Materials Science, Boston University, Massachusetts
Visiting the USA and Boston University was a life-changing experience. It is not just another country, it is a completely new world. I was exposed to many new and different ideas, cultures and visions. Boston being an academic and research oriented city (more than 50 Universities and Institutions in the greater area!!) presents unique opportunities for networking but also to explore diverse cultures. There are world famous museums of art, natural history, science, American history and even a very unique and fascinating children’s museum. Furthermore, Boston was the epicentre of the American revolution, so many historic landmarks are located inside the city and can be visited by following the Freedom Trail.
Working in the Photonics Center of Boston University provided me with expertise that is hard to find. I was introduced to state of the art electronics and microscopy techniques that will prove beneficial for my future projects, since their application is quite universal. I focused on a novel microscopy technique, named Stimulated Raman Scattering. Using this technique I was able to monitor the uptake of antibiotics from micro-organisms and investigate the mechanism that leads to treatment. Furthermore, I collaborated with a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital to explore the effects of a newly developed medicine on neurons and its potential use for treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
It was also quite clear to me from the first day that a specific mindset is necessary. Problem solving and pioneering in the field was the road to follow and although it involved really hard work, it certainly paid off. To boost this commitment, the university provided all the necessary tools, facilities and support staff while showing its appreciation to research staff by frequently organizing parties and dinners for everybody. Seminars and conferences were also part of the program and I participated as often as possible. At the annual conference of the Photonics Center which attracts visitors from all over the world, I was able to present my former work in the Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas (FORTH) which gave spark to some fruitful discussions with many researchers.
They have been six unprecedented and busy months which pushed me to make the transition from student to researcher.
Konstantinos Mavrakis a a Fulbright Alumnus of the 2019-2020 Visiting Research Student Program
Photo: Konstantinos Mavrakis