power in the food industry. But there is another way to combat them. Learn to read and understand labels and avoid products that are clearly damaging your health.

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Academia Business Environment Food knowledge research Researcher Special Guest

(37) Aesthetics, Food and Innovation

Dear Researchista friends, please welcome our first Special Guest from abroad (outside NL), Dr. Beatrice D’Ippolito! 

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This month Researchista has decided to focus on the food industry. As an evolutionary economist at root, when I think of an industry and the products or services offered, I start thinking of what drives change and innovation in the specific context. Last week’s contribution to ‘Research on Food (industry) month on Researchista’ started off with the following: “It is the experience which brings about development and innovation”. Today I would like to delve further into the concept of innovation in food retail, hardly considered as innovating, yet bearing a significant potential for growth and change.

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Source: “Learning about food design”, d’Ippolito (2015)

Ongoing debates within the academic and policy-making communities centre argue that less technology-intensive industries rely on services to build their innovation capacity. Which foundations does this belief build on?

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Recently I have been involved in a project which sought to explore how aesthetics, which often finds expression in design, can shape the innovation activities undertaken by food retailers. ‘Why aesthetics?’, you may wonder? And even, ‘How does it relate to food retail?

Aesthetics was a term coined by Baumgarten in Aesthetica (1750-58) to describe a philosophical discipline that examines the “lower” sensual aspects of human experience as opposed to the “higher” realm of logics. Research on the topic has evolved in many directions ever since and, for the sake of simplicity, I hereby refer to aesthetics as concerned with “the nature and appreciation of art, beauty, and good taste” (Oxford English Dictionary). Falling under the realm of axiology, that is, the study of values and value judgments, aesthetics is strongly connected with individual preferences. You may start connecting the dots here.

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Source: internet.

Retail industries are increasingly being subject to consumers demanding for more innovation. Interestingly, although a retailer’s success relies on the ability to predict market trends, retailers are usually the adopters of innovations produced by other manufacturing companies. Retail firms are rarely thought of as innovation pioneers, yet some of them seem to adopt existing technologies to either improve their selling practices or enhance the quality of their retail processes. In addition, most innovations offered by retailers, though incremental, can generate meaningful impact on firms’ performance if sustained in the long run.

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Source: “Emerging trends in food retail”, http://www.supermarketnews.com (Oct’16)

Further, I would like to discuss more about these aspects by illustrating how food retailers can innovate their offering by leveraging on the design element of their products and services. To do so, I draw on the case of Eataly (www.eataly.net), a food retailer that entered the Italian food market in 2007 with a first establishment in Turin, and additional ones later on, both in Italy and abroad.

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Source: internet.

The founder of Eataly believed in a world in which consumers are aware of healthier eating habits and the importance of consuming organic and seasonal products. These values have been inspired by Slow Food, a global organisation founded in Italy in 1989 to counteract fast food and a fast life on the one hand, and the disappearance of local food traditions and ethical modes of food production and consumption on the other. In seeking to protect this cultural heritage, Slow Food has effectively become a ‘clearing house’ for knowledge of local foods, initially in Italy, then globally.

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Source: “One of Eataly’s mottos” from field visit to Eataly Store in Milan (Teatro Smeraldo, 2015), D’Ippolito & Timpano (2016). Translation: “Life is too short to eat and drink bad”

How does aesthetics manifest itself in the offering and activities of Eataly? The company originates from a series of stimuli rooted in both the territory in which the first store was set up, Turin, and the professional background of the founder, Oscar Farinetti. Eataly became the place where consumers could go and enjoy their food with family and friends (a restaurant), buy locally produced ingredients (a supermarket), and learn how to cook traditional recipes (a locus of learning).

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Oscar Farinetii, Founder of Eataly. Source: here

Still, where is aesthetics? Eataly is an excellent case to explore how design as embedding and expressing aesthetics can foster innovation in service industries like food retailing. This is the case for various reasons. First, Eataly sought to grow and build reputation by locating their branches in sites that have a meaning for the local community. As Farinetti puts it, “Each ‘Eataly in the world’ focuses on one value: harmony for Turin, audacity for Genoa, doubt for New York. For Rome, we have chosen beauty”. For instance, the branch in Turin is located within the old premises of Carpano, an Italian winery and distillery that first established in Turin in 1786 and later moved to Milan. The store also benefits from the flourishing surroundings, that is, one of the country’s largest areas for food production and relevant events such as Terra Madre and The Salone del Gusto. The logic behind this approach is that of attracting the attention of those consumers who are familiar and emotionally attached to the site they live in and increase their awareness about its cultural heritage. Second, whilst the architecture of the various retail stores tries to recall the big factories (e.g., visible pipes on the ceiling, metallic furniture), Eataly still wishes to establish a reputation for the store as being central to the city rather than peripheral like many shopping malls.

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Source: Eataly Story in Rome (taken during one of my field visits, April, 2014)

Third, elements of aesthetics have been built into different aspects of the firm’s organisation. A highly visible dimension regards the layout and logistics of the store. The first store, Eataly Turin, counts more than 6,000 m2 dedicated to the supermarket area, the restaurant, and exhibition (e.g., fair trade coffee) of their products. The store logistic has been set out with the aim of making the consumer ‘travel’ through theme-specific corridors almost by forgetting that the store is of a much bigger size. Product and restaurant points are arranged to induce purchase and offer a unique experience – “…products are shelved so closely that you cannot just avoid them, you feel the impulse of taking one back home with you” (field notes from the researcher’s visits to Eataly Rome). A series of mono-theme restaurants are dedicated to the product types such as ready-made bread or fresh meat, and besides each of them, a learning corner has been set up to deliver cooking training programs to candidate chefs, for example about meat cutting or bread making techniques.

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Translation: “If I don’t go to Eataly, I die! I have fallen in love from the first moment I saw it. This is why I wanted to bring it in my city: New York. It is liked like crazy, even by my dog”, Joe Bastianichi. Source: internet

The architect’s brief for Eataly’s first store has been framed and exhibited in the Rome store (see figure below): here one can really see Eataly’s intent to recall consumer attention to the company’s roots and how these have informed their organisational values.Still, where is aesthetics?

Eataly is an excellent case to explore how design as embedding and expressing aesthetics can foster innovation in service industries like food retailing. This is the case for various reasons. First, Eataly sought to grow and build reputation by locating their branches in sites that have a meaning for the local community. As Farinetti puts it, “Each ‘Eataly in the world’ focuses on one value: harmony for Turin, audacity for Genoa, doubt for New York. For Rome, we have chosen beauty”. For instance, the branch in Turin is located within the old premises of Carpano, an Italian winery and distillery that first established in Turin in 1786 and later moved to Milan. The store also benefits from the flourishing surroundings, that is, one of the country’s largest areas for food production and relevant events such as Terra Madre and The Salone del Gusto. The logic behind this approach is that of attracting the attention of those consumers who are familiar and emotionally attached to the site they live in and increase their awareness about its cultural heritage. Second, whilst the architecture of the various retail stores tries to recall the big factories (e.g., visible pipes on the ceiling, metallic furniture), Eataly still wishes to establish a reputation for the store as being central to the city rather than peripheral like many shopping malls.

Last but not least, aesthetics is also embedded with how products are “placed on the shelves and introduced to consumers” (interview with the Communications Director). Most products, though manufactured by small farmers, are packaged in light-coloured packaging, in white more often than not, to introduce fresh, healthy, and tasty products. Shelves are painted in white; advertising wallpapers or flyers have a white background; and shopping assistants’ aprons are white to recreate a similarly freshening atmosphere. As the Communications Director stated, “it is important to present the product without overwhelming it”.

Eataly represents an example of how, through the entrepreneurial initiatives driven by passion, tradition, and ethical behaviour (e.g., promotion of locally sourced products, shorter product life cycles, and new restaurant models), a small firm can be innovative and contribute to driving change. The case points indeed to the importance of local communities, local brands, and intensified relationships with customers’ suppliers that will not only generate a positive impact for the company, but also the local economy.

Post written by Dr. Beatrice D’IppolitoLecturer in Strategic Management, University of York, UK

Note to the post:

The current piece draws from a research collaboration between Dr D’Ippolito and Prof. Timpano (Universitàa Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Piacenza, Italy). Results from this project can be further consulted at the following sources:

With love for Research,

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Business Environment Food future health knowledge research Special Guest

(36) Research on food (industry): the future.

 Welcome on Research on food industry month on Researchista! Our Special Guest Michelle Jongen (former student of HAS University in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, study Environmental Science) discovered ‘vertical farming’ and wondered how she could implement a vertical farming system in combination with a knowledge center. She wants to create awareness, and activate and inspire people about the environment with her initiative at Botanica Innovare and the story goes like this…

….”The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein. A beautiful phrase with which I would like to start this article. Indeed, it is the experience which brings about development and innovation. Today, I will discuss the developments and innovations in the field of future food.

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First, we look at the responsible cultivation of vegetables. It has been known for a long time that change is necessary. Before change is possible, we need an inspirer. Concerning crops, the designated person is Dickson Despommier. He is a pioneer in the field of urban farming. He is the one who tells people about his vision where crops are grown vertically in apartment buildings. This view is also known as vertical farming. It is a technique that is developed at this moment both with and without the LED lights. This system is used and examined all over the world.

Some advantages of the vertical farming system are:

  • No crop failure due to weather conditions or pests and diseases;
  • Year-round picks which achieves 30% more yield;
  • Sustainable use of space through the use of vacant buildings;
  • Constant quality of the crops;
  • Food miles are reduced.

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What you see is that countries where the demand for healthy and safe food is high already apply this technique. A good example is Japan. After the nuclear disaster and tsunami, growing food is a tremendous problem. A new cultivation method had to be developed to ensure the health of the population. Nowadays, the consumers of Japan are supporting both vertical and urban farming as this is a secure way to grow crops.

Another development is closer to us than we think. Especially for the people who live in Maastricht. Maybe you already know what I’m talking about. After watching the development of crops, it is now time to look at the future of meat. Meat is increasingly discredited because of the large amount of carbon dioxide and methane which is emitted into the environment. It is our own Professor Mark Post of the University of Maastricht who researches cultured meat.

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Last week, he organized the second International Conference on Cultured Meat from 9 to 11 October. During these days, the acceptance among consumers was important. Several speakers gave their views on the acceptance of cultured meat. In conclusion, we can say that questions are not asked in the right matter and the information on the Internet is often one-sided. We shouldn’t view this alternative as cultured meat but as clean meat. This will give a more positive name to cultured meat.

If we take a step further, we examine situations such as the ones in the film The Martian. In the film, Matt Damon is launching his own urban farming on Mars because he has been left behind. In his alternative greenhouse, he mainly grows potatoes. This made a big fuss because how realistic is this scenario? It is a question that lead to many different opinions.

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As you can see, many innovative developments arise in the food industry. For example, the future crop cultivated at large fields are moving to closed rooms and cows will eventually be replaced by cultured meat. Both techniques have a major positive impact on people and the environment. People receive food that is produced in a responsible way which greatly reduces carbon dioxide and methane emissions. Consumers need to search for the correct information about these themes. Of course, that is not an easy task because of the influence of the media and companies.

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That is why Botanica Innovare is offering education and creating awareness on the themes of sustainability, environment and health. Need more information or a workshop, please contact us.

Post written by Michelle Jongen, founder at Botanica Innovare.

 

With love for Research,

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(35) The transition of a civilisation.

…Food… the substance to keep us alive, the reason for one of the most amazing things we can devour and enjoy, the reason to meet with friends, the thing that we sometimes abuse having in our bellies or forget to consume on time for a healthier living. So many topics relates to it: food waste, food management, food production, toxic food vs. healthy food, food eating, food and public health (is what children at school eat healthy enough?), poverty and food, wealth and food, labour costs and rights when working in this industry, auditing and inspection of food (so many… exquisite food, shrimp production and labour costs of people producing food, McDonalds). Let’s just call it in one word: “Food industry”. 

During her bachelor Environmental Science, Michelle discovered ‘vertical farming’. She wondered how she could implement a vertical farming system in combination with a knowledge center. Subsequently, she wants to create awareness, and activate and inspire people about the environment. Eventually, after six months of doing research, she was convinced to launch Botanica Innovare.

The transition of a civilisation. Research on food (industry), an introduction.

“Life is good! You can move easily from A to B, buy the most exotic products in the supermarket and you always have access to clean water and electricity. What do we want more? Well, it would be nice if we can continue this life and pass it on to future generations. That is possible, however, this way of life begins to take its toll on the earth. In fact, we are plundering our beloved planet. This is something that each of us is responsible of. It is not completely strange because it is the way we are shaped by society. It is mainly about consumption rather than the familiar consuming less. We know this damn well as a consumer and yet we still go for the bargains. Is it denial, a habit or laziness?

The end is nowhere near and it is time for a transition! A transition in which we turn from an unconscious unhealthy society to an unconscious healthy society. A society in which we take responsibility for our actions. A society where we can be proud of and which makes it possible to pass our earth to future generations. You might be wondering where you should start. That is up to you because you are the one who has the potential to initiate changes with small actions. For example, stop buying plastic bags, look at the origin of your food or take your bike for a spin instead of your car. Furthermore, sustainable development needs to be encouraged. Fortunately, people understand the necessity of change. Last year, in September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If these Goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. Our governments have a plan to save our planet…it’s our job to make sure they stick to it.

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That brings us to the second Global Goal: Zero Hunger. This Goal states that we must end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture. The beauty is that we can make this happen! Companies and research institutes are considering this issue for years. New cultivation techniques are becoming increasingly realistic. All over the world, different vertical farming systems are designed and tested. Also the hydroculture (growth on water) and hydroponic systems are increasing. If we look at the alternatives to meat, we see the frequent use of insect and the development of cultured meat.

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Source: here

For the time being, we in the Netherlands can (only) make use of vegetables that have been grown on water. Further investment and development is necessary for other food production systems. And that while the vertical system is already used in other parts of the world. Think of Japan where they can’t grow safe food in the open ground after the nuclear disaster. Here, the need for alternative systems is much larger. Therefore, these sustainable developments should be more encouraged in Europe. Luckily, this is already happening.

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human activity by night and the influence we have on the environment

It is as Socrates once said: “it is often better to ask good questions than to give good answers. With questions, you move others to examine their own experiences and ideas. That triggers learning processes that may be more effective than knowledge.” Dare to ask questions about new food production systems and inform yourself. Dare to be open minded because this is our future. These movements should not be seen as an adversary but it should lead to solidarity. Next week, I am going to talk about LED farming, cultured meat and more. I hope this article inspired you and made you realize that you are the one that can change our civilization.

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A transition is a structural change that is the result of interacting and mutually reinforcing developments in areas such as economy, culture, technology, institutions and nature and the environment.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present generation without jeopardizing the future generations.

By Michelle Jongen, founder at Botanica Innovare.

 

With love for Research,

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Academia enthusiasm Environment Fashion future health knowledge research Researcher Special Guest stereotype

(27) Fashion&Research, part 3: wake up your motivation for change!

You can listen to the post here: 

“So, ok, I buy a new piece of cloth (a t-shirt, trousers or a dress) from H&M or Zara for example, because it looks good and has a nice price, BUT I know that if the price is low, it probably comes from less developed countries. The label confirms where my cloth is coming from (“Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in Romania” or the famous “Made in China”). I already know from social media how hard people work there and how bad they could be treated in such environments. Not all of them, but many of them are very badly paid and work in poor conditions, some people even die while making clothes. I also know that big companies have a lot of money to lobby for very small prices to sell more clothes around the world. Moreover, I maybe know that making a new pair of jeans for example requires a lot of water and to be done at a cheap price, the wasted water goes into rivers and pollutes a lot the environment. Oh, wait! Some clothes are not even good for our skin… But… what am I supposed to do? I feel bad for those people working for 1$ a day to feed a 5 children family somewhere in Asia, but I also get my clothes for a good price… I need to go to work looking decent and good, I want to impress my boyfriend or girlfriend. What am I supposed to do to not harm anyone, myself and the planet? Where am I supposed to buy my clothes?” I hope you had this chain-of-thoughts at least once.

Light,

pose,

shoot.

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Researchista

I find that this picture captures very well the intention of a model when posing to advertise clothes or accessories (and by no means I want to insult any fashionista with this bad quality photo!:))).

This is the month of Research in Fashion on Researchista and this topic has been chosen both, because Researchista is inspired from the word fashionista and most importantly, I was impressed by the master thesis of Hasmik Matevosyan (Utrecht Art University, HKU), based on which she had recently published a book on this topic. So, I decided to spread a piece of Research knowledge to inspire you to do something with your master or PhD theses and to actually discuss about your own ‘buying clothes behaviour’ and what is happening in the fashion industry that so many people get hurt and underpaid.

By the way, another fantastic example of a thesis (not even master level, but bachelor!) is by Maikel Bereens (Maastricht University) the idea of which grew later in a company called Xilloc, that made the world’s first 3D printed titanium skull implant:”What started as a thesis project, emerged to the largest 3D printing company in The Netherlands. Xilloc prints implants, satellite parts and soon bone like material“(in de Volkskrant).

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(Right) Maikel Beerens, http://www.xilloc.com

(Left) Book “Paradigm in Fashion”, author Hasmik Matevosyan.

No worries, if you have not written a thesis, enjoy this reading or simply support those who want to make a difference!

I am exploring what are the current challenges in clothing industry and what alternatives are identified in Research. Of course, there are many Researchers out there who examine this topic, but I only have access to one, so please keep that in mind…(always look for more opinions). Welcome Researchista’s Special Guest of the month: Ms. Hasmik Matevosyan. Here she is:

What is Hasmik is trying to do is to help fashion brands to get to know their target audience to offer them clothes that will be needed and desired. I also help fashion brands produce in an ethical and environmentally way by connected people with each other (ethical factories with brands for example). Last but not least, I help fashion brands make more profit by changing their business model: from the discounts and overproduction model to a model that makes it possible to buy new clothes for the full price, lend high quality clothes for a small sum and to buy the well designed and manufactured clothes with discount when it is offered second hand by the brand.

And if you think, new alternatives are not advantageous for fast fashion brands, our Guest is proving us wrong: This new business model makes it possible to make much more profit which enables brands to invest financial resources into paying fair wages, choosing for clean production processes and choosing for quality production.

I hope this information was useful to you as a consumer or at least gave you hope that at least someone has the same concerns for other people and the environment as much as you do. The model Hasmik suggests is for companies doing fashion, but what you can do for the time being is reflect on your own fashion behaviour, I invite you to join my initiative by filling in this questionnaire. Next week, I will share with you what came out as a result of my reflections on my behaviour towards clothes.

With love for Research,

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*Sneak preview for next Monday*

So, here I was, in Bordeaux talking to my friends about Researchista going fashionista. To be clear from the start: we love fashion.

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to be continued here

 

 

 

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(25) Fashion & Research, part 2: the Industry.

:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIW_Ah0wg-w

“Some day, when I’m awfully low and the world is cold. I will feel a glow, just thinking of you, and the way you look tonight….”, Frank Sinatra.

Going that extra mile for that beautiful dress, that good quality shirt or those cool pair of jeans is not unfamiliar to probably most of us. “Dress to impress”… This is the Research in Fashion month on Researchista and I want to invite you to a journey of self-discovery and reflection on how we ended up feeding a badly functioning mechanism of clothing machine and how can we change this machinery with our very own hands. Let us have an honest talk about how in our very particular, at first sight, impossible way can change the way some things work fashion industry. Our mentor in this area Hasmik Matevosyan, will think along from an documented point of view and present her arguments. She has done a lot of Research on this topic. 

Ok, I have to confess… First time when I went together with my sister to “Primark”, we went wild. We were in Dublin, it was summer, I was in my second year of PhD and things were going brightly. We bought all sorts of summer clothes, especially we were getting ready to go to The Galway Race.

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Little we knew what was Primark back then, we are from Moldova, our big clothing chains are underdeveloped (now I think is maybe for the best). We do not have Primark, H&M or Mango, unless you go to Bucharest or Odessa. We buy locally produced clothes or those imported clothes from Turkey or outlets of big stores.

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The times passed by and I watched randomly all sort of movies about fashion industry on internet, but it never really made me aware of my own behaviour towards clothes. I really pity the people that died in Bangladesh and that work so very hard to make these clothes for cheaper price, tagged “Made in Bangladesh”, “Made in Romania”, “Made in China”, but the reality is that…

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Photo: A.M. Ahad.

… although much less, I still go to these chain shops… Last time I went to Primark was last year, when I redecorated my place and was looking for a blanket for my colour in a special colour and it was really a coincidence that I ended up Primark in Liege, recalling my Dublin experience. This time, I was an informed customer… and I still bought it. I still made that purchase because it was exactly what I was looking for, at a price that was incomparable on the market (very cheap).

low price – new things = high temptation to buy

So, what to do? I don’t want to ruin people’s life and the planet by buying a new dress that I love.

What is the alternative? In which shops is safe to buy and which ones do not respect human rights at work? Is it all clothing bad to buy? What to do…

I know I am not in this alone.

So, I wonder what does Hasmik thinks about it. She knows a lot about fashion industry, she wrote her master’s thesis about it. She must know what can we do as customers to fight for fair treatment of all people at work and to avoid pollution.

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Hasmik Matevosyan, fashion industry expert

Hasmik: The fashion industry today is the second biggest environmentally polluting industry in the world. Millions of production workers are forced to work in inhumane conditions and barely make enough money for a living. Clothes in the shops are of a lower quality then they used to be, but also much cheaper. Clothes get worn off faster, the prices are getting lower and new items keep arriving to the shops in a rapid speed. The consumption speed goes up with it, just as the amount of clothes thrown away every year. On the positive side many fashion designers and brands are researching and applying sustainability and innovation in their practices. There are even several initiatives applying business models where clothes can be leased or borrowed and some fashion brands co-design with their customers.

“During the first year of my fashion education I found out about the downside of the fashion industry and decided that I did not want to contribute to so much negativity, but rather would start searching for a solution. I set as a goal that I want to achieve a fashion industry where clothes are designed to meet your desires and needs and give you a sense of confidence and comfort, where the production of clothes improves lives, where clothes are affordable to everyone and where fashion brands make profit that helps them grow and improve lives and the environment through the work that they do”. 

Here, Hasmik is sharing her solution at TEDxMaastricht, but since many of us were not there, next week we will discuss this idea in details. It is one of the concrete, practical, mediatized solutions I heard as an alternative to how things work today.

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TEDxMaastricht

Unfortunately, just like in other areas, when it comes to buying clothes we let ourselves trapped in compulsory consumption....

There is plenty of time till next Monday, when Hasmik will share her ideas…plenty to reflect on your consumption behaviour. Do you wear all clothes you buy? Have you already by the way, sorted your wardrobe out of things you don’t wear anymore? This is a self-discovery and self-reflection trip, enjoy!

With love for Research,

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(24) Fashion & Research: intro.

Browsing through the Fashion Bible – “VOGUE”  just like I would do with a book, I was looking for its introduction. It took me  12 pages of pictures with clothes and accessories to find the compass through a book: the introduction. Ah, fashion, are you only about selling? I don’t believe you! 😉

By the way, before the introduction, in a fashion magazine you will always find an Editor’s Note. Yes, just like in a scientific journal (for example, “Science” or “Elsevier“), fashion magazines have an Editor that is in charge of it all. But, who reads a fashion magazine anyway, if you see so many colourful pictures in it? Only joking, the fashionistas will probably prove me wrong. As of today, Researchista invites you to her Fashion  & Research Month!

New Picture

Why fashion? To some, fashion is an art form. To others, it is almost like a religion. For most people though, fashion is a method of utilizing clothing, accessories and grooming to show or hide something about yourself. Fashion can be an extension of your personality, allowing you to introduce parts of your personality to the world without saying a word“… Fashion is not only about clothing in ourdays, it’s about lifestyle in general. The ads in fashion magazine advice you what bags to wear with what accessories and make-up to match, what events to go and  what places to visit.

Yet, clothing is the backbone still of the entire fashion industry. Designers create,  we buy and we buy, because we want to look and feel good/or to transmit a signal to the rest about ourselves. Ah, finally I understood the “statement bag” expression that I would hear sometimes in Russian, it’s probably about the intention of someone wearing a specific bag to communicate a message to the public about their personality (their character, their seriousness, their coolness, etc.).

Fashion Industry: Behind the fashion curtains, you will find the designers and tailors, who work very hard to create that perfect piece of thing that will match everyone’s tastes.

The Story of Gabriel Chanel, Coco Chanel

Just like in academia and policy, fashion industry has a certain life-cycle (see Figure 1) or more phases from the moment when the clothing exists only as a piece of material (raw material), till the moment the costumer wears it and hopefully takes care of it after it has been used to either reuse or recycling it.

It looks like a perfect cycle, but we are not living during the time of Coco Chanel, now it is much faster to produce and buy more pieces of clothes that look the same. Mass-production of clothes became a norm.

Figure 1. Fashion cycle

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Source: modevlinder.com

Fashion retailers, otherwise known as “fast fashion” or big brands of clothing where most of us go shopping, unfortunately not always respect ethical conditions for their workers and nor do they always create a healthy environment for the clothing production.

Special Guest: This is the Fashion Month on Researchista. Our Special Guest Hasmik Matevosyan, whom I had the pleasure to meet at TEDxMaastricht, will enlighten us about the ‘dark sides’ of fashion cycle and how you and me and each of us can individually contribute towards a healthy clothing production, good for our environment, for our skin and for our wallet. Here she is flesh and bones (video) giving useful tips on how to wash your clothes to avoid pollution.

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Photo by Kevin Kwee

Hasmik did a lot Research during her masters studies and as a result of it, she published a book in which she came up with a business model by which she aims to change the way fashion industry currently works.

“The first time I got in touch with fashion was when I was a little girl. We were living in Armenia and after the Soviet Union feel apart, mom was earning money by knitting clothes. I saw all the hard work and creativity that went into designing and making a garment. I also saw how the clothes made her clients feel happy and confident. Mom taught me how to knit at the age of six and from that point on I wanted to become a fashion designer so that I could design clothes that contribute to people’s lives, make them happy”. Get to know better Hasmik as of next Monday. See how she could help us to help others to us all in reducing the harm caused to nature and people treated unfair in this area.

Researchista goes Fashionista: Instead of conclusion, I want to share with you a sneaky little story. Now, that it’s summer and nobody’s watching, Researchista is doing a little fashion experiment. Oh no, no, I did not start to sew, unfortunately. Neither I want to mass-produce something for you to wear. Instead… I decided to wear some fancy clothes on the street of this fancy town where I live to feel what is like to be someone doing fashion. Internet went viral recently in number of fashion bloggers, so I came up with my own little fashionista experiment…. voila! Are you a Researcher living in Maastricht? Do you want to join me next time? Leave me your letter at researchistas@gmail.com 🙂

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With love for Research,

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