Ruben Alvarez-Fernandez

I started my degree in Biology in 1996, at the University of Oviedo. After two years I started my specialisation in Biotechnology, and finished my degree in 2000. During that time I realised that the best way of pursuing my interests in Botany, Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Genetics was by combining them. Thus, I walked into Plant Physiology and Biotechnology, and started my PhD. I worked for two years in hops biotechnology in collaboration with a company, acquiring tissue culture-related skills (protoplast culture, cell culture, organogenesis and genetic transformation). Then I moved into cork oak biotechnology, and finished my PhD with a Thesis on cork oak genetic transformation. That was a milestone in my career. Efforts had been done by other groups using zygotic embryos, not true-to-type to their parent plants. However I used somatic embryos derived from leaves, and therefore mine was the first report of a protocol to genetically modify adult cork oak while preserving its genotype of interest. During this period I strengthened my background in genetic transformation and further developed my tissue culture skills. After that, I joined a short project on manipulating the life cycle of Streptomyces for commercial applications, including antibiotic production. Here I acquired skills on microbiology and protein activity assays, and developed my interest in applied science. Then I moved back into my career line in plants, and joined a project aimed to understand the molecular and physiological basis of the response of Eucalyptus to drought. The goal was very applied: to find molecular markers for marker-assisted selection or water-stress tolerant plants. During this period I acquired experience in physiological analysis, reversed-phase chromatography, HPLC, radioimmunoassay, field work, organisational and planning skills, and worked with large amounts of data. Very importantly, it was my first real postdoctoral position. Therefore I was responsible of a research line and its integration with the rest of the project. Next I moved abroad, with the aim of further acquire skills. I chose the UK to gain fluency in English, a key factor in my career, and I chose the Molecular Evolution lab at the University of Cambridge to gain expertise in molecular biology. I was awarded with a fellowship that allowed me to work at the lab for two years. In that time I developed my engaging and communication skills, I became fluent in English, I acquired further teaching experience by demonstrating and supervising undergraduate students, and established collaborations with important groups. I also obtained a strong background in molecular biology and scanning electron microscopy, and managed my research project in collaboration with my supervisor. Finally, for one year I explored the publishing aspect of Science, working for Elsevier Ltd. During this time I very strongly developed my organisational skills, working remotely. I managed large databases of concepts as Scientific Curator (Molecular Biology Expert), revised book chapters dealing with authors when necessary, and contributed to the publishing of a book on Molecular and Cell Biology Methods (Methods Navigator). My current interest is, after having acquired a strong background and a range of skills, establish my own research line in plants. I look forward to produce applied science of commercial interest.

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Latest work with IntechOpen by Ruben Alvarez-Fernandez

Weeds severely affect crop quality and yield. Therefore, successful farming relies on their control by coordinated management approaches. Among these, chemical herbicides are of key importance. Their development and commercialization began in the 1940's and they allowed for a qualitative increase in crop yield and quality when it was most needed. This book blends review chapters with scientific studies, creating an overview of some the current trends in the field of herbicides. Included are environmental studies on their toxicity and impact on natural populations, methods to reduce herbicide inputs and therefore overall non-target toxicity, and the use of bioherbicides as natural alternatives.

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