Juan Morales López

Juan Morales López comes from Jaén (Andalucía, Spain) and just joined the Material Science Institute of Madrid after finishing his Chemistry Bachelor's and Master's Degree at Universidad de Jaén. Now he is starting his Ph.D., which is codirected by Eduardo R. Hernández (Simulation and Modelling of Materials Group, SIMOMA) and Francisco del Monte (Bioinspired Materials Group). His thesis' provisional title is 'Artificial Intelligence for Optimisation of Materials for Energy Storage'.

What have you worked on so far?

I studied Chemistry Bachelor's and Master's Degree at Universidad de Jaén, in Andalucía (y olé!). I collaborated with Eduardo Hernández as my Master's compulsory internship in one of his projects, involving Python, which is one of the main languages to code AI algorithms. During my Master's Thesis I applied Computational Chemistry, DFT (Density Functional Theory) specifically, to simulate UV-Vis absorption and emission of a series of compounds of biological interest, and I liked it.

What will you work on? With whom?

We are interested in learning which combinations of solvents and solutes could make an optimal electrolyte for new batteries, with an special focus on high stability and low toxicity. As there are almost infinite possible combinations of these components, we will try to apply Artificial Intelligence algorithms to predict which properties could result from certain combinations of interest, without resorting to experiments, and thus accelerating the searching process by a great amount. Ideally, we would like to train an algorithm from known experimental (Paco del Monte's group handles this) and simulated (Eduardo's realm of knowledge) systems, and be able to extrapolate these results to unknown systems. It is a really ambitious proposal, and I'm glad I'm able to be a part of it. Right now, our daily work team is composed by four parts: Paco's group, Eduardo, Miguel Dalmau (another new Ph. D. student, a Physicist), and me, and we make a great team!

Why did you choose ICMM?

I had my first contact with Materials Science on my Bachelor's 4th year, and I really enjoyed the possibility of combining diverse fields of Chemistry, from basic knowledge to synthesis and characterization techniques, to develop new materials. I'm kind of an interdisciplinary person, so I prefer working in the middle ground between various disciplines instead of specializing in a very narrow field of knowledge. To me, CSIC is a formidable research institution, and I wanted my hard work to have a real impact in society, so I was willing to learn from some of the best in their fields. I like Madrid as well, so to me it was pure arithmetic: Materials + CSIC + Madrid = awesome.

And a personal touch: any hobbies? What would you like to contribute to the institute?

Unfortunately, I have too many hobbies and too short time to practise all of them. Currently I'm playing chess at Liga Madrileña de Ajedrez, which I enjoy very much, and I'm trying to learn how to play piano. I usually jog with my dog in nature 3 times a week, so we both get rid of stress, and play some videogames. I also know how to sing and play guitar, and I enjoy reading from time to time. I could say that instead of hobbies, I have secondary jobs, because I take them pretty seriously. Anyway, I'm a kind, open person, am I'm always ready to have some deep conversations about any topic. I like to hear interesting stories and learn from people, so that could be my personal contribution to the institute. If someone wants to lose a chess match, they can just contact me!