Eduardo Garcia, a PhD student who is under Prof. Antonio M. Echavarren’s & Prof. Feliu Maseras’ supervision, has successfully defended his PhD thesis entitled “Computationally Guided Exploration into Gold(I)-Catalysed Transformations” publicly on November 17th.
The members of the evaluation committee were Prof. José Manuel González, (Universidad de Oviedo), Prof. Elena Fernández (Universitat Rovira i Virgili) and Prof. David Balcells (University of Oslo, Norway).
Dr. Garcia was born in Elx in 1997 and he went over to the UK to study Chemistry at the University of York (2015-2019). Eduardo have always been very passionate about music. He also loves hiking in the mountains and have been known to spend hours on end reading about linguistics and geography.
Why did you become a scientist?
The idea of understanding the world through observation and experiment is a truly exceptional one. Finding not just hidden patterns in how nature works, but ultimately the reasons behind them, was an enticing thought that always drew me to science: why chemical reactions happen and why molecules exist at all!
What is your thesis about?
A combined experimental and computational study on how gold(I)-catalysed reactions work, how we can optimise new reactions with these techniques and design new bimetallic catalysts.
What applications can your thesis have in the future?
While indirectly –and in a rather speculative way–, understanding the full mechanisms of different chemical reactions will allow the rational improvement or discovery of new ways of synthesising molecules from pharmaceutically active compounds to novel catalysts.
The thing that I like most about my thesis is….
How seemingly simple chemical reactions can hide immense complexity in their mechanisms.
From the lessons learnt (or skills developed) at ICIQ, which one do you value the most?
Being resilient and developing a critical understanding of the results in a project.
What ICIQ moment you´ll never forget?
The boardgame evenings and constant planning of activities shortly after the pandemic lockdowns with people from ICIQ. Talk about team building!
What will you miss the most from ICIQ?
Undoubtedly, the people. In particular, the great friends I made along the way.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD?
Things often do not work out, but sometimes one can look for other paths that approach the same question.
What advice do you have for someone who’s starting their PhD now?
A PhD is mainly what you make of it – learn as much as you can, be curious, and do not worry too much about factors that cannot be controlled. You are doing better than you imagine.
Who has been your biggest influence?
My labmates at ICIQ who have inspired me and helped me out in many different ways.
Chemistry is fun because…
in order to understand what is going on, you can only study things indirectly. That just adds to the joy when one manages to predict or explains the outcome of a new reaction, with trillions upon trillions of molecules interacting in a complex mixture.
What is your favourite molecule?
Dioxygen: it has a very unique electronic structure and most living beings –including humans– have developed exquisitely complex biochemistry around it.
If you were a piece of lab equipment, what would you be?
I would be a laboratory clamp, because they hold everything in place while the chemistry happens. From Schlenk lines and cannula filtrations to columns and separating funnels, almost every setup involves the use of the humble clamp.
Tell us something about you that people might not know…
I was part of the Spanish team in the International Linguistics Olympiads in 2014 and 2015.