School of Engineering


Maria Valdivia Garcia

THM From Formation Pre-Cursors To Management Strategies

  • STREAM EngD Cohort IV
  • Start Date: 1 October 2012
  • End Date: May 2017 (EngD awarded July 2017)
  • Research Area: Environment
  • Supervisors: Dr David Werner, Prof David Graham and Scottish Water
  • Current Status: Research Associate in Metabolomics at Imperial College London

My research project

I joined STREAM in 2012 with a project related to trihalomethanes formation in drinking water. Trihalomethanes are a type of disinfection by-product. They form after the reaction of chlorine with organic compounds that were not removed by the process.

The project involved other disciplines, which has enhanced and complemented the investigation, as well as my skills. Some analytical work involved the characterisation of dissolved organic matter (hydrophilic organic compounds) that may be associated with trihalomethanes formation.

My academic and work history

I am originally from Peru. I graduated as a Chemical Engineer with a thesis related to the investigation of heavy metals as indicators of pollution in seawater.

This work encouraged me to specialise in analytical techniques. I decided to pursue a postgraduate course in the UK, and successfully completed an MSc in Analytical Chemistry (Birkbeck College, University of London) in 2005.

I then worked as a Research Technician at the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics in Bradford. I provided support in 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 a Research Assistant. My role involved quantifying amino acids and vitamin B6 for the Smith-Refsum Group. The Group investigates biomarkers for Alzheimers 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. It was difficult to find a placement with so many years spent in academic institutions.

At the same time, I always wanted to get a PhD. During a career workshop, I was advised to search for an Industrial Doctoral Centre (IDC) and that is how I found STREAM.

What STREAM offers

The Programme was perfect for me; it combined the industrial placement with the research input and, most importantly, working in the water sector that has applicability worldwide.

STREAM also provides the opportunity to visit other research institutions in the UK and USA (RENUWIT Programme). This can also contribute to networking opportunities.

Current status

I am now working as a Mass Spectrometer Data Curator at Cardiff University (School of Medicine).