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EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Future Infrastructure and Built Environment


Congratulations to Dr Alexandra Clarà Saracho, a FIBE alumna from Cohort 2,  who has recently been awarded a Research Fellowship at King’s College, University of Cambridge, effective October 2021. Dr Clarà Saracho is an interdisciplinary scientist and geotechnical engineer active in the field of bio-mediated soil processes and sustainable geotechnical engineering practices. She is particularly interested in understanding the microbial processes involved in the formation of calcium carbonates by soil-dwelling bacteria, and the relationship between the microstructure of the minerals they form and the macroscopic hydro-thermo-mechanical response of carbonate cemented soils. Originally from Spain, Alexandra studied Civil Engineering at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) in Barcelona, and earned her MRes and PhD in Geotechnical Engineering at the University of Cambridge within the framework of an EPSRC International Doctoral Scholar Award in the Future Infrastructure and Built Environment Centre For Doctoral Training. She then moved from Cambridge to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne (EPFL) as a Postdoctoral Researcher, where, as part of the ERC-funded BIOGEOS project, she expanded her research to the application of soft matter for the engineering of biomineralised composites.

Covering the nexus of the biological sciences, materials chemistry and engineering, Dr Clarà Saracho addresses key questions of bio-mediated soil processes and sustainable geotechnical systems, where fundamental research, physical modelling and technology transfer can be integrated in collaboration with industry. As an incoming Research Fellow, Alexandra’s vision is to conduct pioneering research on the provision of energy security in the context of the clean energy transition and on the pathway to net-zero emissions. More specifically, she will exploit MICP as a sustainable and innovative bio-manufacturing process to enhance the thermal performance of ground-source heat pump (GSHP) heating/cooling systems and to substantially improve the rate of anthropogenic CO2 sequestration through mineral-trapping. Through her activities, Alexandra calls for a paradigm shift in the way we design and build, from consuming Nature to working with her.

“I hope that the technical and scientific developments resulting from my work will be broadly applicable, and will radically change scientific ideas about carbonate biomineralisation, compositional vital effects, and the tailored crystallisation of functionally-modified products.” - Alexandra Clarà Saracho

It is indeed a huge accolade to be awarded a Research Fellowship in Engineering at King's College. FIBE CDT is immensely proud of  Alexandra's extraordinary achievements. We hope it will also inspire future generations of FIBE and FIBE2 PhD students. We are excited to have her back at Cambridge University and wish her every success in her career!