Olesia Dudik, focused on the development of an electrochemical sensing platform for alkali metal ion detection

March 14, 2024

Welcome to a new interview highlighting the indispensable role of women in science. We aim to showcase the remarkable contributions of women working at INL across various disciplines and career stages. Join us as we celebrate their achievements, share their stories, and inspire future generations of female scientists.

Olesia Dudik is currently a Research Fellow in the Water Quality Group at the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL). Her research area focuses on sensor development (optical, electrochemical).

She holds a BSc and an MSc in organic chemistry from the Taurida National V.I. Vernadsky University (Ukraine) and obtained a PhD degree in Physics and Chemistry of Surface from the Chuiko Institute of Surface Chemistry of NAS of Ukraine in 2014, studying adsorption-desorption processes and mechanisms and kinetics of chemical transformations of aliphatic and biologically active amines (anaesthetics) on the surface of dispersed oxides.

Can you give us an update on what you’re currently working on?

When I joined INL two years ago, the transition to working in the area of sensor development (optical, electrochemical) from a tissue engineering and regenerative medicine field was a bit challenging. Nevertheless, I was excited by the opportunity to gain new knowledge, and skills and implement them in discoveries. The acquired knowledge helps me grow further professionally. 

Nowadays, my research area focuses on the development of an electrochemical sensing platform for alkali metal ion detection. For instance, one of the target ions is lithium, which detection is very crucial for quality control in terms of environmental pollution during the industrial recycling process of lithium-ion batteries. The developed electrochemical sensors for detecting sodium and lithium ions will be applied in the analysis of industrial wastewater from the refining process for real-time analysis. The PRR: BP02 – MONITORING AND MODELLING FOR SUSTAINABLE LITHIUM REFINING is an ambitious project and I am very motivated by my contribution to the achievement of its objectives. 

Could you briefly describe what a typical day looks like for you, Olesia, and what aspects of your work and the INL organization excite you the most?

I find it difficult to answer what a typical day looks like for me because in scientific life there is no day like that. And I like it! 

My day may involve designing and conducting experiments, and data analysis, and discussing the results with colleagues. You know, that Science is not a field of activity where everything happens quickly and for the first time. Sometimes, to get a high-quality result, the optimization of the protocol is needed, and the same experiments should be carried out several times, and maybe several dozen. Additionally, my day may include writing reports and scientific papers. I may also be involved in attending meetings (internal or external), participating in scientific conferences in Portugal and abroad, and supervising students as well.

For me, being engaged in scientific activities at INL means working in a high-quality work environment with an unbeatable team spirit. I consider my research area inspiring and exciting. Sensor technology is a very popular area, as sensors play a vital role in a wide range of applications from healthcare to industrial.  At INL I am very excited to work with people who are dedicated to the success of research studies.   A research environment is a place where we work hard, practice patience, face challenges, have constant growth both personally and professionally, and build confidence as a scientist, and undoubtedly it’s a place for the realization of our scientific and creative potential. Being a scientist is not only a profession but also a state of mind! 

How can you inspire future students to follow a STEAM path? 

Nowadays nobody could imagine living in the world without science and technology. STEAM is a powerful tool for giving knowledge and improving our lives.

During my scientific career, I didn´t lose my passion for research. I have a lot of ideas, a lot of energy, and enthusiasm to discover new strategies and approaches. Therefore, being a scientist allows me to realize my professional potential. Every day going to work I am embracing the journey of curiosity, experimentation, discoveries, a deep sense of purpose, creativity in finding solutions, and motivation in promoting innovation. Working in STEAM allows me to meet with outstanding scientists whose discoveries and inventions provide a big source of inspiration and who never lose faith in the success of the final results. 

In my opinion, making a career in STEAM means continuously expanding horizons, expressing yourself, contributing to innovation maintaining a harmonious work-life balance.

Text and Photography by Gina Palha, Corporate Communication and Marketing Officer