Exploring High-Density sEMG Decomposition: A PhD Student's Journey in Maribor

In September, our PhD student, Mehdi Shirzadi, embarked on an extended research visit to the University of Maribor. We conducted an interview with him to gain deeper insights into his overall experience during this significant journey.

How long was your stay in Maribor?

I spend September and October in Maribor.

What were the primary activities and goals of your stay in Maribor?

My primary objective during this stay is to learn about the state-of-the-art HD-sEMG decomposition. Following this, I plan to collaborate with Professor Holobar to decompose the HD-sEMG signals recorded from patients with spinal cord injuries and control subjects. Finally, I aim to analyze the results of the decomposition.

What did a typical day in Maribor look like for you?

Every weekday, I wake up around 8 am. After having breakfast at home, I head to the university. My residence was conveniently close to the university, requiring a 15-20 minute walk each day. I had the option of walking through the neighborhood or along the beautiful river Drava. Besides walking, I could choose to commute by bicycle or bus.

Throughout my stay, they kindly provided an office for me where I worked daily. After working until lunchtime, fellow lab members and I would head to a restaurant nearby. We aimed to explore different places each day, trying various cuisines. Despite the array of restaurants nearby, the university also had its own restaurant offering diverse food options, which we visited occasionally. During these lunches, we engaged in interesting and informative discussions on various topics.

After lunch, we returned to the university, where I usually worked until 8 pm. Following that, I went shopping and prepared dinner for myself. Sometimes, I watched movies or completed pending tasks before winding down to sleep.

Throughout the week, Professor Holobar organized different lectures and meetings to teach me theoretical and practical concepts about high-density surface electromyography (HD-sEMG). He was incredibly kind, patient, and answered all my questions. I am truly grateful to him.

What were your initial impressions of your colleagues' laboratories and facilities in Maribor?

When I arrived in Maribor, they came to the station, picked me up, and drove me to my residence. The people in the lab were really nice, kind, and welcoming. They had everything that was required for me and my research in the lab.

In what ways did the work experience in Maribor differ from that in Barcelona, particularly in terms of working hours, the balance between theoretical and practical work, and communication with colleagues?

I maintained a similar work routine, but I extended my hours because I wanted to make the most of my opportunity in Maribor. Additionally, I had my own separate office space apart from the others in the lab. I noticed their workdays typically started earlier, around 7 am to 8 am, and they left the university around 3 pm to 4 pm. My primary interaction with the lab members occurred during lunchtime. For the rest of the day, if I didn't have any meetings scheduled with Professor Holobar, I worked alone in the office.

How did you spend your leisure time in Maribor, and are there any specific Maribor experiences you would recommend?

Maribor, and Slovenia in general, boasts abundant nature and stunning landscapes. During the weekends, I dedicated my time to exploring Maribor city and its natural surroundings. The people in the lab were incredibly kind and friendly. Together, we engaged in various activities, such as going on bike and car trips to explore different cities in Slovenia, including visits to two famous waterfalls in the country.

Are there any experiences or things you would advise against in Maribor?

Compared to Barcelona or other big cities, Maribor doesn't offer an abundance of places to visit or spend time in the city. However, if you enjoy nature, everything it offers is quite satisfying, and you will have a great time there.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am profoundly thankful to all the people and organizations that made this stay possible for me. I gained extensive knowledge about HD-sEMG decomposition, and I intend to apply this newfound understanding in my future studies. I am especially grateful to the people in Maribor, particularly Professor Holobar, who generously dedicated their time to teach me various concepts. My time in Maribor was truly wonderful, and most of that experience was due to the kindness of the people in the lab.

Picture of Mehdi's visit in Maribor.