The 2012 Arne Richter Awards for Outstanding Young Scientists is awarded to Encarnación Ruiz-Agudo for her ground-breaking work on the structure of mineral surfaces, on fluid-mineral interaction and on the influence of organic and inorganic additives on the growth of crystals in multicomponent aqueous solutions.
The research of Encarnación Ruiz-Agudo focuses on the factors that control crystal growth in multicomponent aqueous solutions. Her research since her PhD (2008) has led her from an essentially empirical study of crystal growth inhibitors applied to prevention of salt damage in the stone-built cultural heritage, to an advanced stage of understanding the structure of mineral surfaces, fluid-mineral interaction and how organic and inorganic additives can modify water structure with consequent effects on crystal growth rates and minor element incorporation. The realisation that additives can have a strong influence on water structure and on the hydration and dehydration of ions involved in dissolution and precipitation opens a new perspective for predicting how specific additives control crystal growth. This work will have a very broad and important impact on aqueous geochemistry, both on fundamental understanding of unresolved fundamental problems such as mechanisms of incorporation of minor elements used as environmental proxies, as well as applications to prevention of salt crystallisation damage. Ruiz-Agudo’s research involves the use of many analytical techniques, which she has impressively mastered, such as AFM, SEM and TEM. Following undergraduate studies in chemical engineering, she did a PhD in the field of crystallography and mineralogy at the University of Grenada followed by a Marie-Curie post-doc at the University of Münster. Recipient of a prestigious Ramon y Cahal Fellowship, she currently holds a research position at her home university. Her research is characterized by her lively scientific curiosity, her extremely careful attention to experimental work and to the meaning and significance of her results, as well as her thorough knowledge of her subject. Ruiz-Agudo has an excellent publication record and has been a regular contributor, as a speaker and convener, to EGU meetings.