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,