The AACCI European Section (Cereals&Europe [C&E]) continued its journey from the charming Mediterranean city of Thessaloniki, Greece, to the European “Phoenix city,” Warsaw, Poland, located on the banks of the river Wisla. From April 18 to 20, 2018, the 17th European Young Cereal Scientists and Technologists Workshop (17th EYCSTW) was hosted by Warsaw University of Life Sciences (WULS-SGGW). WULS-SGGW is one of the oldest and largest universities in Poland. With more than 1,300 university teachers and instructors, the university consists of 13 faculties and 27,000 students. Following tradition, the 2018 workshop drew 30 young scientists from various European countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Poland, Finland, and Italy.
On Tuesday, April 17, at the Pulawska Residence Entrance Hall, participants were equipped with their room keys, sponsor gifts, and workshop program by the local organizers, Sabina Karp, Ewelina Pieczykolan, and Małgorzata Sobieralska, who are students in Dr. Marcin Kurek’s research group (WULS-SGGW). Attendees were welcomed at a “meet-and-greet” dinner organized to give them the chance to socialize and network in an informal setting.
The first day of the workshop, Wednesday, April 18, began with a great breakfast at the Pulawska Residence Dining Hall. Afterward, participants and the organizing committees gathered in the conference room where the workshop lectures were held. The opening session was kicked off by Dr. Peter Weegels (C&E chair), Dr. Marcin Kurek, and Prof. Agnieszka Wierzbicka (WULS-SGGW) who officially welcomed this year’s attendees. Next, Fatma Boukid (C&E student board member) gave a motivating talk underlining the great opportunities provided by AACCI and C&E for cereal scientists.
The theme of the first session of the day was gluten-free. The session opened with a captivating keynote lecture by Dr. Weegels that gave new insights into the open innovation of small and medium enterprises versus multinational companies. Following this lecture, participants took the floor to present their recent research findings concerning the quality and safety of gluten-free products. The attendees were extremely curious, asking many questions and sharing details about their trials. After lunch, during the second session, “Cereal Crops Versus Quality,” participants delivered several interesting presentations. The focus of the session was the influence of cereal breeding programs on chemical composition, functional characterization, and foodstuff applications. During the evening, participants, together with the organizing committee, took a bus to enjoy a surprise dinner. The destination was the Siwy Dym Restaurant, which is located in a beautiful old building. A delicious buffet that included typical Polish foods and beverages was specially arranged for the occasion. Polish folk songs playing in the background gave a special and authentic ambiance to the dinner. Participants had a good time chatting, sharing stories, and taking selfies. The 17th EYCSTW is trending!
The second day, Thursday, April 19, began with an outstanding keynote lecture on “Cereal beta-Glucan,” given by Dr. Kurek during which he discussed the current state and perspectives of his research project. The young cereal scientists then had the opportunity to present their results during the “Cereal Bioactive Components” session. After lunch, participants met in the lobby to head out to the Warka Brewery. The participants were welcomed by the Warka staff, and the tour began. The facilities were very modern, and the attendees were particularly curious about the processing steps, quality standards, and end-product quality. As soon the tour ended, the factory staff organized a beer tasting. Tired participants returned to the hotel for a quick rest. For dinner, attendees enjoyed delicious polish foods, casual discussions, and good company.
On the final day of the workshop, Friday, April 20, Dr. Agnieszka Nawrocka (Institute of Agrophysics Polish Academy of Sciences) delivered an interesting keynote lecture emphasizing the current application of spectroscopic techniques in studies of gluten protein structures. During the “Processing” session participants discussed wet/dry milling, fermentation, and malting and their associations with end-quality product. For the last session, “Pulses: The New ‘Superfood,’” Turkish participants delivered two innovative presentations.
During the closing session, Drs. Weegels, Kurek, and Mahir Turhan presented two awards for best oral presentation. The 17th EYCSTW Gold Award was given to Konstantinos Korompokis (Leuven Food Science and Nutrition Research Centre, Belgium), and the 17th EYCSTW Silver Award was given to Gaetano Cardone (University of Milan, Italy).
The 17th EYCSTW was another successful event organized by C&E, with great contributions and hospitality provided by WULS-SGGW. The 2018 event was the perfect opportunity for young cereal scientists to break the ice, get out of their comfort zone, and share their knowledge and expertise. On behalf of my fellow student participants, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to C&E for establishing and preserving this tradition. My sincere thanks also go to the sponsors for their contributions: GoodMills Innovation, Megazyme, ABenzymes, and Novozymes.
As the 17th EYCSTW comes to an end, young cereals scientists will keep up the good work, and next year our passion for cereals will bring us together for the 18th EYCSTW!