Introducing Paulina Quintanilla - SCI Scholar 2020

23 July 2020

For over thirty years, SCI has supported and recognised the excellence of early career people, by aiding their studies in the form of an SCI Scholarship.

Since 1985 around 74 scholarships have been awarded which have not only given the recipients financial assistance, but have enabled them to broaden their network, and strengthen their skills and knowledge. SCI Scholars receive access to publishing and mentoring opportunities and are given a platform to present their work amongst esteemed scientists and industrialists, thus raising their profile within the scientific community.

In the past ten years alone, SCI has generously bequeathed over £115,000 of its charitable funds to SCI Scholars and the scientists of the future.

We are delighted to announce that Paulina Quintanilla, has been awarded an SCI scholarship of £5,000 over two years to support her studies at Imperial College London. Paulina started her PhD in 2018, funded by the Chilean National Agency of Research and Development (ANID) and supervised by Dr Pablo Brito-Parada and Prof Stephen Neethling.

In addition to the scholarship, she will benefit from publishing opportunities, access to a high-calibre network to help launch her career, and opportunities to present her work and raise her profile within the scientific community.

SCI Scholarships are prestigious and well respected by the industry. The SCI Scholars Fund was established in 1920 by the requests of Rudolph Messel and John Gray, both former presidents and founding members of SCI. SCI believes in nurturing the scientists of the future. Each year, SCI provides scholarships and bursaries to early career scientists including opportunities to attend or present at an international conference. Imperial College London are pleased that Paulina has been offered this scholarship and her research is particularly focused on froth flotation, which is the largest tonnage separation process by which valuable mineral particles are separated from waste rock. The main objective of the PhD is to develop and implement phenomenological flotation models into predictive control (MPC) strategies. MPC is one of the best methodologies offering the robustness and adaptability needed in the industry, by which both economic and environmental benefits can be achieved.

Paulina was born and grew up in the North of Chile, a region where the most important copper mining companies are located. Knowing the importance that copper has in Chile’s economy, along with a passion for science and maths in high school, Paulina decided to pursue a BEng Chemical Engineering degree at Federico Santa María University (USM) in Valparaíso, Chile.

Excelling in her studies, Paulina gained outstanding marks and receiving recognition for being among the top students each year. In the final year she was awarded a scholarship for an MSc degree at USM, during which Paulina worked with Dr Aldonza Jaques; studying the effect of porosity and pressure in cyanide leaching of gold in agitated tanks. After receiving her degrees, Paulina then became a recipient of a USM award as the best chemical engineering student of 2017. This was given in recognition of ranking the highest in her class, and for obtaining both BEng and MSc degrees in a shorter time than expected. She also received an award from the Chilean College of Engineers in recognition of being the best chemical engineer graduated in 2017.

During 2017/2018 Paulina worked as a researcher with Dr Daniel Navia, on a project about real time optimisation for process supervision, from which two articles were published. At the same time, she worked as a part-time lecturer on two modules for the undergraduate chemical engineering course: Analysis and design of industrial experiments, and process control seminar. This experience led her to pursue a PhD degree combining both mineral processing and optimisation.

During the first year of her PhD, Paulina received a grant from IOM3 and the Imperial College Trust to fund participation at the 18th IFAC MMM conference, which took place in Stellenbosch, South Africa, and where Paulina presented the initial results from her PhD research.

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Notes to editors:

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