Giuseppe Zuccarello, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Antonio Echavarren (ICIQ), has virtually defended his PhD thesis entitled “Chiral Pyrrolidinyl-Biphenyl Phosphine Ligands in Gold(I) Catalysis” (assigned to the Department of Physical and Inorganic Chemistry of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on June 22nd.
The members of the examining committee were: Prof. Erick M. Carreira (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich), Dr. Elena Fernández Gutierrez (URV) and Prof. Rosario Fernández Fernández (Universidad de Sevilla).
Dr. Zuccarello is from Basel, Switzerland. He studied Chemistry at the University of Basel and completed his Master’s studies in Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ). After a one-year internship at Syngenta AG in Stein (Switzerland) he joined the research group of Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren at ICIQ. In his spare time, he likes to watch football and to travel.
Why did you become a scientist?
At high school subjects like History and German were boring for me. I enjoyed the scientific ones so, I decided to be a scientist. Pursuing a PhD has shown me how much there is to be discovered yet. My former supervisor once told me “if there is no reaction to make a particular chemical bond, it’s time to invent it!”
From the lessons learnt at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
I’ve learnt that there are different working environments and you need to be able to adapt so you can grow personally and professionally.
What ICIQ moment you’ll never forget? What will you miss the most from ICIQ?
During my PhD, I worked on ligand design for enantioselective gold(I) catalysis. When, after a year and a half trying, I finally synthesized the target ligand for the first time I dropped it to the floor by accident. I felt so bad! But two of my coworkers felt sorry for me and helped me extract it from the floor. Eventually, I tried the ligand in catalytic conditions, and it worked.
What I will miss from Tarragona is being able to see the moon so often. This is not that common when you live in Switzerland.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
My advice would be to make sure you are surrounded by good people who are focused and want to improve.
Where are you going next?
After my defence, I will stay in the Echavarren group as a postdoc.
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
A graduated cylinder. Super useful to make solvent mixtures for columns.