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I am a Puerto Rican postdoctoral research associate in Chemistry at Texas A&M University. My research revolves around the surface modification of zirconium phosphate nanoplatelets (ZrP) for different applications. These materials have been proven to be useful in many areas such as drug delivery, emulsion stabilizers, fire retardants, Janus particles, catalysis, catalytic supports, among others. The surface modification of this material will have profound effects on all these applications, where tailored-made nanoplatelets can be used to tune the mechanical, optical, catalytic, electronic, and biological applicability of the produced material. I am specifically involved in the modification of zirconium phosphate nanoparticles for drug delivery, catalytic support, nanofillers for polymer-based composites, artificial photosynthesis systems, and solid surfactants applications. In addition, I study the intercalation chemistry of ZrP and their use as drug delivers. The main achievements of this project was the nanoencapsulation of insulin into ZrP for oral delivery applications (Biomacromolecules, 2010, 11, 2465) and the direct intercalation of anticancer drugs into ZrP nanoplatelets for potential cancer nanotherapy (Chem. Commun., 2012, 48, 1754). I was part of the PR-LSAMP BDP program, AGEP, NASA space grant consortium, and RISE program from NIH during my PhD studies. In addition, during my PhD studies I mentored over 40 undergraduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups, about the University life, and persuaded them to experience biomedical research as part of the Pre-Marc Program. Moreover, I designed and presented chemistry workshops to over 400 high public school students and 33 high school teachers, enrolled in the NSF/PR-LSAMP as part of the weekend and summer academia program. During this last year I was awarded a Welch Foundation fellowship and this year I was awarded the Postdoctoral Ford Foundation Fellowship. Now that I am at College Station, I became a member of the local SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) chapter and its tutoring services. As part of this program I give free tutoring to underrepresented students that need help in their science classes.
My background is in Inorganic and Bioinorganic Chemistry, with a main focus on the synthesis and characterization of inorganic layered materials, and their use in artificial photosynthesis systems and as drug carriers in biological systems. My research interest devolves around the intercalation chemistry and surface modification of inorganic layered nanomaterials (ILN) for different applications. The intercalation chemistry of these materials opens a broad gamut of compounds that can be prepared to target specific applications. Moreover, the surface modification of these materials will have a profound effect on all these applications, where tailored-made nanoparticles can be prepared in order to tune the mechanical, optical, catalytic, electronical, and biological applicability of the produced materials. I am specifically interested in the isotropic and anisotropic surface modification of tetravalent metal (such as zirconium, titanium, and tin, etc.) phosphates and phosphonates nanoplatelets for drug delivery applications, catalytic support, nanofillers for polymer-based nanocomposites, artificial photosynthesis systems, and solid non-surfactants emulsifiers. I am specifically interested in surface modification with magnetic nanoparticles to produce magnetically active systems, addition of bioactive species on the surface to target specific tissues or cells, incorporation of hydrophobic species onto the surfaces to improve the solubility of the nanoparticles in organic media, and the addition of photoactive species on the surface for different applications such as photoinduced charge separation, photocatalytic reactions, photodynamic therapy, etc. In addition, I have been specializing during the last years on the synthesis and characterization of metallic nanocrystals, such as: PtCu, PdCu, Ni3S4, among others, for catalytic and magnetic applications.
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