'Meet our grantees' 4: Hanna Bandarenka, Head of Applied Plasmonics Laboratory, Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics
In the 'Meet our grantees' series we present beneficiaries of our EaP PLUS grants to attend brokerage (networking) events. Now we publish the 4th interview with Hanna Bandarenka.
Hello, dear friends! My name is Hanna Bandarenka and I have just turned 38 years old. My Motherland is Belarus. Since my birth, I have lived in Minsk, which is the capital of this amazing country. Here are my lovely family including parents, husband, son and daughter, funny and loyal friends, respective colleagues and favorite professional activity related to scientific research. I am not confined only to science, but also interested in rock and classical music, European and Latin American dancing, playing tennis and swimming. I am very keen of the history and culture of various countries. That is why travelling is my hobby. I have visited many countries in Europe, North America and Asia. I like to adapt to various cultures for better studying them and admire the lifestyle of different nations. On the other hand, I enjoy very much talking about mild climate, nature, traditions and modern life of my home country to introduce it to people all around the world.
Hanna Bandarenka - EaP PLUS Grantee
Can you please explain your professional background?
My Alma Mater is the Belarusian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics. My specialty is related to Microelectronics and Nanotechnology. I graduated from the University as an electrical engineer with honorary diploma in 2004 and decided to continue education in graduate and postgraduate studies. In the beginning of my scholarly work, I had been mostly focused on development of metallization and Layer Transfer Technology for ICs and MEMS, fabrication of metallic membranes for drug delivery via electroporation by wet chemistry and electrochemistry. I developed methods that were introduced in industry at JSC “INTEGRAL” (Minsk, Belarus) and tested for the technology of MEMS and electroporation device for the drug delivery in Rise Technology ltd. (Padova, Italy) and the Sapienza University (Rome, Italy). In 2010, I started going along the new research branch on development of nanomaterials demonstrating activity in surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS), which is a very prospective ultrasensitive method for biomedical analysis. In 2015, my innovation project devoted to this topic was awarded with the Diploma for young researchers in the range of competition of the Innovation Projects in Belarus. As a result, I organized the small-scale production of the SERS-active nanomaterials and now they are commercially available.
In April 2016, I was offered to take a position of Deputy Vice-Rector. In the range of this position, I was involved in planning and managing the R&D activity at my University in diverse fields of science and technology. At the same time, I tried to be active in my particular research (I organized my own group, worked as principal investigator of two projects, prepared papers) and teaching work. Having worked in this position for two years, in March 2018 I decided to leave it and concentrate on my particular scientific research and teaching.
What is your current professional situation?
Currently, I am the head of the Applied Plasmonics Laboratory at my University. My team of five young and talented researches is directly involved in the process of fabrication and characterization of the SERS-active substrates as well as works with organic/bioorganic analytes and Raman/SERS measurements. In general, this research can improve sensitivity of biomedical analysis for early diagnostics and successful therapy of various diseases. Our developments have been awarded several times at scientific and industrial exhibitions.
In addition, I combine my research activity with teaching at the Micro- and Nanoelectronics Department as an Associate Professor. My courses are “Design and Fabrication of Nanostructures” and “Hybrid Nanostructures”. I really enjoy communicating with young people while teaching them. I try to instill in students love to science.
What is the focus of your scientific research project?
In my project, I propose to create a novel multifunctional platform for biosensing in many areas including but not limited to medicine, biology, ecology, forensics and pharmaceutics. This platform will allow to perform a reliable express-analysis of diverse materials solving the problem of simultaneous detection, identification and structural study of target substances at ultralow concentrations down to the single molecule level which is still impossible today. The proposing platform will operate basing on plasmonic and luminescent effects in nanostructures. However, it will break the conventional limitations associated with these phenomena via nonstandard combination of several types of nanomaterials including biodegradable luminescent-plasmonic particles, originally sculptured plasmonic substrates and graphene derivatives. The particles linked with a target molecule will work in a dual mode showing luminescence for the imaging and the following enhanced Raman response for molecule’s fingerprinting due to plasmonic properties. At the same time, the underlying sculptured plasmonic substrate coated with graphene derivative will contribute into the Raman signal to improve the sensitivity of this platform. During the project, fabrication technique and characterization of the luminescent biodegradable particles based on nanostructured silicon of plant origin coated with plasmonic metal will be developed. The originally sculptured solid substrates modified with graphene derivatives will be created to solve such important problems of the surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy as weak reproducibility of spectra and low photo- and thermal stability of the analyte. The morphological peculiarity of the solid SERS-active substrate will be applied to scan macromolecules revealing all their bonds including minor ones. Such bonds’ scanning is extremely important for the structural study of newly synthetized molecules. The reliability of the sensing platform will be proved by the study of a number of bioanalytes including peptides, proteins, DNAs, miRNAs, physiological liquids (tears, serum blood, etc.) and living cells.
What were you able to achieve/which event were you able to attend thanks to the EaP PLUS grant?
The EaP PLUS grant gave me a great chance to attend the ICT Proposers' Day, which was held in November, 2017 in Budapest, Hungary. This event offered an opportunity to build quality partnerships in the field of Information & Communication Technologies and Future & Emerging Technologies (FET) with academics, researchers, industrial stakeholders, SMEs and government actors from all over Europe. My particular interest was to personally meet European colleagues, share and discuss our projects with them. The special focus of this event on the informational technologies met the requirements of my project in finding partners and highly qualified specialists, who can help to design an algorithm of processing spectra database planning to be created with my sensing platform, simulate properties of nanostructures of the platform, and contribute to the development of bioanalysis methodology.
In which way did the EaP PLUS grant contribute to support your scientific research project?
I applied for the EaP PLUS grant pursuing the goal not only to contribute to my own research but also to present my University and its scientific projects to the European ICT community. Using online networking platform before the event I looked for projects’ partners by checking the list of participants, introduction of my University as a possible partner, exchanging projects’ ideas. This allowed me to organize about 40 face-to-face meetings with potential partners. In general, I was able to establish contacts with nearly 60 representatives of the European research and business community. During information sessions, I studied in detail how to prepare and submit a proposal to for the Horizon 2020 calls as well as learned about intellectual property rights, better access to finance and so on. I had fruitful discussions on urgent questions connected with my personal scientific project and other projects of my University, which allowed to find the most important research directions and concentrate our attention on them. Today it promotes optimization of our developments in the way that fits both Belarusian and European interests. The face-to-face communication with European colleagues allowed me to recommend our specialists as professionals in their field and, in general, to enhance the scientific reputation of the Belarusians.
I had the first hand answers on many questions related to organizing research consortiums, application of information technologies for biomedical research, clinical trials and so on in the light of the countries in the European Union. Currently, I have continuous correspondence and cooperation with colleagues I met during the ICT Proposers Day. Figuratively speaking the EaP PLUS grant increased mutual understanding between the Belarusian and European people and played a role of one of the bricks in the Belarus-Europe bridge.
What are the next steps of your scientific research project (where do you see yourself in the next 5 years)?
I will further develop my project by submitting applications for grants supported under Belarusian and European programs. In particular, in 2018 I uploaded the ERC Starting Grant proposal. The results will be announced in the end of this summer and I am looking forward to hear about them. I have strong intention to create the research and development center that will design and produce nanostructured materials for the ultrasensitive analysis by the SERS spectroscopy with characteristics meeting requirements of the customers. The other key activity of the center will be carrying out an assay of different substances according to requests from medical, research and educational organizations. This idea was born because of my experience in development and implementation of the SERS-active substrates as well as fulfilling the requests from scientists and medical specialists in the detection and study of different organic/bioorganic molecules. The activity that will be performed in the center I plan to organize will help me to make my obsessive dream come true via creation of “a tool” to overcome the problems of SERS-spectroscopy and introduce this method into routine biomedical analysis.