Cyprus in October

Can you imagine a better solution for the autumn blues than to find yourself on a Mediterranean beach full of sun? Right when Düsseldorf was being taken by dullness and apathy, I was given an amazing opportunity to escape from all the sadness and last week I visited Cyprus!

Before I landed, I thought that my knowledge about Cyprus was limited only to few, basic facts: such as Nicosia being the capital city, or that Cyprus is in fact the third largest Mediterranean island, or that since mid 70s last century it is divided into two parts, separating Greek Cypriots from Turkish one. I was surprised how in the course of my stay I refreshed my memory in history and mythology, finding how much do I actually know about this beautiful country. But something I really didn’t expect, was to be astonished by Cypriot cuisine. I even decided to devote a separate space below to praise its taste.

One of the most fascinating places I have explored during my stay was a salt lake right behind my hotel, that during the summer almost completely dries out. In winter it’s been said it’s a home for flamingos.



Cypriot delicacies

Thanks to my lovely Cypriot girlfriends and the owner of lively restaurant in the city centre of Larnaca I had discovered typical island delicacies and learned a bit of Greek. I was even said to have a Cypriot accent!

As my favourite dishes I would classify κολοκούθκια με τα αυκά, which is a simple dish containing fried zuccini and eggs; and famous halloumi cheese that was served as an appetiser. But what I was completely bought with was the taste of Cypriot deserts!


Lay summary of my PhD Project

How algae acclimate to changing light conditions

In the process of photosynthesis, organisms are able to absorb Sun light and in a series of reactions convert it into sugars. Those highly energetic molecules are then stored in different forms in photosynthetic organisms such as plants or green algae, and can be used for various purposes, for instance as a source of energy in the form of biofuels.

The way photosynthetic organisms are tuned to capture solar energy amazes researchers. If we could understand better the processes that are involved in capturing and transferring light energy, we could use this knowledge to improve how fast the green algae will grow and how many energetic molecules they will produce. And ultimately, we could improve industrial exploitation of microalgae.

We know that the availability and quality of light influence the photosynthetic efficiency, therefore my task in the project is to help to understand the level of such influences. I am focusing on how mechanisms developed by algae in order to deal with such changes affect the photosynthetic reaction. When algae are lacking light they try to absorb as much light as possible, on the other hand when light is too strong, they ‘waste’ energy to protect themselves against damage.

Based on our current understanding of the photosynthetic reactions I am developing theoretical models of the process that starts with the absorption of light and ends up with the synthesis of ATP: the trading molecule that is necessary for the production of sugars. I am using experimental data to calibrate my model and validate it and any discrepancies between my predictions and observations are considered as a gap in our theoretical understanding and a space for improvement. I hope to contribute to selecting the optimal light conditions for algae growth and to help to understand to what extent we can stimulate the energy transfer by using different light spectra and intensities.