Wednesday, September 26, 2012

First Post and Presentation

Well, I guess it is time to try to keep track of myself and what I am doing. This is by no means meant to instruct anyone in anything, but the idea is for me to keep myself busy and improving. If I can share some ideas with someone else it is just a bonus for me.

I will post stuff about chemistry (mostly problems I encounter and hopefully the solutions I find), photography, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and I guess some philosophical and political stuff.

So, who am I? Well, if you are asking that in a professional way, here is my CV. The rest of this text will be very informal.

I am a Colombian/Swedish citizen, living in Sweden since I was 14 years old. I was born in Pereira, a medium-sized city in Colombia which is known as the capital of the coffee triangle (the other two cities are Manizales and Armenia).

Since 1996 I have been living in Sweden. I started in a small city called Flen, and in 1997 I moved to Stockholm (the city who chose to call it self "the capital of Scandinavia" and pissed off the people of  Oslo (I guess Copenhagen is to confident of its real position to argue about niceties).

Anyway, in 2001 I decided to become a Chemical Engineer and moved to Uppsala, where I met my wife Julia. In 2006 we got our lovely daughter Miranda and another little baby is on its way at the moment (planned to november 2012) .

Well, lets go back in time a bit. Before finishing my studies, I decided  to become a medicinal chemist, and my grand plan was to end up working in scale-up or process development. Therefore, at the end of 2006 I chose to start my Ph.D. studies at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, also in Uppsala, supervised by Prof. Mats Larhed. I had the opportunity to work in the area of Palladium catalyzed coupling reactions (publications here, here, here, here and here) and HIV-protease and integrase inhibitors (publications here and here respectively).

I get a lot of questions about how it is being a Ph.D. student in organic chemistry. First of all: I did never consider myself to be a student. Of my five years of education, I only had to go three courses, the rest of it was plain work. What I  most enjoyed was the possibility of driving your own projects. It is like having your own mini-coorporation. You learn a lot about planning, finding information and applying it to real case scenarios. Moreover, you get the opportunity to really understand a subject to its core and to test own theories. If sometimes I wanted to test a new purification technique, no problem, go ahead. If it did not work, well, I always tried it at least three time before giving up. Most of the times I got it right after a few modifications that suited my style of work better. Being a Ph.D. is like being a child again; a curious child. You are allowed to test and try whatever you like (almost), as long as you manage to keep delivering results from your main projects.

One of the things I loved the most as a Ph.D. student, and that I will miss now that I have defended, is the teaching. Some people detest this, but I just loved it. It is quite satisfying having a big crow of students in front of you smiling because you managed to explain reaction mechanisms, trends and patterns in a way they understand. One of the most important things about teaching is, in order to make a good job, you actually have to understand the subject pretty well. Planning the lectures/seminars/labs gave you the opportunity to discover your weaknesses and go fix them. Moreover, most students are very fun and outgoing.

Well, I guess I will finish here for now. I will continue posting less about me and more about chemistry, photography and BJJ in no especial order.


// Alejandro

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