Alumni in Focus – Dr. Pablo Romero

Since the earliest stages of his scientific career, ex-IMDEA Materials researcher, Dr. Pablo Romero, has been searching for the perfect balance between his twin passions of conducting fundamental research and seeing it applied in the real world.

Romero spent more than four years at IMDEA Materials from 2012 to 2016 while completing his PhD in materials science, focusing on the development of carbon-based nanocomposites thin films.

This involved the synthesis of carbon nanomaterials through chemical vapour deposition and studying the role of low-cost metal catalysts on the synthesis process.

“Because carbon is a biocompatible material, it allows living matter to grow,” Romero explained. “The idea is that, by creating these very thin layers of carbon nanomaterials, you can create biocompatible structures.

“These can be particularly useful for bioapplications and also for things like water treatment or even sensors implanted in the brain because the neurons would be able to grow on the surface of the material that you have introduced.

“The carbon nanomaterials field is huge and there’s no doubt that these technologies are going to conquer a lot of applications in the future.”

Since then, however, the 38-year-old has turned his hand to the project management side of the equation and is currently working as the R&D Project Manager – Advanced Materials and Manufacturing at AIMEN Technological Centre.

“I enjoy doing fundamental research, but given my engineering background, I also like to apply solutions in the real world and solve technical problems,” Romero said.

“During my time at IMDEA Materials, I started to shift towards these large-scale collaborative projects between companies, universities, research centres etc. and bringing them together to create something with a very focused application.”

“With these kinds of projects, it can be really difficult to align the interests of a dozen or more partners so it requires a lot of dynamism and I enjoy developing those soft skills that are required in such situations.”

Since leaving IMDEA Materials seven years ago, Romero has maintained a strong connection with the Institute. Currently, AIMEN and IMDEA Materials are both involved in DOMMINIO, a European Union-funded project to design next-generation, multifunctional airframe parts.

As DOMMINIO’s project manager, Romero maintains responsibility for the smooth collaboration between 14 diverse international partners, among which are the likes of global aerospace giant BAE Systems and research institutions like the French-based Arts et Metiers Institute of Technology.

And he said that technology centres like AIMEN play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the various stages of the materials design process.

“Institutes like IMDEA Materials are obviously providing that pure research focus which generates a lot of knowledge and ideas,” he said. “Then, centres like AIMEN can provide the link between that work and the end companies who are going to be the ones bringing these new technologies to the market.”

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You can read a full transcript of our interview with Pablo Romero here: