Category Archives: Tatiana Cocerva

AESH 2018 – Let’s make REMEDIATE a winner again!

A new challenge? Visiting a new continent? A research conference? Networking?
AN AWARD?! YES! All these are for me!

These were the main questions and desires in my mind when I decided to attend the 28th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air that took place on March 19-22, 2018 in San Diego, California. This great experience brought me an award: “1st Place for the Best Student Poster Presentation” and a check of $1000!

Towards the west…
Embarking on the longest flight I’ve ever flown with a valid USA visa in my passport and full of excitement, I started my great journey towards San Diego! When I left London, it was cold and snowing, but once arrived in San Diego, I realised that I was the only person at the airport wearing a winter coat! Yeah, that was funny, but it was so great to feel the outside temperature of 20⁰C and a warm wind blowing through my hair, a feeling that I have not had since my last summer holiday.

Pre-conference course
I had registered to attend a workshop the day before the conference on the Bioavailability of Contaminants in Soil. As my PhD research is directly related to this topic, I was curious to learn how bioavailability is applied in the USA compared to the United Kingdom (UK). The audience comprised environmental professionals working in academia, environmental protection agencies and consultancy. The workshop was very interesting and interactive; the audience was engaged in solving different problems and answering the questions posed by the presenters. It represented a great opportunity for me to share ideas and even my experience working with the European BARGE Unified Bioaccessibility Method (UBM) (

ITRC workshop. The UBM is cited among available bioaccessibility methods

The 28th Annual International Conference on Soil, Water, Energy, and Air
This international conference is organised each year by the AEHS Foundation on the West Coast of the USA. Its main purpose is to gather together the environmental science community to share ideas, outcomes, and recommendations between experts working in research, industry, advanced technologies, and environmental regulatory programs.
For three days, I attended interesting presentations on different case studies dealing with environmental forensics, pollution, and cutting-edge technology applied to remediate contaminated sites. Outside the conference rooms, there were exhibitions on applied technology for diverse environmental issues.

A part of the exhibition hall at the conference

I had registered to present my research work in the poster session on Human Health Risk Assessment and I chose the option to be included in the student competition where generous awards were offered: $1000 for 1st place, and $500 for the 2nd place. Now all the challenges were set, so let’s bring my research work to the top!

During the poster session, I was so pleased with the number of people coming to my poster asking different questions. The audience was diverse, from PhD students to professors, researchers, and professionals working in industry. Moreover, there was a Scientific Advisory Board formed of 15 judges from different disciplines and wide expertise dealing with environmental issues who assessed all the posters. The evaluation factors developed by the committee included the following: Topic Selection/Innovation, Research and Analysis Techniques Utilised, Poster Organization and Structure, Quality of Presentation, Materials and Communication of Poster Content.
As usual, I shared my research results, experiences working in REMEDIATE project, and my great passion for my work with everyone.

Awards Ceremony!
I was already so pleased for the amazing experience I had at this conference, networking opportunities, feedback received on my work and the wonderful San Diego city, so I could say that my “mission was complete”!

But when the winners were announced and I heard that Tatiana Cocerva from Queen’s University Belfast was the WINNER of the 1st place award, I could say that this represented an unforgettable moment in my life!

Left: Holding the 1st Place award and the $1000 check sponsored by ARCADIS
Top Right: With Paul Kostecki (conference organiser and executive director of the AEHS Foundation)
Bottom Right: With Rick Ahlers (ARCADIS) and Paul Kostecki

I would like to express my sincere thanks to the organisers of the conference, the AEHS Foundation and the Scientific Advisory Board for appreciating my research work. My deepest gratitude goes as well to my supervisors and collaborative partners who contributed over the years to undertake excellent research work that has been endorsed all over the world!

I look forward to attending the next Annual Conference on Soils, Sediments, Water and Energy organised  in Amherst Massachusetts on October 15-18, 2018. Overall, I had a wonderful time on the West Coast of the USA, and all I can say is
I WILL BE BACK very soon!

Top left: Tatiana with student Andrea C. Guhl from the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology, Germany

MedGeo’17 Conference in Moscow

Remediate excellence endorsed at the MedGeo’17 Conference in Moscow
This year I had the great opportunity to attend the 7th International Conference on Medical Figure 1Geology, held in Moscow, Russia, where I won an award. During this time, I realised one golden rule: science is felt and understood in the same way all over the world and it doesn’t have any geographical or political borders.

What a great lesson learned!

Before embarking on my journey to Moscow, I received the news that I had been awarded a student travel grant from the International Medical Geological Association (IMGA) and I’m very grateful for this award. The travel checklist was complete: good research results; documents ready; my Russian skills turned ON; and as an extra bonus my first name which originates from Russia!

Pre-conference course
People interested in learning more about Medical Geology were able to attend pre-conference courses given by experts and leading practitioners in this field. This workshop was very inspiring: my scientific horizons were expanded, and I realised that I can do many things with my research data.

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Four days of interesting talks and original postersFigure 3
There was a diverse conference program, including topics from large research areas such as Geology, Chemistry, Microbiology, Toxicology, and Policymaking. This event gathered scientists, experts, and students from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America, who shared innovative ideas, experiences, and offered constructive feedback.

My presentation was scheduled for the 3rd day of the conference, so I had plenty of time to meet and talk to people, to attend different presentations, and to see what other scientists are doing in my research area of human health risk assessment of contaminated land.
The day before my presentation, I was honoured to be asked if I could chair a session “Urban Medical Geology: Integrating Geologic and Anthropogenic Processes”, a challenge which I accepted with great pleasure. I really enjoyed this experience, and it made me determined to develop these skills for my professional career.

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My presentation was also included in this session, and switching from chair of the session to presenter was easy. After my presentation, the audience asked some very good questions and the feedback was positive and constructive.

Social program and networking
The gala dinner was organised on a cruise on the river Moscow. Once we stepped on board the beautiful boat Chizhik-2, we enjoyed magnificent views of the Russian capital. Inside the restaurant there was a lovely atmosphere with good music in the background and delicious food. The emotional toasts made by the organisers of the conference and founders of IMGA turned this evening into a great one.

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Closing Ceremony and Awards
After a week of great talks, inspiring research and interesting posters, the closing ceremony summarised the achievements of the conference, acknowledged the attendance and work of every participant, and presented awards for the best presentations. I was already very pleased by the good experience I had in Moscow, the nice people I met and new friends I had made, but hearing my research work classified as the «Best Oral Presentation Award» represented an unforgettable moment in my life.

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I am honoured and grateful for the recognition I received for my work and I would like to express my gratitude to our research team for helping me reach this high level. Special thanks go to Dr Mark Cave (British Geological Survey) for his assistance in setting up the Unified BARGE Method and to Dr Rebekka McIlwaine for providing the urban geochemistry data set for Belfast.

Overall, The MedGeo’17 Conference was a big success and I would like to thank to the organisers for their hard work invested to offer us, in turn, a memorable experience.

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I look forward to attending the next MedGeo Conference, which will be held in Guiyang, China, August 12-15, 2019.

Science Uncovered 2017

The ESRs based at QUB recently attended a public engagement event. Here’s Panos with his thoughts:

Science Uncovered, which has been held in over 300 European cities for many years, took place on Friday September 29th with great success. The venue where European Researchers’ Night 2017 took place – Ulster Museum – was flooded with people; it attracted young and old alike. The audience, with particular love, embraced this multidisciplinary scientific event and listened to a variety of scientific talks, met young researchers, and participated dynamically in this fascinating tour of the world of science, research and technology.


It turns out that science keeps not only the interest of the public but also of the scientists/researchers themselves. The REMEDIATE team was there with Panagiotis, Tatiana, and Ricardo to welcome the public and speak about “Monitoring & clean up of contaminants using natural microbial batteries”, “Bioaccessibility of heavy metals in urban areas” and “Gene sequencing of contaminated groundwater (Do bugs catch colds?)”. We were asked a number of great questions, and enjoyed talking to everyone who came to our stand, as well as meeting other researchers who were at the event.

stand photo

To learn more about Science Uncovered and the participating research groups, visit the Ulster Museum website

science uncovered

AquaConSoil 2017

Tatiana Cocerva and a number of the other Remediate ESRs went to ACS2017 this summer. Enjoy her great summary of the events they all enjoyed!

Working hard setting up experiments, getting the expected results, and publishing your work in great journals are all key goals for a researcher; communicating your research at a conference is also a professionally valuable experience.
This year, REMEDIATE participants had the opportunity to attend the AquaConSoil Conference that took place in Lyon, France on the 26th-30th June 2017. This event brought together students, scientists, industry professionals, and policy makers from all over the world. Presentations covered the areas of sustainable use and management of soil, sediment, and water resources.


Sabrina, Tatiana, Stacie, Panagiotis, Yi, Morteza, Diogo, and Neha (REMEDIATE Early Stage Researchers) presented their research to a wide audience in a special session “Improved decision making for contaminated land site investigation and risk assessment”, chaired by Professor Frederic Coulon (supervisor at Cranfield University). It was a very interesting session, after which we received valuable feedback and appreciation of our work. Ricardo, Coren, and Peter chose to disseminate their work in a poster session, where they actively engaged with other conference attendees, and exchanged ideas with many of them.


 Being a researcher should be challenging and fun
Social events and informal meetings are the best way to create new collaborations and build new friendships. What can be more rewarding than having dinner with your colleagues after a full day of listening to interesting presentations and meeting nice people? The REMEDIATE team added researchers and new friends from Italy, Germany, Netherlands, and Chile to its network.

dinner 1

The conference dinner was organised in a friendly atmosphere where REMEDIATE supervisors and researchers socialised with different conference attendees in a relaxed, informal environment. Tatiana engaged in interesting discussions with the team from BRGM (French geological survey), and found that they shared a similar network and friends in France. What a happy coincidence! After dinner, a DJ boosted everyone’s energy and we all remembered that professional people can combine research and fun.

Tatiana Cocerva with a part of the BRGM team; Photo by BRGM

We are very grateful to all the organisers for this amazing, memorable conference. This was a great experience for all of us and we were inspired, challenged, and more motivated in our work. We look forward to attending the next conference with the same positive mood!



Meet the Researchers – Tatiana Cocerva

 An enduring feature of MCSA Training Networks is the range of talented researchers working on the various projects. We have invited the Early Stage Researchers in Remediate to tell us more about themselves. Tatiana Cocerva is placed here at Queen’s University Belfast:

200TatianaRemediate meeting November 2015 042

Born in the countryside in Moldova, I spent a happy childhood, discovering and exploring the wonders of nature. Being very curious and willing to find an explanation of everything surrounding me, I chose to do a Bachelor of Science at University of Bucharest in Romania. After graduation, I decided to accomplish my biggest dream in doing my master studies in France being accepted at University Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée (UPEM). After my graduation, I worked for 5 months in the laboratory of environmental chemistry at UPEM, a time when I discovered my passion for research. The results of this experience have been published in Journal of Hazardous Materials.

Currently, I’m an Early Stage Researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, one of the most famous universities in the UK and worldwide recognition for its research intensity. Belfast is a nice and quiet city with many sightseeing such the Titanic Shipyards, Ulster Museum with a lovely botanical garden on its right side, Stormont Parliament Buildings and the fans of Game of Thrones have the opportunity to visit the studio and locations where the movie was shot. Don’t worry if you get lost, the local people are very friendly and willing to help and guide you at any time.

This peaceful city contributes to my good mood and is a perfect place to undertake research keeping your mind calm and clear. So, I enjoy every day my role in the REMEDIATE Project where I have to assess the oral bioaccessibility of contaminants in urban environments and investigate how the results are affected by sampling technique and contaminant source.

In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, I love scuba diving, especially in the Red Sea and I have always at home a suitcase ready for travels. Being passionate about foreign languages, now I’m learning German which will be the 5th language spoken, but not the last one.