Clara Inés Alcolado Olivares

Influence of peroxynitrite on the degradation of organic compounds in food, aerosols and pharmaceuticals
University of Castilla-La Mancha
Hi! Tell us a bit about yourself – what stage of your PhD are you in and what’s your project about?

My name is Clara Inés, I am 22 years old, it is my first year of PhD. I am doing my doctoral thesis in the department of physical chemistry within the FOTOAIR research group. My start in research began when I was 18 years old and Professor Francisco Javier Poblete, invited me to his laboratory, he awakened my curiosity for the marvellous branch of chemical kinetics in solution. Since then, I have been doing research with him and he is my thesis director. My thesis is about the reactivity of peroxynitrite with organic compounds such as commonly used drugs, food preservatives, or components of atmospheric aerosols. The possible toxicity of the reagents used in these reactions would be reduced thanks to supramolecular chemistry, i.e. these products will be reversibly encapsulated in order to control their reactivity. Therefore, knowledge of peroxynitrite chemistry is crucial to determine the impact of its reactivity from the gaseous to the biological environment, on air quality and on our health. This knowledge includes kinetic and mechanistic studies of these reactions and identification of their reaction products. I use a Stopped Flow system, which allows me to measure absorbance and/or fluorescence of organic molecules, in order to analyze the variation of their concentration with respect to time, and this system is able to measure on a time scale of milliseconds.

Clara Inés Alcolado Olivares

What did a typical day or week look like for you?

A day in my life would be the following: breakfast to start the day, a delicious tea with some other companion, while I eagerly look at the latest news about science in the different social networks. Afterwards, I get ready to take the things I need for my day and I always go out with my headphones on so I can listen to music on the way to the faculty of chemical sciences and technologies. I enter the lab and the first thing I do is turn on the Stopped-Flow and start synthesizing peroxynitrite, meanwhile I always like to read different research articles about my topic, and I prepare all the calculations to be able to get the reaction rates. During the day I always have a meeting with my thesis supervisor to present my results. At the end of the day I eat, and I go to the master’s degree in education that I am doing now, and when I finish my classes, I go home or meet a friend. After dinner I always like to look at all the results I have obtained in the lab to see if everything is going well and to be able to go to sleep feeling fulfilled and seeing that my day was worth it.

What’s one thing that you enjoyed the most during your PhD?
What I am enjoying the most about my doctorate is constantly discovering super interesting new things, which you never expect, that could change the vision of peroxynitrite reactivity. And above all the illusion that I have to write my book on the thesis. At the same time, I really enjoy going to conferences and being able to explain, resolve doubts, curiosities or concerns of people. It seems to me one of the most rewarding moments for a researcher, to see how people are interested in your field of research.

Clara Inés Alcolado Olivares

What’s been the most challenging part of it?

I would say that I don’t have any challenges right now, since any difficulty that comes up I can solve so far without any experimental problem. Although it is true, that there are times when matching the reaction mechanism with the results is quite complicated, but at the same time it is the most exciting and satisfying part when you manage to solve it.

Where do you see yourself 5 years after having now completed your PhD?

In 5 years I imagine that I will be doing research either abroad or here in Spain. The truth is that what I would like most is to be a relevant scientist, to be able to discover something new that is useful for the world, or even to be able to become a professor at my university. But above all, how I see myself is researching, because that is what I am most passionate about.

What’s one piece of advice that you’d offer students that are thinking of doing a PhD?

First of all, they should be workers, constant, have patience and be very curious, to be able to reach all its objectives in the investigation.

What makes your university a good place to study?

The good equipment that the university has for its students, so that they do not have any type of limits for their research. And the fellowship and pleasant atmosphere that is breathed with the people of the university, since both students and professors try to help each other in any way.

Lastly, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

In my free time, I really like to dance, I dance since I was 3 years old, both ballet and rhythmic gymnastics. Spending time with my family doing whatever. I love reading, listening to music at all times, meeting up to go for a walk with my friends or my partner.

Thanks Clara! How can our readers learn more about you and get in touch?

My Twitter is: @ClaraIAlcolado
My Instagram is: @ClaraIAlcolado
My LinkedIn is: Clara Inés Alcolado Olivares

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