As we all are embedded in the midst of the new-normality and with the constant alert that the year 2020 brought to our daily lives, it is also good to step back trying to gain some perspective on what we have done together and plan for this 2021

For NOCI PhD students and postdocs, 2020 (still old-normality) started with one of our regular retreats where we gathered to put in common our scientific advances and blend our biological and engineering backgrounds. We didn’t know then, but that was not 2020 at its most yet. Time passed very fast, or very slowly, and in summer the 2020 EUROoOCs congress took place online, something that we could not imagine possible several months before. Despite this, NOCI members participated with several oral presentations and poster defences, making it a very fruitful event. End of summer brought a new version of our retreats with a mixed virtual-presential event, a success thanks to the organizers.

As we all got used with this kind of setups, some of the events of the year came to happen. First, our colleague Berend van Meer successfully defended the first NOCI thesis. Even though, most of the NOCI team could not be present there, the ceremony livestream and the posterior online-meeting-platform-mediated gathering made it a very remarkable day. As remarkable as the fact that Berend won the 2020 Hugo van Poelgeestprijs for his work framed into the NOCI initiative. Secondly, the a priori paradoxical virtual-technical meeting took place. This was only possible by the excellent work of our colleagues from TUDelft. They demonstrated that learning virtually how to produce wafers, used in the fabrication of chips, can be easy. Big thanks to all the work that the organizing team from Delft put into making this event a success. Not to forget the borrel box we all got and enjoyed at the end of the event…

2021 doesn’t seem to be an easier year. But from NOCI we are decided to make the most out of it. We are already planning the next events, with online retreats and more technical meetings to happen. This time we will learn how to work with intestinal organoid cultures. And this is only the first part, more yet to come.

Cayetano Pleguezuelos Manzano – NOCI PhD-student Hubrecht Institute