The European Researchers’ Night 2019 (NEI 2019) took place on 27th September, from 6 p.m. to midnight, at the National Museum of Natural History and Science (MUHNAC-ULisboa) and Jardim do Príncipe Real, with various activities.
This year's edition was dedicated to “SciCity – Science in the City”. The topic aims to respond to the main concerns of urban communities related to the global changes planned for the coming decades, highlighting the relevance of science to ensure the quality of life in cities of the future and the preservation of cultural heritage as an essential factor for sustainability.
UCIBIO researchers were present in this year's edition with the following activities:
The scent of science - Biomolecular Engineering Lab
We can distinguish the good from the bad fruit and guess what the dinner is only through the smell, but there are many other odors that we will never recognize. Did you know that bacteria have odor? And it is possible to detect illnesses by only using the sense of smell?
Electronic noses are devices that can smell the ordinary odors, sometimes scents that we cannot detect. E-noses can be created to smell the freshness of food or detect pollutants in the air. In the Biomolecular Engineering Lab at FCT-NOVA/UCIBIO we are developing an electronic nose with the objective of helping doctors to quickly diagnose bacterial infections. This e-nose has sensors based on materials that are easily found in nature, such as gelatin, and in electronic devices, such as liquid crystals.
Enzymes in action - Microbial Stress Lab
Enzymes are proteins that accelerate the rate of chemical reactions, that is, they are catalysts. In each cell there are several enzymes that are involved in processes as distinct as cell division or the obtaining of energy. In order to study its function and structure we have to isolate them (purification). We will isolate, and identify the enzyme catalase, and check the action of a protease (that hydrolyses other proteins - proteolysis) on various fruits.
From wastes to biopolymers - Biochemical Engineering
Bacteria are able to produce bioplastics and other biopolymers. These biopolymers may be used in pharmaceuticals, food, cosmetics, biomedicine, packaging, etc. Further, the bacteria produce these biopolymers from wastes, avoiding the incineration or their disposal in the environment. In this activity the biopolymers production by bacteria will be explained, different biopolymers and their applications will be showed. Moreover, people will be able to test the biopolymers in different application, such as particles, emulsions, etc.
Bacterial machines make fuel for our machines - X-Tal Macromolecular Crystallography
The group has been studying, using X-ray crystallography, proteins from anaerobic and cellulolytic organisms with the biotechnological potential of producing bioethanol from agricultural and forest waste (biomass). In this activity, we will present a poster showing the available sustainable energies, highlighting the bioethanol. Another poster will explain the structure and composition of the plant cell wall and the necessary chemistry to convert it to bioethanol. We will show various X-ray structures from proteins studied in our group. A thematic quiz game will be played. It will be possible to see protein crystals, and we will explain briefly the work done in our lab.