Chiara Mirabella, PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Pau Ballester (ICIQ), has defended her PhD thesis entitled “Dynamic Covalent Capsules based on Calixpyrrole Scaffolds” (assigned to the Organic and Analytical Chemistry Department of the Universitat Rovira i Virgili) publicly on September 13th.
The members of the evaluation committee were: Prof. Dr. Christopher A. Hunter (university of Cambridge), Dr. Kaisa Helttunen (University of Jyväskylä, Finland) and Prof. Dr. Rosa M. Gomila Ribas (Universitat de les Illes Balears)
Dr. Mirabella is from Catania, Italy. She obtained both her bachelor’s in Chemistry and masters in organic chemistry from the University of Catania. After her master’s, she did an Erasmus in Barcelona, and in 2018 she started her PhD in the Ballester group at ICIQ. Outside the lab, she enjoys practising sports especially martial arts– although during her PhD she hasn’t had much time to do so – and listening to live music. During her time in Catalonia, she has always felt at home and enjoyed the liveliness of its streets.
What is your thesis about?
My thesis is focused on the assembly of capsules, starting from Calixpyrroles, to create supramolecular receptors that can interact with anions or polar molecules. This allows us to study the recognition properties of these receptors and to better understand processes that happen in nature which are “parallel” to the ones we carry out in the lab.
What triggered your interest in this topic?
In a way, it’s the natural continuation of my master’s thesis, I am very passionate about this field because I had a great teacher during my master’s. I like supramolecular chemistry because it’s new and constantly evolving.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting now their PhD?
Always ask for help: don’t be ashamed if you have questions and doubts, they are part of the process and will help you to learn and grow. Also, work hard but find a balance between it and free time. This might be the best time of your life, so learn to find a balance, time never comes back!
What is the most important skill you learnt during your PhD?
Resilience! Doing a PhD is great, but very tough at the same time. So, it’s important to know how to approach an obstacle and overcome it, and to always believe in your own abilities.
What or who has been your biggest influence during your PhD?
I started my PhD because, during my master’s, Prof. Sebastiano Pappalardo was able to transmit his love for supramolecular chemistry to his students. But to finish the PhD my friends were my biggest motivation, there are many times you think about giving up and they were there to help me.
Citronellal, it’s a great insect repellent, and has a wonderful smell!
Chemistry is fun… because it’s always a surprise
If you were a piece of lab equipment…
I’d be a reaction flask because there’s where the magic starts!
For now, I’m looking for a job, I’d like to work in a company’s R&D team, hopefully here in Catalonia.