First EUGLOH Summer School

Education Article published on September 07 2020 , Updated on September 07 2020

Université Paris-Saclay and SOLEIL organised the first EUGLOH Summer School. This first edition, entirely online, was focused on large-scale facilities for global health.

From 29 June to 2 July 2020, the faculty of medicine of Université Paris-Saclay and the SOLEIL synchrotron, organised entirely online the first summer school of the EUGLOH alliance, dedicated to large-scale facilities for global health.

EUGLOH, or European Alliance for Global Health, is a strategic partnership between Université Paris-Saclay, who coordinates the project, Lund University (Sweden), Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (Germany), Porto University (Portugal), and Szeged University (Hungary). Created within the framework of the “European universities” initiative funded by the Erasmus+ programme, the alliance aims to create a pilot European University, driven by European values and committed to higher education and training on challenges related to global health and well-being. The five universities are combining their expertise and resources to offer the best education and training to their students in order to become a world-class higher education alliance, based on the excellence of their teaching and cutting-edge research and equipment.

Large-scale facilities for the benefit of all

The EUGLOH alliance is the only European university to have so many large-scale facilities available for their students and researchers. Yet, the public are unaware of their many areas of application as well as their accessibility. It is with this in mind that the idea of the school came to light, organised by two researchers who have been working together for many years, Dr. Slavka Kascakova, from the faculty of medicine, and Dr. Matthieu Réfrégiers, from SOLEIL.

Targeting a broad audience, both by level of study (students, doctoral candidates, researchers, engineers, staff…) as well as nationality and career path, the school brought together 72 participants, with 61 connections at a given time, from the 5 members of the alliance. Thanks to the school, participants were able to discover in detail the career opportunities, operations, techniques and range of applications (biomedical, environmental and nutrition) of electromagnetic radiation sources such as SOLEIL at Saclay and MAX IV in Lund, and of lasers such as ELI-ALPS in Szeged.

Innovative methods and education at the heart of the school

In the light of the Covid crisis, the school had to be entirely transferred online, without nevertheless losing the rich programme, which was a blend of technical presentations, workshops (data extraction and analysis, shaping ideas, writing articles and complex projects), but also included business speed dating, virtual visits and the essential social programme.

To face the new situation, the organisers were able to count on the mobilisation of all EUGLOH partners, speakers and students alike, as well as on the decisive support of the UPSaclay innovative education department, the CentraleSupélec Academic Writing Center in cooperation with LMU, and of the international relations department at UPSaclay.

A special session on the Covid was organised at the beginning of the school by 2 specialists from the Lund virology centre with a talk given by a researcher from SOLEIL. The social programme was also maintained, enabling participants to meet, open up to the cultures of the different universities (cooking recipes, intercultural quizzes, movie night followed by a debate with the producer…) and to relax (stretching and yoga exercises, for example). Furthermore, the virtual visit of large-scale facilities was possible thanks to the many tools already developed by the communication department of SOLEIL (virtual visit, 3D reconstitution of beamlines…).

An adventure to be continued

The school was a success as several students testified. Réka Eszter Szabó, pharmacy student at the University of Szeged, explains: “I learned a lot and had fun at the same time. I was able to create in collaboration with other international students […] all the while benefitting from the advice of highly-qualified teachers. Furthermore, I didn’t think the social programme could work online. And yet, it was great fun, just like a traditional summer school.”

Doctoral candidate at the ISMO, Mai D.L. Vuong particularly appreciated the business speed dating with SOLEIL researchers, opening up new possibilities for her professional orientation. What is more, in spite of the distance, she was able to use the facilities at SOLEIL to carry out research in biomedicine in order to submit a project for beamtime.

“I hope that participants have understood that large-scale instruments used in physics can also be used by other communities (for biomedicine, the environment or nutrition for instance),” concludes Matthieu Réfrégiers. On another note, in spite of the virtual event, Slavka Kascakova made new contacts, namely with a lab director from Lund who attended the school. They should be starting a new research collaboration in the near future. Building on the success of the school, both organisers are already thinking about a new edition for next year, blending distance and face-to-face learning this time, and other EUGLOH schools should soon follow. Do not hesitate to check the website of the alliance to follow the news and other events available all year round.