I am originally from Peru where I graduated as a Chemical Engineering with a thesis related to the investigation of heavy metals as indicators of pollution in seawater.
This work encouraged me to specialize in analytical techniques. I decided to pursue a postgraduate course in the UK where I successfully completed an MSc in Analytical Chemistry (Birkbeck College, University of London) in 2005.
After completion of my course, I found a job as Research Technician at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics in Bradford. I provided support in the pharmacokinetic studies and in the synthesis of small chain peptides for drug delivery using chromatographic techniques, NMR and Mass Spectrometry.
In 2007, I joined the Department of Pharmacology at Oxford University where I worked for five years as Research Assistant quantifying amino acids and vitamin B6 for the Smith-Refsum Group which is dedicated to the investigation of biomarkers of Alzheimer Disease and Obesity.
Although the work was very rewarding, I felt that I was going further away from my original field of engineering and I started to look for a job opportunity in industry. But it was difficult to find a placement with so many years spent in academic institutions.
At the same time, I always wanted to obtain a PhD. Fortunately, I attended a career workshop where I was advised to search for an industrial doctoral centre (IDC) and that is how I found STREAM.
The STREAM IDC Programme was perfect for me because it combined the industrial placement with the research input and most importantly working in the water sector that has applicability worldwide.
I joined STREAM in 2012 with a project related to trihalomethanes formation in drinking water. Trihalomethanes are a type of disinfection by-product that forms after the reaction of chlorine during disinfection with organic compounds that were not removed by the process.
The project involves also other disciplines that will enhance and complement the investigation as well as my skills. Some of the analytical work will involve the characterisation of dissolved organic matter (hydrophilic organic compounds) that may be associated to trihalomethanes formation.
STREAM also provides the opportunity to visit other research institutions in the UK and USA (RENUWIT Programme) that may contribute to networking opportunities in the future.
Maria is now working as a Process Scientist at Scottish Water https://www.linkedin.com/in/maria-valdivia-garcia-812a5135/