S3++ 2019

Požega, August 8th - August 18th

Projects Workshops Lectures


Nanotechnology – it’s a piece of cake!

Nanotechnology is hailed as having the potential to increase the efficiency of energy consumption, help clean the environment and solve major health problems. The research in nanotechnology ranges from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to direct control of matter on the atomic scale. Its applications are diverse, spanning from medicine and biology to physics and engineering. In order for nanotechnology to be easily accessible to the research community and the private sector, new, simple and low-cost-of-entry methods are needed.

In this project, we will explore a simple fabrication method for nanotechnology. We will use the glass poling technique and electric field assisted dissolution of metals to create and modify various glass samples. By using high temperature and voltage (an oven and a voltage source), we will modify the mechanical and chemical structure of the glass substrates with and without a metal nanoparticle layer thereby introducing surface patterning. Students will learn about different glass compositions, ion transfer, nanoparticles and their optical properties. The focus of this project will be on experimental work and the expected result will be a simple method for micro and nano structuring.

Boris Okorn
Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia

Boris Okorn recently obtained a PhD in electrical engineering. Currently he is a postdoc at the Ruđer Bošković Institute. Previously, he was a part of the levitation project at S3++ 2016. His area of research is nano-electromagnetics. Outside of work his interests include, but are not limited to: rowing, cycling, and with equal passion searching for his next postdoc topic and a potential D&D group.

Petar Pervan
Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia

Petar Pervan is a PhD student at the University of Rijeka, Department of Physics, and a research assistant at Ruđer Bošković Institute, Laboratory for optics and optical thin films. His areas of research are optical films and photonic structures for application in new devices. He can be seen cycling around town to either play chess or do street workouts. Alternatively, he cannot be seen while reading or watching movies since he does that at home.

The key to our consciousness

Consciousness has always been one of the big mysteries of humankind through the ages. Firstly studied by philosophers, it is only recently (~1990) that science started to take interest in it with the emergence of cognitive sciences. Today, we understand better what consciousness is and we define it mainly as the function that allows us experiencing subjectively information that the brain receives. We call that conscious access. The studies on this topic showed that we can do many things unconsciously, like for example simple arithmetic tasks. Moreover, we can understand better some pathologies like the vegetative state and even schizophrenia. Yet, while we are always pushing further the frontier between the unconscious and consciousness, we are still not sure what is the advantage of being able to report subjective information. So, can we build a simple experiment where we would assess what is the purpose of consciousness?

The goal of this project is to build a behavioral experiment using Python and one of its library: PsychoPy. Firstly, we will learn core knowledge about cognitive sciences by testing ourselves on psychophysics experiments and analyzing the results using simple statistical analysis. Secondly, we will improve one of these experiments and thirdly see how we can modify it in order to study the limits of unconscious processing. Thus, this project will cover entirely what makes science, from criticizing a study to producing new results.

Sébastien Czajko
Paris Descartes University, France

Sébastien is currently an M2 student in cognitive sciences. He is doing an internship at Neurospin in order to see if we can read brain signals to know what numbers participants are thinking of using machine learning and a MRI scanner. However, his main interest lies in understanding better what is really consciousness and if we could one day have conscious AI agents. He also enjoys a lot running and hiking.

Analyze my.DNA

It became fairly easy and cheap for all of us to obtain our genome, or at least parts of it - you simply order a genotyping test online and send your biological material (saliva) to the selected company. Within a month, your genotype (genetic info) is accessible online. What can you do with this information? Some companies provide an info about ancestry, traits and phenotypes, or even genetic health risks. Other companies do not provide any additional info – at least not free of charge – although bioinformatical analyses are needed to get to know your genome.

Which genetic health risk tests are available on the market at the moment? How accurate are the results of direct-to-consumer tests? Are they up-to-date with the recent scientific discoveries? Which additional analyses of the human genotypes are available? To answer these questions, we will use the Internet - a miraculous source of information today. We will identify direct-to-consumer tests for various traits and diseases. We will analyze differences between companies’ offers. We will go deeper into the scientific literature about disease susceptibility and genetic background for various human traits inorder to improve the current tests (for example, by stratifying analyses according to the population structure). We will analyze publically available human genotypes. We will incorporate our programming scripts into the myDNA R package, and write how-to manuals. This will make the result of our project open-source, e.g. our scripts will be freely available to anyone who wants to analyze their genome.

Inga Patarčić
Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Germany

Inga Patarcic is a PhD Student at the Bioinformatics Platform Group, Berlin. She has been analyzing biological questions using computational methods since her high-school days at V. gymnasium, Zagreb. She participated at S3++ as a student and project leader. With her background in molecular biology, population genetics, and bioinformatical she daily builds machine learning models to associate human genes with regulatory regions. In her opinion, the best free-time activity is climbing supplemented with some yoga, route-setting, travelling and the sound of an irish whistle.

Julia Hamblin-Trué
University of Applied Sciences, Germany

Julia Hamblin-Trué is a Product Management student at CODE University of Applied Sciences, Berlin. She participated in past two S3++ Camps. In school her favorite topic in Biology class was Genetics as she is fascinated by what makes us who we are. She loves her university course Science, Technology & Society, where the global impacts and implications of Science and Technology are discussed. In her free time she acts, sings and plays guitar and piano. She enjoys cooking and going running in nature.

Machine learning to solve a math problem in seconds

Machine learning is all the rage nowadays, in various industries and the general public. Not without reason, of course - it has been shown that machines can outperform humans on various tasks such as understanding the content of an image, translating languages, medical diagnostics and many more. This is still mostly an unexplored territory with many problems yet to be solved, which is going to tremendously change our lives.

In this project we are going to analyze the task of scanning and solving math problems. We will investigate how we can do it using various machine learning algorithms. We will create an app that takes an image of a math problem, create a machine learning model that reads a math problem presented on the image, and create a simple math problem solver that will return the solution for the given problem. We will analyse different machine learning algorithms and get the sense of their advantages and weaknesses. We will also discuss whether this kind of app is a learning or cheating tool and what it has to offer to a student in order to become their everyday tool. Using this interesting problem we will demonstrate how machine learning can nowadays be applied in various tasks that a few years ago seemed impossible for computers.

Ivan Jurin
Photomath, Croatia

Ivan is a Research Software Engineer at Photomath in Zagreb, Croatia. He is one of the engineers behind the machine learning algorithms that read mathematical equations in the app Photomath. He graduated from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing at the University of Zagreb. The main focus of his studies was using machine learning approaches in the field of computer vision. In Photomath he continues to work in the field, especially focused on designing machine learning models running on mobile devices. In his free time, Ivan likes hiking, travelling, long walks on sandy beaches, and of course, great food.

The Rise of the Superbugs

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotic resistance is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security and development. Without urgent action within years we could be living in a post-antibiotic era, where minor injuries and infections could be fatal.

In this project we will explore the defense mechanisms bacteria employ to avoid harm from humans’ medical weapons. We will discover where bacteria come from, how they become resistant and ways in which we can use their skills to our advantage.

Using traditional bacterial culturing methods we will grow our own bacteria and elucidate what can make or break our cultures. Students will design a study to uncover the mechanisms behind acquired antibiotic resistance. After exposing the bacteria to different environments and conditions we will analyse the grown bacteria and perform statistical tests. Meanwhile we will make our own, useful, resistant bacteria by transforming them with resistance genes. We will discuss how these bacteria can be used as mini-machines in the laboratory. Finally, we will debate what the future of the human-bacteria relationship could, or should, be.

Emily Richardson
University of Leicester, UK

Emily is a second year PhD student in molecular and cell biology at the University of Leicester, UK. Her research centers on the mechanisms of metastasis in lung cancer. She is a keen science communicator and shares her science and PhD life on Instagram and Twitter (@biochemily). Outside of the lab she is a keen baker, cat lover and traveller.

The Butterfly Effect

When we look at all the different areas of science, it is sometimes hard to see similarities between them, especially when comparing natural sciences with social sciences. But there is one question that can be posed in all of them. The question we are referring to is time evolution, or how systems change over time. This question is very important since it allows science to predict how a given system will behave and can be applied to different fields of research. For example, we might be interested in how long some kind of machines are expected to work properly, or we could try to predict the behavior of financial markets. Weather forecasting is one more example.

In this project we are going to study the underlying principles of time evolution that can be later applied to any kind of system. It turns out that time evolution can always be described by a set of some equations. The problem is that in most cases, these equations are so horrible that we have no hope of writing the general solution for them. Here we are going to try and understand the behavior of the solutions without solving the equations. As long as we are not interested in specific numbers, this will allow us to qualitatively describe what happens to some system. At this point you might ask why we do not just plug the equations in a computer and get the solution that way. The problem with that is that these equations have infinitely many solutions and the computer cannot possibly compute all of them. But, if we know qualitatively what happens, then we can tell the computer which solutions we want and that is something the computer is able to do. In summary, we could say that in this project we will try to do math with a minimal amount of computation as possible.

Grgur Šimunić
Ruđer Bošković Institute, Croatia

Grgur studied physics at the University of Zagreb where he got his M.Sc. and is now a PhD student at the Ruđer Bošković Institute. There he works on generalized geometry and its applications to string theory (and similar systems). Grgur is also a teaching assistant at the University of Zagreb for several physics and math courses. He became involved with the popularization of science a few years ago when he was holding a few workshops at Summer School of Physics and last year he was a technical assistant at S3++.



Tornado warning

Tornadoes, violently rotating columns of air, are one of the most raging weather events on our planet. It is usual for tornadoes to have wind speeds of less than 180 km/h and travel only a few miles before they dissipate. However, larger tornadoes last longer (around half an hour), have wind speeds around 480 km/h, can move across the ground for dozens of miles with ability to rip buildings off their foundations. In this project we will learn what it takes to create a tornado, why are they hard to predict and we'll bust few myths about them.

Swapshop leader: Anna-Maria Križanac, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Forensic Medicine: Role of DNA

One of the biggest breakthroughs in forensics was the discovery of DNA fingerprinting in 1984 by sir Alec Jeffreys. DNA fingerprinting is a technique determining differences in short sequences of DNA base pairs. These differences are responsible for DNA being individual for every human. This allows DNA to be used in wide variety of areas. DNA fingerprinting is used every day in labs all over the world in solving paternity and immigration disputes and in criminal investigations. In this swapshop we will follow the steps of forensics working on criminal and paternity cases. We will see what is really behind all those CSI tv shows where with help of DNA they are able to find the culprit.

Swapshop leader: Marija Žuvela, University of Leicester, UK

Building your own plasma speaker

Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. – Confucius

Music is a thing that is omnipresent in our life, from the first heartbeats that we hear in our mother's womb to the church bells on our funeral. People have always tried to amplify sound and transfer it over long distances. One of the ways to do that was enabled with an invention of a loudspeaker in the 19th century. The goal of our project will be to build a plasma speaker that functions via electrical plasma instead of a diaphragm. And during that we will also learn how electrical plasma is created, how speakers function and much more…

Swapshop leader: Luka Matijević, University of Zagreb, Croatia

Birds as bioindicators of pollution

Ecotoxicology is a multidisciplinary field which integrates toxicology and ecology. Its focus is on biological organisms, especially their population, community, and aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. Toxins are chemical compounds that have negative effect on the living organisms. Some of these effects can be neutralized by homeostasis or ecological compensation. Others may be magnified. Integrity of an ecosystem or environment is determined with biological indicators. Birds are good bioindicators because they are observable, sensitive to toxicants, and occupy different positions in a food chain. Risk management of chemicals is important because despite their potential to cause harm to ecosystems, chemicals make many contributions to human welfare (e.g. medicine and agricultural production).

In this swapshop students will learn basic ecotoxicology terms, most common xenobiotics and their effect on birds, and the difference between pollution and contamination. We will simulate oil spills and their effect on birds.

Swapshop leader: Dora Bjedov, University of Josip Juraj Strossmayer, Osijek, Croatia

Study the anatomy of a real heart!

The study of anatomy goes back over 2,000 years, and still continues today. An understanding of anatomy is the key to the practice of health and medicine. In this swapshop you will be able to learn about cardiovascular anatomy theoretically and practically using a real heart. In the end we will apply this knowledge using stethoscopes and some basic diagnostic methods in the examination of the cardiovascular system.

Swapshop leader: Nikolina Vučenović, University of Split, Croatia

Energy sources and efficiency

From day to day we rely on energy to do everything, from everyday tasks such as ironing or surfing on the internet to driving cars and launching space rockets, but energy still remains an abstract concept with many unanswered questions. How much energy do we actually consume? How does it get transformed? How sustainable are our energy sources? In this workshop we investigate what energy really is and how to use it in different forms, with a special emphasis on energy sources and efficiency.

Swapshop leader: Lucija Malkoč, University of Zagreb, Croatia


Lecture schedule

August 9th, 2019
Ivica Puljak (University Split, Croatia): Discovery and measurement of the Higgs boson
Lecture video

August 10th, 2019
Michalis Charilaou (University of Louisiana at Lafayette, USA): The dark past and bright future of nano-magnetics
Lecture video

August 12th, 2019
Geraldine Fitzpatrick (TU Vienna, Austria): Designing eHealth technologies that work
Lecture video

August 13th, 2019
Dunja Vučenović (Imperial College London, UK): Embryonic development through the lens of genomics
Lecture video

August 13th, 2019
Leonardo Pierobon (ETH Zurich, Switzerland): Where nanoengineering meets magnetism
Lecture video

August 15th, 2019
Ivna Ivančić (University of Zagreb, Croatia): The art of assertiveness: how to say what you want without feeling guilty
Lecture video

About the lecturers

Ivica Puljak
University of Split, Croatia

Ivica Puljak is a Professor of Physics at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture at the University of Split. He obtained his PhD in the physics of elementary particles at the Pierre and Marie Curie University in Paris. Since 1994 he is a member of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) collaboration, which is responsible for the CMS detector in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in CERN. He was a group leader of more than 100 scientists from all over the world that discovered the Higgs boson through its decay into two Z bosons.

Michalis Charilaou
University of Louisiana at Lafayette, USA

Dr. Charilaou obtained his PhD at ETH Zurich, where he did interdisciplinary research in Magnetism, and is now Assistant Professor in Physics at University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His research encompasses a wide range of topics from permanent magnets for energy conversion to magnetotactic bacteria to the exotic world of nanomagnetism. Beyond his enthusiasm for magnetism, Dr. Charilaou is also a passionate musician. Read more about his research and listen to his music on his personal website.

Geraldine Fitzpatrick
TU Vienna, Austria

Prof. Geraldine Fitzpatrick leads the Institute for Technology Design and Assessment and the Human Computer Interaction group at Vienna University of Technology (TU Wien). Her research is at the intersection of social and computer sciences, using sensor-based technologies in everyday contexts.
At S3++, Prof. Fitzpatrick will talk about exciting possibilities that future IT systems could provide in healthcare, but also about the challenges in successfully implementing them.

Ivna Ivančić
University of Zagreb, Croatia

After finishing V. Gymnasium, high school specialised in science and mathematics in Zagreb, Ivna gained her undergraduate degree in Psychology in 2018. She is currently a graduate student at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb, and also a graduate student in Law at the University of Split. During her studies, she gained great experience in communicational and organisational skills through working with vulnerable groups at the National Call Centre for Victims of Crimes and Misdemeanour, holding ‘Mind the Mind’ workshops aimed at combating stigma of mental disorders and organising fundraising events for international charity organisation ‘Mary's Meals’, as well as by attending various student conferences and educations. Her main professional interests are industrial-organisational psychology and human resource management.