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International Talks: Aleksandra Predeina

Being a researcher on a red cabriolet

When I first started to think about what I would like to do after my Masters, honestly, the only thing that I knew for sure was to never see -20oC on my thermometer ever again. That is why the idea of moving to sunny and warm Italy seemed especially tempting. I saw myself with my feet in the warm, and crystal clear Mediterranean sea, with a ‘glass-of-something’ in my hand or riding off into the sunset on a red cabriolet (it had to be red).

That is exactly when the opportunity to come to IIT arose, as well all the other best things in life, completely out of nowhere. I remember how in October 2021 I wrote an email to Professor Teresa Pellegrino asking some questions about the position published on one of the websites for PhD search. And already in March 2022, after the massive amount of emailing back and forth, and mountains of paperwork done for the Italian embassy, I entered the IIT campus for the first time in my life as a collaborator of the HeatNMoF project (https://heatnmof.eu/).

“Heating triggered drug release from nanometric inorganic – metal-organic framework composites”, or shortly HeatNMoF research project, aims to investigate the variety of composites combining metal-organic frameworks (structures that have an high versatility and biocompatibility) with magnetic nanoparticles and exploring their most promising applications, for instance in cancer therapy, due to the fact that this combination allows to control specific reactions at a molecular and cellular scale.

I see this project as a great opportunity for me not only to learn a massive amount of new things and skills but also to work in a completely different, constantly changing environment full of people truly passionate about what they are doing.

I think research is one of the most difficult but, at the same time, the most morally rewarding lines of work. Sometimes you can be stuck without getting any progress for months and months, which makes you tough, patient, and extremely good at troubleshooting. Other times, when everything goes right and you see the results of your hard work, you feel so proud of yourself (which all of us should totally be)! I do research because of that feeling of contributing to something great and knowing that a part of my knowledge and labor will be saved and hopefully used for years and years. That idea (and the red cabriolet of course) is my greatest motivation and a driving force for doing more and more great research!