​Alejandra Durand Silva​

Hometown:
Mexico City, Mexico

Doctoral degree pursuing:
Ph.D. in Chemistry

Institution:
The University of Texas at Dallas
 

Tell us about your research and what attracted you to this area.

At the Smaldone Lab, our approach is to use tools like Dynamic Covalent Chemistry, Supramolecular Chemistry and Self-assembly to create materials for 3D printing technologies. We are working in the creation of molecular assemblies using cyclodextrins to synthesize biodegradable materials that can be 3D printed for drug-delivery and tissue engineering applications. This project attracted my attention because I believe that there are many chemistry reactions and supramolecular interactions known that can be exploded for creating innovative materials and provide a new scope of applications in 3D printing.

Why did you decide to study at UT Dallas?

I decided to study at UT Dallas because during my undergraduate courses I was awarded with a scholarship to attend the UT Dallas-Mexico Summer Research Program. In six weeks I was able to experience working on organic synthesis and I felt very welcome at the Smaldone Lab. I really enjoyed the science I was able to do here.

What has been your most rewarding experience so far at UT Dallas?

The best experience is to wake up every day and feel able to work in a diverse team and to contribute in creating something new, being proud of where I come from and what I am able to do because of what my family and Mexican professors taught me.

What has been a challenge, or a surprise for you since you have been studying in Texas?

The first science classes I had in English were complicated. It was difficult to learn in a new language, but my listening has improved significantly after being here a few months.​

Settling in was also complicated without having a car. My first semester, I hurt my ankle and I felt like I was alone, but a surprise was all the nice friends who have helped me -- they give me rides and are always there. I have discovered new friends I never would have imagined meeting.

How do you hope your research will impact the binational relationship between the U.S. and Mexico in the future?

​I hope we can grow together as countries, just as I learn together with my lab mates, in a horizontal relationship, with equality and respect. My research is about creating something useful with the knowledge we already have.

I think the relationship between Mexico and the U.S. is similar - we know each other and we have to create a new relationship that impacts the life of each Mexican and each American, with a better development of science, education, health and human rights.

What advice would you give other Mexican students who may be considering studying in Texas?

That the education we received in Mexico is good enough to take you to new horizons, so be proud of being who you are and show how good Mexicans can be as scientists and as people.

But be prepared to learn because here you will have infinite tools, materials and resources, there is so much science to do here and many people to work with who will teach you something new every day.