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IQTC Women: Alba Nin-Hill

The path of Alba Nin-Hill in STEM started with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from 2010 to 2014 at the Universitat de Barcelona. She developed a strong interest in computational modeling and its applications upon enrolling in the introductory courses of computational chemistry organized by IQTC. After she defended her undergraduate degree project – in which she worked with another woman in STEM, Prof. Carme Rovira, who encouraged her to participate in a CECAM Summer School on Atomistic Simulation Techniques – she did a European master in Theoretical Chemistry and Computational Modelling (2014-2016). During that time, Alba obtained an IQTC research initiation grant and a UB collaboration grant with the Organic Chemistry Department.

Later on, she did a PhD in computational biochemistry, supervised by Prof. Carme Rovira, at the Universitat de Barcelona (2016-2020) funded by the Research Agency of the Catalonia Government (AGAUR, FI 2017). During her PhD she participated in multiple courses and congresses, in which she had the opportunity to deliver oral and poster presentations. She also did a three-month secondment at the University of York under the supervision of Prof. Gideon Davies, complementing her theoretical skills with experiments (molecular and structural biology).

Her PhD thesis focused on uncovering the molecular mechanisms of two enzymes, β-galactocerebrosidase and α-arabinofuranosidase. These enzymes process carbohydrates formed by five- and six-membered sugar rings and are of biochemical and biotechnological relevance. Her work was published in JACS and ACS Catalysis (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.9b11351 and 10.1021/acscatal.0c02609).

From: The Catalytic Reaction Mechanism of the β-Galactocerebrosidase Enzyme Deficient in Krabbe Disease (Alba Nin-Hill and Carme Rovira, ACS Publications 2020)

Alba also participated in other interdisciplinary projects related to sugars in superacid media, organic molecules and receptor channel proteins, which resulted in several other peer-reviewed publications. Since January 2021, she is a Maria de Maeztu postdoctoral researcher at Rovira’s Lab. Her research focuses on the computational study of enzymatic reactions employing QM/MM molecular dynamics and enhanced sampling techniques.

In her spare time, Aba likes reading, watching films and doing human towers (castellers).