The first Newsletter

by | May 5, 2022 | News

e-newsletter 1 CHRONIC consortium

Nov 22th 2021

Please find here the first e-newsletter for Chronic. As you know, the Marie Curie Initial Training Networks are international partnerships created by research teams in different Member or Associate States, which, through a common project, promote the initial training of researchers in the beginning of their careers. ITNs are designed to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative ‘Early Stage Researchers’ (ESRs). Although we did not meet in person, I can clearly see a group of scientists get connected and brings all their creativity together. How can I make this stance, well…. I think if you read this e-newsletter in which the ESRs introduce themselves, you will come to similar conclusions. And have a look on the process of how we came to the logo we now are going to use. I am convinced we are looking forwards having some great, creative and inspiring research years.


Table of Contents
1. Meet the ESRs ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 2
2. Bullet board of events that have been held and upcoming events ………………………………………… 6
3. THE FIRST (ONLINE) EVENTS ………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 7
4. IMPRESSION OF THE FIRST MONTHS …………………………………………………………………………………….. 8
5. LOGO CREATION …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 9
Acknowledgements ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 10

Meet the ESRs

Kevin Noort

Kevin Noort is a Dutch PhD student working at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology under supervision of David Spurgeon and Henriette Selck. He finished an International Master in Biodiversity, Ecology and Evolution as an ERASMUS student at the Free University in Amsterdam (NL) and the Université de Rennes 1 (FR). He graduated on his study of metabolic insecticide resistance in beetles and, during his PhD, will be focussing on the identification and mechanistic attribution of synergistic interactions in chemical mixtures. Also, Kevin is a student representative on the CHRONIC advisory board along with Oihane Del Puerto.


Sofie Rasmussen

Sofie Rasmussen is a PhD student at the Institute of Environmental Sciences of Leiden University under supervision of Martina G. Vijver and dr. Thijs Bosker. Sofie has a background as an Environmental Engineer majoring in environmental risk assessment. Her focus during her PhD will be on chemical stressors from anthropogenic activities on benthic freshwater systems. Data collection for the project will be done following different approaches; from lab-derived experiments, to outdoor mesocosms.


Maria Kloukinioti

Maria Kloukinioti is a PhD candidate in Aquatic Ecotoxicology at Lund University under supervision of Olof Berglund and co-supervisor is Anders Nilsson. Her research focuses on assessing effects of long-term exposure to pollutants on individuals’ behaviour. She am particularly interested in effects on the variability of behavioural traits within and among populations exposed to pollutants, as this may influence interactions in the food web. Specifically, She will study traits associated with predator responses of prey, e.g., activity, boldness, escape/hiding responses, in different model organisms. The aim is to use behavioural effects in ERAs linking individual responses to changes on population and community level.


Jian Ge

Mr. Jian Ge is currently a PhD student in the Department of Ecoscience at Aarhus University under supervision of main supervisor is Martin Holmstrup and co-supervisors are Stine Slotsbo and Jesper Givskov Sørensen. During his PhD study, he will focus on the interaction between climatic change and low-dose toxicants in the long-term using typical soil invertebrates as model species. The main hypothesis of his research is that chronic exposure to low levels of contaminants provokes protective reactions at the molecular level, which provide protection against other type of stressor such as climatic stress. The study will assess the effects of these stressors from the aspects of growth performance, reproduction, behaviour and life history. Furthermore, he will try to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanism using transcriptomic analysis.


Wing Sze Charlie Chan

Charlie is a PhD student in aquatic toxicology within the Department of Science and Environment of Roskilde University under the supervision of Dr. Henriette Selck. She has a background in biology and environmental science. Her research focuses on the understanding of behavioural change in benthic invertebrate under chronic exposure of pharmaceuticals. Her objective is to link the changes in biomarker and behaviors under different environmental settings. Her data collection in CHRONIC will be done mainly from lab-derived experiments.

Martina Santobuono

Martina Santobuono is a PhD student supervised by Professor Henriette Selck, in Roskilde University Department of Science and Environment (Denmark). During her PhD, she will assess how chronic exposure of antidepressants at environmental relevant concentrations, impacts benthic invertebrates living in freshwater and estuarine sediments. One of her main project goals will be to show how these contaminants may affect the organisms in multiple generations.


Shivani Ronanki

Shivani will be doing her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Nico Van den Brink in Wageningen University, Netherlands. Her academic interests mainly lie in integrating evolutionary biology and animal physiology. She is interested in learning about how animals evolve in response to environmental stress because of growing urbanization. For her PhD project she will be studying how great tits (Parus major) adapt to urban environments with focus on their immune system. In her free time, she likes painting and be out in the nature.


Oihane Del Puerto Bengoetxea

Oihane Del Puerto Bengoetxea obtained her BSc in Biology and Erasmus Mundus MSc in Marine Environment and Resources from the University of the Basque Country. During her master’s, she made use of ecotoxicity bioassays in aquatic risk assessment and analyzed cellular and molecular biomarkers for toxicity testing of environmental pollutants. Before joining the CHRONIC consortium, she was part of the MSCA-ITN AQUAlity project in where she developed bioanalytical tools to analyze the efficiency of different UV technologies for the removal of Contaminants of Emerging Concern (CECs) from drinking water. Within CHRONIC and under the supervision of Ph.D. Roman Ashauer, her research topic focuses on in silico modelling of toxic effects of low doses of pesticides in terrestrial organisms.


Luca Boldrini

Luca works at SCK CEN (Belgium) in the Biosphere Impact Studies group lead by professor Nele Horemans. In addition, he is under the supervision of professor Henriette Selck from Roskilde University (Denmark). He has a background in molecular biology with plant epigenetics as specialization. His project focuses on the analysis of long-term epigenetic effects on Lemna minor plants after chronic exposure to nuclear accident relevant radionuclides. This plant is a model organism within ecotoxicology and the only freshwater plant for regulatory toxicity testing for chemicals.


Shankari Anna Balan

Shankari Anna Balan, has a background in microbiology and biochemistry, and is passionate about molecular ecotoxicology of persistent pollutants like plastics, pesticides, perfluoroalkyls. She submitted a dissertation thesis on “Toxicity of Plastic Leachate on microalgae isolated from Pallikaranai  freshwater marsh” during her Masters degree. She is working in the project of studying multigenerational genetic and epigenetic effects of persistent pollutants in C. elegans at UKCEH, Wallingford, under the supervision of Dave Spurgeon and Nico Van Den Brink.


Assif Friedman

Wildlife ecotoxicology addresses the stress that anthropogenic pollution in its different forms might exert on the ecosystem and its inhabitants and promote adverse health effects. Such effects might result in the individual immune system modulation and de-facto impairing its resistance to disease agents. Those individuals irrevocably become the natural reservoirs hosts for an array of pathogens, and spillover events to another species might eventually occur, resulting in an emerging infectious disease. The importance of wildlife health and its link to human health is paramount in light of recent pandemic events that arose worldwide as zoonotic diseases. Assif’s Ph.D. project will focus on the effects of chronic exposure to a mixture of heavy metals on the immune system’s ability to fight pathogens in wood mice (Apodemus sylvaticus). The wood mice are genetically similar to lab mice and serve as an excellent candidate to explore the effects of heavy metals on wildlife species as the extrapolation is considerably more straightforward. The project will be performed at the Université de Franche-Comté (UBFC) under supervision of Dr. Renaud Sciefler and Dr. Nico van den Brink (Wageningen University).

Matteo Schiavinato

Matteo Schiavinato is a PhD student at Wageningen University & Research, in Netherlands, where he work on the Marie-Curie ITN project “Chronic”, with the supervision of professor Nico van den Brink, at Wageningen University & Research (The Netherlands) and professor David Spurgeon, at UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (United Kingdom). He got a bachelor’s degree in biology, and then a master’s degree in evolutionary biology at the University of Padova, in Italy, and his interests focus on evolution and behavior in birds. His research aims to understand how the polluted urban environment can increase telomere attrition for an increase in oxidative stress, and how this mechanism may act actually as a biological clock in animals, triggering a premature senescence, a modification of the expression of genes related for example to behavior, and impacting on the overall wildlife bird fitness. His activity is divided between work in laboratory and in field.


Jacqueline Hilgendorf

Jacqueline Hilgendorf is the PhD candidate at the University of Aveiro, Portugal, under the supervision of Susana Loureiro. Before, she studied Environmental Impact Assessment at the University of Koblenz-Landau in Germany, specialising in Limnology and Ecotoxicology. Her research interest was the impact of wastewater treatment plants on benthic invertebrates, measuring different physiological biomarkers to assess the effects of the chemical mixture in the effluents. In her ongoing PhD project, she evaluates chemical-induced initiating events (lower level of biological organisation) and individual-level responses (physiology and behaviour) in Lumbriculus variegatus under long-term, low-level exposures. These non-standard endpoints will be investigated under combined stressors’ exposures (chemical, abiotic and biotic stressors) to evaluate the consistency of the individual response. In the end, AOPs will be conducted to link effects across different levels of biological organisation.



2. Bullet board of events that have been held and upcoming events 


  • Chronic kick off meeting (online) : Oct 12th 2021
  • Friday Café
  • SETAC UK (SETAC Early Career Researcher Workshop) : Oct 20th 2021
  • PhD project and Career development plans: Nov 17th 2021


  • Website content, social media (for 4 ESRs + 1 staff) with Alain the web developer: Dec 3th
    2021. (After 18 months we will ask others if they want to rotate on this job.)
  • SETAC Copenhagen May 15-19 2022 SETAC Copenhagen – SETAC Europe 32nd Annual Meeting

Note also: virtually you can have meetings every day, please choose consciously (and discuss which meetings give you most impact/ and approve with your supervisor).


We got to learn the whole team. We learned about the data management, the science – impact interface and about the scientific content of our research as well as the secondments that belong to a MC-ITN.
We used interactive (menti) questions to find out what a non-conventional endpoint means to each of us. Here the results that were discussed. The larger the word appears in the cloud, the more often it has been mentioned by participants. It is great to see that many biomarkers, physiological endpoints have been mentioned as well as that behavioural and interactions have been reported. As can be concluded many non-conventional endpoints on species level that relate to populations or communities will be studied in the MS ITN CHRONIC consortium.

Also the question “what do you want to get out of a secondment (x-months visit)? “was addressed and discussed. We will do all we can to fulfil these wishes.



Impression of the first months by Matteo:


Do you remember the day in which you faced the interview? Anxiety mixed with joy, and then, that email that somehow changed your life. In those sunny days, this adventure seemed so far away, but now it has begun, and a some things have happened. On October 12, the first meeting where we could see each other for the first time, and then the road has opened up to regular appointments. The Training Event A in fact, it opened with a lesson on the introduction to ecotoxicology and to an introduction on the regulatory risk assessment. On October 20, the SETAC conference opened our eyes to our future prospects in view of an academic future, and the precious advice of those who have already embarked on this path are truly precious. The CHRONIC lessons continued with a course on the Exposure modelling in risk assessment, and the Monitoring application for management and stewardship. Then, on Friday 29, our first Friday Cafe, in which we had the task of thinking about some ideas regarding the project logo. In the following days, the lessons continued on Multiple stressor and mixture effects and TK/TD modelling. On Friday 5, we finally presented and discussed some colorful ideas about our future logo. Creativity is a skill that we do not lack in the group apparently, and this has generated some difficulties in choosing one design in particular, but we confide that we will get a logo which represent the essence of each of us. The next tasks are to complete the PhD Project Plan and the Career Development Plan, and then
finally we can open the first page of our personal website. Take care!


In the Friday café we assigned the task to prepare draft logos, which then can be of inspiration for a graphical designer to help us with a logo. We all agreed that having a logo is essential for communication and branding purposes. Small break out groups were created. Criteria to prepare a logo were identified by the different groups and where brought together (these are the people who made the first ideas).

Inclusion factors were:

  • Simple as possible
  • Add Marie Curie ITN (full name)
  • Add Chronic
  • Recognizable
  • Informative
  • “clean” details
  • Exclusion factor: No flags

It was really really all creative and we loved seeing the different
drawings. Inspired by the drawings, Stine and her team created logos. And after a vote, in total 31 persons of the consortium voted, we have ourselves now a logo. It is also amazing to see that all of them have been voted at least once… this diversity of choices also makes the team rocketly diverse and thus creative and excellent