Hey everyone! My name is Alba Monferrer, and I am one of the Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) of the DNA-Robotics Innovative Training Network (ITN).
Since this is my first blog post, I will talk about my background and how I ended up joining this amazing consortium.
I come from Catalonia (Spain), where I was born and raised. My family lives in a town near Girona, an extremely gorgeous city really worth visiting. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you must have seen Girona’s cathedral and some parts of the “old neighborhood” that appeared in the show. Going back to business… I lived in Catalonia for nearly my entire life, where I forged unbreakable friendships and acquired the values that characterize me nowadays. I like to spend my free time outdoors doing all kind of sports: biking, hiking, climbing, snorkeling, skiing… but I also very much enjoy a good book by a fireplace, or a movie under a blanket. Above all of my hobbies, stands THE hobby: travelling. I love visiting and discovering new places, new cultures, new languages, new everything. Maybe this was the reason why I decided to wander around the world the past few years, but before going into much detail, let’s go back to the origins of everything.
Me and the castle of my hometown on a rainy day
Girona was the beginning and key of everything. I have always taken my education very seriously, and my undergraduate studies and my first Masters at the University of Girona were not an exception. The Bachelors in Chemistry was not easy, but when you work on something you love, it is far from being a torment. I am totally passionate about Chemistry, to me it is very logical and once you understand it, there is nothing left but to enjoy it. After the four years as an undergraduate student, I enrolled myself to the Masters in Advanced Catalysis and Molecular Modelling (MACMoM) conducted at the same university in Girona. During my Bachelors and Masters, I was part of the QBIS-CAT research group of IQCC (Institut de Quimica Computacional i Catalisi). My project in the group was to self-assemble a new supramolecular nanocapsule for fullerene encapsulation and functionalization, which helped me develop organic and inorganic synthetic skills.
After graduation in Girona, I moved to San Diego to start another Masters in Chemistry at the University of California San Diego (UCSD). During my stay at UCSD I joined the Hermann Lab, where I successfully designed a robust kit of nanoshapes self-assembling from RNA and DNA modules. I also involved myself in departmental duties such as teaching students in Chemistry labs and becoming the MS student representative of the Chemistry Graduate Student Council.
Me on my graduation at UC San Diego
It was two full years I spent in California, with an awesome weather and plenty destinations to travel to, and secret spots do discover. The most amazing trip I took from there was, without a doubt, Hawaii. I absolutely love nature, and over there, nature just overflows everything. In just one island, you can find forests with uncountable waterfalls, deserts, jungles, crystalline water beaches, active volcanos, and even snow! Please take me back there…
Me above the clouds – Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Right after San Diego’s adventure, I found myself involved in the next: Munich (Germany). Munich is where I am currently living, another astonishing city. I am part of the Dietz Lab at the Technical University of Munich as a PhD student. It was a difficult decision to make, especially because of other PhD opportunities I had on the table. At the end, I am very happy and convinced of my final decision to come to Munich, and not only because of the beer! 😉
All in all, I am very motivated to work on the DNA-Robotics program, and very excited to contribute to the consortium and see how we can combine all the knowledge gained at an individual level to create something even greater. In my next post, I will tell you more about my research projects!