Alba Helena Pérez Jimeno, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren (ICIQ), has defended her PhD thesis entitled “Studies on Gold(I) Complexes: from Chiral Catalysts to Elusive Intermediates” (assigned to the Organic and Analytical Chemistry Department of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on March 10th.
The members of the evaluation committee were Prof. Pedro J. Pérez (Universidad de Huelva, Spain), Prof. Maria Besora (URV, Spain) and Prof. Paz Muñoz (Lancaster University, UK).
Dr. Pérez is from Armellada, a small village in the region of León, Spain and she studied Chemistry in the University of Salamanca. In her free time she enjoys doing some sport, specially swimming. Her other major hobby is reading: “there is nothing better than a warm afternoon reading a book on the beach” she says.
Her PhD was funded by the FPU Fellowship of the Ministerio de Universidades.
Why did you become a scientist?
Because I had a very inspiring Chemistry teacher in the high school.
What do you want to achieve as a scientist?
Just to understand a bit better the world in which we live.
What is your thesis about?
My thesis is about the study of gold(I) enantioselective catalysts and the analysis of reactive intermediates in gold(I) catalyzed transformations.
What triggered your interest for the subject of your thesis?
The curiosity on how a reaction works.
What applications can your thesis have in the future?
They can be used to get insights about other reaction mechanisms.
The thing that I like most about my thesis is…
To be able to fully understand how a reaction takes place, analyzing each one of the intermediates and the factors that influence the reaction outcome.
From the lessons learnt (or skills developed) at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
You can not control everything, so it is better to be flexible and to adapt to circumstances than to fight against nature.
What ICIQ moment you´ll never forget?
The first time I booked the 500 spectrometer to analyze my reaction at low temperature.
What will you miss the most from ICIQ?
The good atmosphere between the people from the lab.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
Organize yourself properly and do not get frustrated if things do not work when you first start.
Have you ever been emotional over an experiment/simulation? Why?
Yes, each time I had an NMR day booked, looking for my elusive intermediates!
Who/What has been your biggest influence/motivation?
My biggest influence was Dr.Cristina García-Morales, an alumni of the ICIQ, an example of perseverance and passion for the world of organometallic chemistry.
Chemistry/Science is fun because…
Each chemistry problem can be seen as a puzzle which needs to be solved.
What is your favourite molecule?
A gold(I) vinylidene, of course!
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
I would be an NMR instrument because it can give you a great amount of information about the structure of a molecule and about the mechanism of a reaction.