I am Konstantina, and my academic venture so far can be thought as a beam, whose trajectory, and property, are changing along its journey. The ray originated in Athens where, as the focus of my Master’s degree in Nuclear Physics, I bombarded natural Hf with neutron beams for reaction cross section measurements. Trading off neutron for laser beams, in 2017 I joined Stavros Lab Group as a PhD student , with my project’s title being “A Structure Dynamics Function Approach to Sunscreen Design”. In largely simpler terms this means, “Shoot laser beams at sunscreen molecules, see what happens”, and -truthfully- I couldn’t be happier about it!
In a bit more detail about my PhD project, I am interested in the photochemical and photophysical mechanisms that come into play upon ultraviolet (UV) irradiation. By using ultrafast laser spectroscopy, in my current work I investigate the dynamics of the distinct molecular relaxation pathways for two separate types of molecules. The first type are UV-absorbers (methyl anthranilate and homosalate) that are utilized as UV-blockers in commercially available sunscreens. The second type are biomolecule building blocks (pyrrole and pyrrole aldehyde), owing to their important role in biological photoprotection processes such as, e.g response to DNA damage by UV radiation.
On my spare time I enjoy being an elementary school teacher at the Greek School of Coventry, as well as cooking, baking and eating!