ESR1 - Aleksandra Zawadka


"Hello! I am Aleksandra Zawadka, Marie Curie Fellow from Poland, people just call me Ola! I am a scientist with a big interest in how chemistry shapes our lives. During my scientific journey, bachelor and master studies in chemistry, Erasmus program in Spain, and working at the center of chemical technology in Catalonia, I got to know a lot of concepts about innovative and significant advances in the field of polymers, chemistry, and technology. Being involved in SAMCAPS program was on top of my priority list. Why? Because it is exciting, stimulating, lucrative and effective. Traveling and living over the last two years between the two countries has taught me that everyone regardless of origin strives for one, to make our life better. This is only possible through scientific progress. I totally believe that cooperation between industry and academic sector will allow me to create the new generation materials that will be applicable in everyday life products and in the same time being eco-friendly for the environment, where I spend most of my free time."


Aleksandra is a 27-year-old Chemistry graduate from Poland. Her expertise includes the most common instrumental techniques for the characterization of chemical and colloidal systems (GC-MS, UV-Vis, TEM, SEM, FTIR, NMR, DSC, contact angle...) as well as polymer synthesis. In SAMCAPS, she focuses on the development of a library of amphiphilic polymers with tailored structures, able to respond to external stimuli and thus function on demand, to encapsulate and release the desired compounds in the target environment under the right stimuli.

The first part of her work involves amphiphilic graft copolymers that CSGI has been investigating over the last 5 years. This research led to the finding that the formation of self-assembled capsules was driven by the presence of precise quantities of non-ionic surfactants. The goal is to improve the library of polymers with such phase behavior, by improving the environmental footprint of the polymer itself and, secondly, expanding the formulation space of self-assembled capsules, i.e., providing more flexibility for water levels and types of surfactant.
The research follows these steps:
1) literature search for commercially available polymers;
2) synthesis of polymeric materials in the cases where they were available and/or chemical modification of polymers as in point 1;
3) characterization of both sets of polymers to be used for soft capsules by ESR2 and ESR3 and for increased water resistance capsules by ESR2 and ESR4;
4) asses the biodegradability of such polymers.


Aleksandra is enrolled in the University of Siena (Italy), where she has begun her PhD studies at the local CSGI unit in December 2018. Here, commercially available and new amphiphilic block copolymers are being chemically modified and synthesized ex novo, respectively. Innovative strategies will be explored to produce materials that possess optimal biodegradability, while maintaining high mechanical resistance. In the modified or new amphiphilic copolymers, hydrophobic chains of different length and composition will be bound to a hydrophilic portion based on polar moieties (polyethylene glycol, polyethylene imine, polysaccharides, polyvinyl alcohol, etc.) in both linear and complex architectures such as comb, graft, star and hyperbranched, to find out the best structures for the polymers to selfassemble in the desired formulations. Examples of hydrophobic moieties could be, for instance, polyvinyl acetate, polypropylene oxide, polyesters. The best polymers sourced from this work will be tested for biodegradability. These studies will be performed under specific temperature cycles, light, pH, humidity and microbiological conditions on the basis of the foreseen application.

After 18 months in CSGI, Aleksandra will move to the P&G Brussels Innovation Center in Belgium, where she will be trained in polymer design for detergent application, as well as in the synthesis and IP landscape of current polymer technologies used in detergents. The ESR will also be trained in modeling approaches to simulate polymer behavior in surfactant-rich environments, especially around the self-assembly of polymer in the detergent formulation. This will allow her to work proactively with the P&G modelling team and thus to virtually design new and better materials by developing a rational polymer design approach. She will also try to understand the IP landscape and the feasibility of scale-up of current industrial polymers to make sure the polymer design fits with new innovative space and can be commercialized.