A young researcher in the spotlight: PAULA ANGELOME

How did you start working on sol-gel?

I started working in topics closely related with sol gel chemistry when I was a chemistry student, in 1999. At that moment, I was part of a project that involved the synthesis of layered double hydroxides and its use as adsorbents. In 2002, I got involved in the project that was finally my PhD work: synthesis of mesoporous thin films. It was at that moment that I started to understand the possibilities of the sol gel procedure to obtain materials in soft conditions. After that, I could not abandon sol-gel chemistry as a key tool to develop all the materials I have worked with during my career.

What is the most exciting part of your job and what would you like to change?

The most exciting part of my job is to carefully plan and perform experiments along with my coworkers, and the results’ discussion that comes later. I particularly enjoy the synchrotron campaigns, that allow me to be focused in characterizing materials properties in a short amount of time.
I would like to dedicate less amount of time to bureaucracy, but I guess it is difficult to avoid it.

What do you like in the sol-gel community?

What I like the most about this community is the variety of formation of the people that works on it. Chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers work together in sol-gel science, ensuring a wide development of the field and also super rich discussions in the meetings.

What are your goals, for your research activities and your career?

Regarding my research activities, I would like to help to improve the knowledge about the relations between synthesis conditions, final materials’ properties and their applications for the case of composite materials containing oxides and metals. Also, I would like to develop new exciting applications for these kinds of materials. These goals are closely related with another one: to continue participating in the formation of new generations of critic scientists. In a more general way, I would like to help growing the sol gel community in Argentina, for example by continuing my participation as instructor in a postgraduate school about the subject, which takes place every two years in Buenos Aires since 2003. Finally, I plan to continue my effort to increase the visibility of women in science: we are many and we deserve to be treated equally.

Do you have any advice for students who approach sol-gel chemistry for the first time?

Materials synthesis in general and sol-gel chemistry in particular can be tricky sometimes. So my advice would be to be very careful in the experiments planning and also very patient, in order to avoid frustration when the results are not the expected ones.