Marta Conde, Sergio Gómez, Cristina Delgado and Santiago Pozo are about to start a new professional stage as distinguished researchers at the University of Vigo, to continue developing their projects in the fields of physical chemistry, physiology, ecology and animal biology and the conservation of immovable cultural heritage, respectively. They are the selected in the UVigo 2020 Research Talent Retention Program, which aim is hired people with an outstanding career who had developed their postdoctoral activity at the University of Vigo. The contract as temporary staff are full-time, in the modality of distinguished researcher, will last for three years, extendable for other two.
Marta Conde is one of the four people selected, until now postdoctoral staff of the Xunta de Galicia in modality B in the Department of Functional Biology and Health Sciences, specifically in the Physiology Area. The researcher, from the Fish Physiology Research Group of the Marine Research Center (CIM), explains that this is an opportunity to continue working and improving the CV to be eligible for stabilization programs or contracts at the University. “It also allows me to continue with my own line of research that I started two years ago and continue directing the two doctoral theses that are underway at the moment,” she adds.
Conde studied Marine Sciences in Vigo and, after working in a private company, she returned with an FPI scholarship to carry out his doctorate thesis under the direction of José Luis Soengas and Jesús Míguez and later continue with the post-doctoral stage. Her research activity is focused on the study of neuroendocrine and metabolic systems that control appetite in fish species of interest in aquaculture. Recently, she started her own line of research based on the study of the hedonic regulation of appetite in fish, and specifically the involvement of the cannabinoid and opioid systems in this regulation. With her sights set on the next three years as a distinguished researcher, she proposes “to continue developing and deepening in this line, codirecting the theses that are underway and I also intend to direct new TFG / TFM. In the coming years I also hope to be able to get my own funding for a new project as principal research and, at the same time, I will continue with the teaching work and will try to obtain the accreditation of Full Professor, which would give me the possibility of continuing to be hired two years”.
Sergio Gómez has been at the University of Vigo for more than ten years, in the last stage as a Juan De La Cierva researcher in the Department of Physical Chemistry, focusing his work on the synthesis, characterization and self-assembly of plasmonic nanoparticles (gold and silver). He explains that this UVigo program “supposes that my research and teaching career does not stop. Right now, I have 3 + 2 years to get funding in both national and international plans, thus demonstrating that UVigo graduates are competitive at all levels”.
Gómez studied at UVigo and continued at the Vigo institution to do his doctoral thesis. “When I finished, I had to emigrate like many others, and after five years I got state aid to go back to my university.” While he was abroad, he had the possibility of making “a sensor based on gold nanoparticles, and when I returned, we continued working on it.” Now “we are developing new synthesis of nanoparticles that give them new properties, and the idea is to use them for the early detection of biomolecules, as catalysts for reactions of interest to society and, last but not least, for the treatment of cancer by hyperthermia ”.
Respecting future stabilization opportunities, he acknowledges the outlook is very complicated. “Since I started my research career I thought little by little: first the thesis, then the first postdoc, the second, the third … and now, even though I am already an age, I have to continue the same, thinking that I am three years more to show the University my worth ”. On the other hand, it also emphasizes that the current pandemic situation does not help, since “for the sake of covid-19 the state budgets destined for universities may vary, this may affect the next places of the replacement rate that offer the University”.
Cristina Delgado, also postdoctoral staff of the Xunta de Galicia in modality B in the Department of Ecology and Animal Biology, will also become a distinguished researcher to continue working on ecology and taxonomy of diatoms, both in marine ecosystems and in water. . As she explains, her main interest is “to delve into the use of these algae as bioindicators” and this contract, she acknowledges, is a “great step” in her career. “I have been working hard for many years to reach a moment like this.” She values very positively that the University of Vigo “had been a pioneer in this type of retention programs, because it is an opportunity that did not exist years ago, and that allows us to continue with our lines of research and our projects, and hopefully it had been possible to continue over time”. Still, she assumes that the world of research is “tough and complicated” but hopes that this contract will allow her a chance of stabilization. “You never know for sure what can happen”, she remarks, “I am one of the few that decided to be a mother before even finishing my thesis, and I know if everything was complicated it became a little more complicated. Now I am very happy with all the work done and all the effort that I, and my family made to be able to reconcile work and family life and I’m already happy with that! ”.
In the next three years, she will try to deepen her ecological knowledge of diatoms. She also recognizes that she hopes to “identify some more new species for science”, since during her pre and post-doctoral stages she has already described four new species, one of them dedicated Prof. Ramón Margalef (Cymbopleura margalefii C. Delgado, MH Novais, S. Blanco & L. Ector 2013). “I now hope from the University of Vigo to be able to advance with this subject of taxonomy that I am also passionate about.”
Finally, José Santiago Pozo completes the list of new distinguished researchers. Until now in the Department of Engineering of Natural Resources and Environment as staff of the Juan de lana Cierva program and current deputy director of Foreign Relations and Mobility of the School of Mining Engineering and Energy. Pozo is part of the Mine Exploitation research group and, together with Professor Teresa Rivas, focuses on the conservation of immovable cultural heritage. “I am dedicated to the evaluation and development of technologies and methodologies for the conservation of works, such as monuments and stone faces, lime or cement mortars, historical and contemporary wall paintings, etc.” His research, focuses mainly on “cleaning heritage objects using mechanical, chemical or laser techniques. Although, he also carries out consolidation and waterproofing studies on the works. For this reason, this contract within the talent retention program is “a pill of time to continue in which in Spain and Galicia it is so difficult to achieve professionally: dedicating yourself to the world of research”.
Pozo complains that, despite the fact that the rates of scientific production are highly valued to achieve good positions in the rankings, “the investment to retain new researchers with leading careers is small and on many occasions makes them have to look for new opportunities in other countries”. In his case, he has spent more than ten years “immersed in this long-distance race through exchanges and different contracts of the Xunta de Galicia and the Ministry of Science, making stays in the US, Portugal, Greece, etc. and in this way continue swimming, thanks to this contract I will be able to continue with one of my vocations: that of being a researcher ”. He remarks that this contract gives him “more time to be able to continue teaching, managing, publishing, attending conferences, directing TFG, TFM and doctoral thesis with which I am committed and thus, continue making merits to obtain the contract par excellence in the national research field, the Ramón y Cajal contracts of the Ministry of Science and Innovation, since it is the only contract through which I can achieve stabilization at the University”.
When it comes to research, for the next three years it will focus on two main pillars. “On the one hand, we will carry out laser cleaning of stone works with volumes through robotic systems, to automate the cleaning of the works so that the deposit can be removed from the substrate without damaging it, as a result of the difficulty of maintaining the laser always at the same distance from the object. On the other hand, under the European project CAPuS (Conservation of Art in Public Spaces), I will dedicate myself to the development of cleaning and protection methodologies for acrylic, alkyd and vinyl paints used in contemporary murals that are now part of the urban scene”.