Alumni in Focus – Dr. Paloma Hidalgo Manrique

From working on creating stronger magnesium alloys for the transport industry in her first postdoctoral position to her latest project related to biodegradable magnesium implants, Dr. Paloma Hidalgo Manrique’s professional research career to date has been heavily focused on getting the most out of our lightest structural metal.

After completing her PhD at the National Centre for Metallurgical Research in Madrid in 2012, Dr. Hidalgo joined IMDEA Materials as a member of what is today known as the Sustainable Metallurgy group led by Dr. Teresa Pérez Prado.

It was there that the Oviedo native began to further her work into magnesium, having previously focused on high-strength aluminium alloys during her doctorate.

“We were working on a very interesting topic related to the influence of rare earth elements on the mechanical and recrystallisation behaviour of magnesium,” Dr. Hidalgo recalls.

“Magnesium is the lightest structural metal and one of the main objectives in physical metallurgy is to get stronger magnesium alloys with a good formability, which is difficult.”

“If we can achieve that, then we can use these alloys to substitute heavier metals like aluminium for structural applications, particularly in the transport industry.”

Dr. Hidalgo left IMDEA Materials in 2015 to take up a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manchester where she continued her work into the formability of light alloys, in particular magnesium and aluminium.

She described working at the same institution previously home to scientific greats like Alan Turing and Sir Ernest Rutherford as “an honour”, as was collaborating with the likes of Cambridge University and Imperial College. 

However, after nearly 15 years as both a research assistant and a postdoctoral researcher, in 2019 Dr. Hidalgo decided to pursue the next stage in her professional career by taking on a position as a lecturer at Rey Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

She acknowledged that the transition from pure researcher to a more academic-orientated position had been challenging at first. And she said she was still searching for the perfect balance between her dual roles of lecturer and researcher.

“I’m very happy now because I love teaching and at the end of the day, it’s just as rewarding or even more so than research,” she said.

“At the same time, I’m still trying to find a balance between teaching and research. I recently started a new project funded by the Community of Madrid working on magnesium alloys once again, but this time for biomedical applications.”

“Magnesium is a biocompatible and biodegradable metal so it’s a good candidate for temporary implants.”

Looking back on her time at IMDEA Materials eight years on, Dr. Hidalgo highlighted the collegial work environment as what had stuck with her most since her time with the Institute.

“I remember when I was there, we were quite a small group so our relationships were very close. Everyone was very friendly, very helpful and willing to teach you something. I remember my time at IMDEA Materials as a very fun period of my life,” she said.

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You can read our full interview with Dr. Paloma Hidalgo here: