16 Jan 2019

7. 2018 Annual Conference & Innovation Awards organized by the STA

Hi friends,

Almost three months since the last post, but I am here now to tell you a little about the last event I should the opportunity to participate in: the 2018 Annual Conference & Innovation Awards organized by the Smart Transportation Alliance (STA).

This conference was done at the city of Brussels in Belgium the past 27th of November. The event was a one-day landmark space to share experiences about the current state and future of Smart Transportation Infrastructures across modes and the Smart City. During the conference, there were covered topics about recent advances in the research field of Smart Cities: Mobility, Safety & Security, Sustainability and Financing.

All the ESR fellows of SMART ETN had the opportunity to present each one of our projects during the event in a space called: Bringing Smart Transportation Infrastructures into Reality. And the SUPER ITN receive an award for being the best innovation/project solution of the past year, which was a really motivating for all of us.

During my presentation, ESR14
One more time, I should say that being a MSCA fellow is an experience that tries to bring to all of us to all the possible scenarios we can be working in a near future as PhDs. Having the opportunity to talk to some of the recognized leaders in the sector and watching how they present their projects, deal with their work team, the areas of influence they have, and they direction the research field plans to have, definitely makes to all of us to think about the future we should build with the work we are doing now.

SMARTI ETN fellows at 2018 Conference organized by STA
Personally, I am motivated to continue trying to bring my PhD walk in a direction more than being a student, in being an integral leader.

Keep in touch,


19 Oct 2018

6. The European Researchers Night

Hi friends,

I am glad to see how you all are interested in the process of the posts of the slides! I believe that an imagen can say more than thousand words, our strategy is going by there and it is working! Thanks you all for your support!

Today I am going to tell you all about an event I participated last month: The European Researchers Night. The European Researchers Night is an event that is developed around the different cities of research supported with founds of the Marie Curie Actions. This specific event is one of the MSCActions given to legal entities, which are part of the EU Member State, to organize events related to research outreach developed in the different European research centers to the local community.

The supported activities can be hands-on experiments conducted by researchers, science shows with public participation, debates, "researchers' dating"(meet researchers and ask them questions), competitions (science quizzes, games, puzzles, photo and art contests, etc.), workshops for children, guided visits of labs, research institutes, and other relevant places that are usually closed to the public. If you want to see more details, you can visit the web page:

Once, I had explained you all what is this event about, I want to tell you my own experience in it. First of all, I can remember you all that I am civil engineer and my research topic is related to the application of magnetic fields in roads. As civil engineer, we don’t receive any course related with that, so, I have support from the Department of Physics of the University of Granada, with the professor Guillermo Iglesias (, to achieve the corresponding implementations of the tests I am doing in laboratory. From this collaboration, I started to share knowledge and therefore time, with the work team of researchers in the Department of Physics (meeting more people with passion for science and technology!).  They fortunately were planning to collaborate in the European Researchers Night Event in Granada! So, I joined to their group to do a first approach to this kind of activities, that as a Marie Curie Fellow I am called to participate.

I did the following video for you all about the planed activity (it is in Spanish, but I am going to comment about in the following lines). The information in Spanish is in the following link, I am going to comment about here in the post:

The natural ferromagnetic materials are solid at room temperature. If you heat them until fusion, they had reach the Curie (yes!) temperature, over which they loss their magnetism capacity, so, there are not ferromagnetic materials purely liquids. However, it is possible to synthetize liquid and solid elastic materials with a ferromagnetic behavior, when we disperse solid ferromagnetic particles in a liquid or a polymeric matrix (this sounds interesting, does not it?!). In those cases, the solid ferromagnetic particles are attracted by a magnet and can change their shape and stiffness.

As you saw in the video, during the activity professors Modesto López López and Luis Alvarez de Cienfuegos explained how this kind of materials work, talked about some applications and showed some demonstrative videos. After some of their explanations, the researchers Cristina Gila Vílchez and Mari Carmen Mañas Torres did demonstrative laboratory tests to audience. This time, I was just part of the support team, preparing some materials, helping them in what is was needed and learning about this kind of activities. Unfortunately, I joined later to properly prepare something more about my topic, but I promise that in the next activity I will talk about my mechanomutable asphalt materials! So, stay tuned! This experience is arriving to a really interesting part of the process and I would love to share it with you all!

Keep in touch,


13 Oct 2018

4.6. Concepts: Previous Studies!

Hi friends,

I now you want to know more about the potential applications of MAMs! Therefore, to make a summary about the past three applications (controlling the HMA modulus, self-healing capacity and anti-iced systems) and to list the last two I would like to tell you about (less susceptibility to develop permanent deformation and to help in the implementation of self-guided systems), I leave you here the 6 slide:

If you want the last post of the summer school in Palermo, maybe you now know about this 5 potential applications! But in case you did not see it and if you would like to see the complete slide, I am here sharing it with you all.

Making a little comment about the lower susceptibility to develop permanent deformation, in comparison to conventional bituminous mixtures, I want to cite a paragraph from the paper: Development of mechanomutable asphalt binders for the construction of smart pavements (

“… Under high loads and temperatures, they should behave in a more rigid manner (reducing the appearance of plastic deformations and the effects caused by the stresses transmitted by the traffic). At lowtemperatures, or in the absence of loads, they should performmore flexibly (dissipating the stresses caused by thermal shrinkage or adapting its shape without cracking under the presence of possible settlements of the soil foundation)...”

About the last potential application, I only can tell you that I am not working on it, therefore, I hope to tell you how it works when I already finished my tests at laboratory! I promise that is going to be soon! Stay tuned!

Keep in touch,


24 Sep 2018

5. Third SMARTI training: Summer School in Palermo

Hi friends,

This time I am going to talk to you all about the third training week of SMARTI, which is the summer school entitled: New Horizons in Sustainable Transport Infrastructure – Research and Education. This summer school was organized by the coordination team of SMARTI and the University of Palermo. The topics treated during this event where related to Structural Self-Monitoring, Sustainable Technology Development and Sustainability and Education.

The first part of the training was mainly developed as conferences and workshops, where we were learning general applications of Structural Self-Monitoring: 3D Surveying Techniques Applied to Civil Infrastructures, How to Monitoring Vibrations: Traditional and Advanced Tools, Geomatics Applications with Infrared Thermography and Photogrammetry for pavement distress analysis.

First part of the Summer School
The second part of the training was a team work activity directed by Dr. John Harvey, in which fellows and supervisors were participating together to develop awareness about the implementation of the concept of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in civil engineer projects and potential concrete steps with which it could be possible to make this implementation process real. I should say that I am so grateful to see the disposition of our supervisors to work with us. It was actually a really good experience in which we can meet more about them. Personally, I appreciate so much when they are close to us and enjoy with us this process of learning. They are part of the best professors in the field and feeling them so open to us reaffirmed that concept to me. More than really good professionals in engineering, they are really good professors and mentors.

Second part of the Summer School
SMARTI ETN work team
The third part of the training was an evaluation process with the doctoral studies panel. Different groups of three supervisors from the fifteen projects were making us questions about the knowledge we have developed and advances we already have in our projects. After that, we should do a 5 minutes presentation, in order to follow the business dynamic to convince a potential investor in a festival or while you two are going up in the lift of her/his company building. If you think that most of the advertisement on TV take just 30 seconds, it is possible to make a memorable presentation in five minutes! It is a kind of probe in which you can show how much you are managing your project, your business!

We are lucky because professor Mayca was so kind and she recorded a video of my 5 minutes presentation. Even I know that I should improve a lot of things in my presentations, I want to share this video with you all:  

Keep in touch,

11 Sep 2018

4.5. Concepts: Previous Studies!

Hi friends,

Thanks you all for the interest you have in learning about the mechanomutable asphalt materials! I am glad to know that every time, there are more people interested in knowing about the development process of new technologies in the fields of science and technology. It is really good to share my passion for the engineering with you all!

I want to apologize with you all because there is some time since my last post, but I like to take time to properly prepare each one of the slides I am sharing with you and I was kind of busy (wait for a second post about this).

This time, I am going to talk to you all about other potential application in which it is possible to use the MAM: the Anti-ice Systems.

As you know the ice in the surface of the pavement is a road safety problem and can stop the transportation made by land in countries with iced winters. For example, in Spain (I am talking about Spain because I am based in Granada, so, I am trying to understand the situation in my host country), more than 250 routs were affected this year by snow and ice.

Also, the ice in the surface can cause increments of the distresses that happen in the first layer of the pavement. The water inside the pavement expand its volume when it becomes ice, which generates thermal cracks in the pavement and accelerates the general distress of the pavement.

This is the third application of MAM in pavements (this posts are short because I am trying to keep simple this process of learning together), I still have more applications I am going to talk to you all about.  Please, stay tuned!

Keep in touch,


19 Jul 2018

5. MSCA Satellite Event ESOF 2018

Hi friends,

I hope you are enjoying the slides from the past posts, I promise I am going to continue with the cycle, but now I want to stop a little bit to tell you about a part of the work a MSCA fellow should be involved in and the amazing family that the MCAA alumni association represents ( 

To do that I am going to tell you about the opportunity I recently had to participate in the MSCA Satellite Event, which took place in Toulouse, France, from 7 to 8 July, before the biennial EuroScience Opening Forum (ESOF 2018, The largest interdisciplinary science meeting in Europe!

MSCA Satellite Event. First Magistral Session

The MSCA Satellite event was directed to 30 of more than 90 Marie Curie fellows whose were participating at the MSCAscicomm competition, to win the possibility to take part of the “Science Communication Training” organized by the MCAA alumni association. During the event, the fellows had the opportunity to receive coaching sessions with experts of Debatrix (, the international rewarded training company, renowned in the field of persuasiveness and debate (in the picture below you can see the coach I was working with). They were teaching us about techniques to improve our presentation skills, as for example, key questions to remain our audience interested, how to manage changes in the last moment, the meaning of our posture, just to mention some of them.

Coaching sessions with Debatrix

The event also allowed us to do networking with fellows and project managers from other knowledge areas that the MSCA actions covers and whose are involved actively in the MCAA alumni association. In the picture below you can see some fellows I had the opportunity to share with. By the way, my partner Ronald, the ESR12 of SMARTI ( was other of the 30, it was really good for us sharing this experience together and a privilege to represent SMARTI there.

Networking with other MSCA fellows

Personally, I would like to say that I really liked to see how many dynamic and passionate people are actively involved in the MCAA alumni association and how many other activities you could work in to integrally grow during your PhD, I am very proud and grateful to have the opportunity to be a MSCA fellow. Do you know that there are 3 chapter in America? In United States, in Brazil and in Argentina. As I am costarican, it was interesting for me to know how big is this program. I came looking for something more than the scientific knowledge and definitely the MSCA grants are a wonderful opportunity to grow as researchers, as leaders, as people.

The activity also included a visit to the Airbus facilities, if you had the opportunity to go to Toulouse, you should definitely go there, it was very interesting to see how they work to make their airplanes and the different countries involved in the process.

Visit to Airbus

This is all for the moment, I hope you enjoyed the read, and as usual, if you want to know more about the next steps of my project, please stay tuned!

Keep in touch,


19 Jun 2018

4.4. Concepts: Previous Studies!

Hi friends,

I am happy to know that the community interested in learning with me about the MAMs is growing. I had more clicks in the last post! With that, I am sure that you are interested in understanding how MAMs can work in the roads! So, I am posting here the fourth slide:

As you can see, this slide continues with the reading of the paper: Development of mechanomutable asphalt binders for the construction of smart pavements ( 

The sketch explains how the magnetic particles help in the development of a healing effect (which is a secondary effect) in the material:

“…the movement of the particles under a constant magnetic field that endures over time could be used to heal the pavements that are manufactured with mechanomutable binders. In particular, if the particles are attracted by a magnetic source, their movement can induce the flow of the binder, and thus it could be used to repair the cracks appearing in the pavement …”

The self-healing is other characteristic that can help to identify the MAMs as smart materials. Similar to the work of the plateles in repairing the injuries in our body, the magnetic materials help in the process of repairing the cracks of the pavement.

Therefore, we are not just improving the performance of the roads during their service life, we are also making them last longer!

I am going to stop here this time, but I promise you all that as soon as I can, I am going to continue with the cycle of slides.  Please, stay tuned!

Keep in touch,


8 Jun 2018

4.3. Concepts: Previous Studies!

Hi friends,

This time I am going to start by saying thank you all for your support! During the last post, I had more visits on the blog and Social Network profiles! I really like to know that more people are starting to be interested in learning about MAM!

As I had tell you, I am trying to write you all more frequently with posts of one slide about simple concepts about this innovative technique, here the third one:

This slide contains a sketch of the paper: Development of mechanomutable asphalt binders for the construction of smart pavements. This paper is the first reference on the topic. Throught this document it is remarked the beginning of the complete research line created at LabIC.UGR to use magnetic fields in roads. If you are interested in read it completely, I invite you to download it at:

According to this paper: "the bituminous matrix of the Mechanomutable Asphalt Materials impedes the movement of the magnetic particles used, generating a stress field in the material that modifies its rheological properties (increasing modulus and decreasing the phase angle)”.

The main findings of the study are related to the capacity of MAMs to change its mechanical properties when it is needed:

“It has been demonstrated that these binders could increase in stiffness and perform elastically when they are activated by a magnetic field, even when they are exposed to high temperatures. In this case, two different phenomena could be responsible for this effect: a stress field generated in the binder due to the impeded movement of the magnetic particles (when the bituminous matrix is consistent enough to avoid this movement); and the creation of an internal structure composed of the particles that have moved and that remain aligned with the magnetic field (when the bituminous matrix allows the movement of the particles)”

After this two paragraphs we are starting to understand! Aren't we? So, I repeat my invitation to download the paper and to read it completely. If you have anything you would like to talk about it, please write in the line of comments, I will be more than happy to hear you!

Keep in touch,


29 May 2018

4.2. Concepts: Why MAMs?

Hi friends,

Continuing with the cycle of publications of one slide, I am attaching here the second one:

I want to tell you that this is part of an exercise I was working on last week during the second SMARTI ETN training at the University of Nottingham (where is based the SMARTI ETN project).

This time, the training was about Communication Skills. Therefore, the coordination team and some experts in the topic were teaching us about the use of digital tools for research, how to write successful scientific papers to get our research published, how to build our digital presence and in the middle of all of that: how to present in 3 minutes our project to an open audience (3MT).

3MT at Conferences room of the
3MT is a competition that was born at University of Queensland (Australia) and had been extended around different universities in the world. This activity helps to develop the communication and scientific diffusion skills of young researchers. Therefore the coordination team was encouraging us the last week to prepare our 3 minutes thesis presentation.

I should recognize that this activity was a challenge for me; I should improve in so many aspects. However, I should also recognize that through the looking for the challenge was the way that I arrive to the SMARTI ETN program. Where would be the learning if there is not a challenge in the way?!

This second slide comes from the development of this activity and I am going to explain it a little bit (I want to leave information for next posts).

The MAMs were born from the continuous necessity of roads engineers to develop new technology of materials to improve the performance of the roads the society constantly needs for communication and existence.

The traditional materials for roads have the problem to crack under low temperatures and high speeds of traffic, and to deform under high temperatures and slow speeds of traffic.

Therefore the MAMs are coming as a solution to this problem. MAMs are a new technology of smart materials (SMARTI ETN J). The MAMs can adapt its mechanical behaviour to the external physical conditions of the environment (weather and traffic), because they had been mechanically mutated to react to the forces of magnetic fields.

By controlling the magnetic fields engineers have the power to improve the performance of the roads, giving to them a longer service life.

This is all I am going to talk about the topic for the moment. I want to save information for other posts! Please stay tuned!

Keep in touch,


17 May 2018

4.1. Concepts: What is MAM?

Hi friends,

Today I am going to start with something new. As I had told you I have a grant supported by the Marie Curie actions for research, technological development and demonstration. A very important part of the work the Marie Curie fellows are called to do, it is to show the knowledge  they are receiving and developing during their PhD.

For this reason and also thinking about you, from today I am going to start with a cycle of publications of one slide with the basic concepts about the innovative technology I am working on.

If you want to share something with us (me and the entire community who is interested in this topic), please write it in the line of comments.

Here you have the first slide:

Keep in touch,


29 Apr 2018

3. Growing in an integral way!

Hi friends!

It is time to continue telling you about my experience as the ESR 14 of the SMARTI ETN program.

This time I want to talk about the opportunity to meet other PhD students from different universities in Europe. Even though I am just starting this journey and I am sure that I definitely am going to meet more people in my way, I would like to tell you about two events I had participated recently.

The first event is the 1st Winter School 2017. This activity was organized by the "Societa Italiana Infrastrutture Viarie" and the "Universita Politecnica Delle Marche". The 1st Winter School 2017 took place in Moena, Italy, from 17th to 20th of December, 2017. During that time, I had the opportunity to meet 22 PhD students from Italy, Serbia, Germany and France (and me representing Spain and Latinamerica).

Some of the PhD students of the 1st Winter School 2017
Sharing with the experts, 1st Winter School 2017
The 1st Winter School 2017 had the title: "Advances in Sustainable Asphalt Pavements". We received conferences from recognized professors from Europe and United States. For example, my supervisor, Professor Fernando Moreno-Navarro was teaching us about "Asphalt Mixtures Produced at Lower Temperatures: The experience of the University of Granada".

Part of the panel of professors

The second activity that I would like to talk about is the First Training Week of the SMARTI ETN. During that event I finally met the other PhD students of the program. As I told you all in my last post, we are 15 ESR who are working in different countries of Europe: France, United Kingdom, Italy, Denmark, Ireland and Spain.
1st SMARTI ETN Training Week

SMARTI ETN PhD students

The First Training Week was an activity to encourage us to develop interactive activities to meet each other and the SMARTI project we are involved in.

Experts from the University of Nottingham and the private sector were teaching us about materials engineering, pavements, railways, design and sustainability. Additionally, we received some training in developing skills to make presentations, ways to transference knowledge, project management and dissemination strategies.

After all of this, I should say that SMARTI ETN is a complete platform to integrally mold the researchers for the future. It is not just learning engineering, it is meeting people who can be the heads of the most recognized research centers in the future: other PhD students.

This journey is just starting, but I am really motivated to continue with this adventure! I hope this post can motivate you to want to know more about this! Maybe you can be the one who will be telling us your own story in three years!

Keep in touch,


6 Apr 2018

2. The 14th SMARTI ETN project

Hi everyone!

It is finally time to know what Mechanomutable Asphalt Materials (MAM) is about!
Let me start by telling you this is the 14th Research Project of the SMARTI (Sustainable Multi-functional Automated Resilient Transport Infrastructures) ETN Programme, which receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Programme under the Marie Curie-Skłodowska actions for research, technological development and demonstration. For more information about, you can visit
The 14th SMARTI ETN project is developed by me, Paulina Leiva-Padilla. I am from Costa Rica, I got my bachelor and master degree at the University of Costa Rica and then, I worked there at LanammeUCR (National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models of the University of Costa Rica, Now I am starting my PhD at the University of Granada, and working as the ESR14 of the SMARTI ETN with the LabIC.UGR work team (Laboratory of Construction Engineering of the University of Granada, My supervisors in this projects are: Dr. María del Carmen Rubio-Gamez and Dr. Fernando Moreno-Navarro.

Let me tell you a little bit about my project. First of all, my project aims to study a new material: Mechanomutable Asphalt Material (MAM). We can obtain a MAM once the conventional Asphalt Material (AM) had been mechanomutated (mechanically modified) through the incorporation of materials with magnetic properties to be transformed in a smart material. MAM has the ability to adapt their mechanical performance to the real changing load conditions that occurs during their service life.
Physics Laboratory at UGR
Therefore, to understand and properly develop this mechanomutation, I am starting to learn about magnetism with Dr. Guillermo Iglesias-Salto from the Physics Applied Department of the UGR ( I want to say that one of the best opportunities during the development of a SMARTI project, is the possibility to work with people from different specialties, in different departments of academy, industry and government, then, in next posts, I am going to talk about this part of the work, please stay tuned!

Keep in touch,