Biosensors and Lab-on-a-Chip
Jenny started out at Lund University in Sweden, and has many years’ experience in microtechnology and the development of biosensors. She, along with her colleagues at DTU Nanotech, will contribute to SUREAQUA with their expertise on integrated sensor systems such as lab-on-a-chip (LOC).
As Jenny explains, “If you go into a normal laboratory, you have these huge mass spectrometers and other huge analytical equipment with pumps, injection valves, detectors, and so on that fill a whole laboratory. What we are trying to do is miniaturise this and put everything on a chip. We’ve come quite far at Nanotech.”
These chips can be used for a wide variety of monitoring purposes from pathogens or pesticides to fish behaviour. They can also often be easily transferred across disciplines such as from the life sciences to the energy or environmental fields. For example, Jenny is currently engaged in an EU project looking at developing wireless communication for chips in brain implants. The same or a similar chip could be placed in the field for environmental monitoring purposes and communicated with via a smartphone.
“We have a whole group of people coming into the field who are not aware of what we did 10 or 15 years ago. So, I have gone back and started doing biosensors again!”
“Research for biosensors has been ongoing for a long time,” notes Jenny who started in the environmental field developing prototypes for identifying phenolics and pesticides. “A lot of my colleagues around Europe were doing this. But it was extremely frustrating because there was no legislation saying that you had to measure pesticides and phenolics so there were no companies that were willing to invest in it.” Since then, the nanotechnology field has exploded and, “We have a whole group of people coming into the field who are not aware of what we did 10 or 15 years ago. So, I have gone back and started doing biosensors again!”
SUREAQUA - Connecting Minds and Resources
“Personally, this is something I’ve been yearning for a lot,” says Jenny about the establishment of the Centre. She is especially enthused about the holistic approach of SUREAQUA, which interlinks the social and economic aspects with science and technology, as well as gender.
“I think that this is such an important part for the future, and I think more and more you will have a focus on gender in science. I am not an expert, but I have been responsible for addressing gender in the sciences and I really think it is important.”
One of the main goals of SUREAQUA is to stimulate research, recruitment, and the transfer of technology and research-based knowledge. Jenny, like many others, is wearing more than one hat in SUREAQUA and in addition to bringing her technical expertise will be coordinating the training and education activities of the Centre. This will include a variety of learning opportunities related to the bioeconomy such as established courses and summer schools through the university partners. In addition, a number of Masters, PhDs and PostDoc positions will be offered as well as online learning such as webinars, and student and researcher exchanges.
For example, for those interested in getting hands-on training in polymer microfabrication, DTU Nanotech will be running the Polynano Summer School
in August of this year. As Jenny explains, “You don’t need any previous experience except for some kind of scientific background – it is very broad ranging from biology to engineering.”
Keep an eye on the Student page
for information about upcoming activities and opportunities.
Jenny Emnéus is a professor with DTU Nanotech at the Technical University of Denmark. Her expertise is in bioanalytical chemistry, electrochemistry, the development of lab-on-a-chip platforms and biosensors. Jenny will be leading the coordination of the training and education activities of SUREAQUA.