From left to right are Ángela Arnosa Prieto, Lucas Van der Hauwaert and Helena Pereira. Photographs provided by the awarded winner’s research staff.

The jury of the 2022 edition of the research pitches contest of the Compostela Group of Universities awards the video presentations of three candidates from the universities of Santiago de Compostela and Minho.

The members of the jury of the VI Research Pitches Contest of the Compostela Group of Universities decided to bestow the first prize to the researcher from the University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) Ángela Arnosa Prieto. In her pitch  Magnetic Nanoparticles for Enhancing Cancer Immunotherapy, the PhD student from the Materials Science programme of the USC tackles the use of magnetic nanoparticles to enhance cancer immunotherapy through the application of magnetic hyperthermia.

When assessing her pitch, the jury highlighted the “expository clarity of her presentation”, in which she explains the “key terms in a way that is understandable for the general public”, despite using a specialised discourse. Moreover, they considered that her research could have a significant impact on society and academia.

The second prize in the competition went to researcher Lucas Van der Hauwaert, enrolled in the PhD programme in Chemical and Environmental Engineering at USC. In his video presentation Alchemy: A modeling framework for biorefinery design integrating predictive bioreactor models, Van der Hauwaert explains how bioreactors can help make products more sustainable. His research project focuses on finding refinery designs that incorporate bioreactors.

In their observations, the academic personnel who are part of the evaluating body noted that a large number of products are not sustainable because they do not use renewable resources. Therefore, it is “a problem of nowadays society that demands solutions” and the scientist’s project “presents a general idea of how the process could be analysed in a sustainable bioreactor”.

The third prize was awarded to the Guided Absorption Bone Substitutes pitch by researcher Helena Pereira from the PhD programme Leaders for Technical Industries at the University of Minho (UMinho). Pereira says in her motivation letter that bone is the second most transplanted tissue in the world and bone substitutes failure is a concern. Through her research, she shows that by using degradable calcium phosphates it is possible to obtain a substitute with controlled dissolution compatible with the rate of bone regeneration.

Regarding her presentation, the jury for the VI Research Pitches Contest considered that she makes a “good exposition of the problem and approach”, even though “it seems that the project is at a very early stage”.

A record-breaking edition

The number of applications received makes the 2022 edition the most successful of the initiative since its launch, improving the results of the call with the best records so far, that of 2020 with 25 pitches. For this year’s edition, the members of the research teams of the network’s member universities submitted 30 applications.