The National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth) frequently partners with professors, students, industry professionals, K-12 teachers, and postdoctoral associates for nanoscience advancement. Recently, NanoEarth sponsored Ivonne González-Gamboa, Ph.D. to present her research at the TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo.

Ivonne Gonzales-Gamboa at TechConnect
Ivonne González-Gamboa presents at TechConnect
Ivonne Gonzales-Gamboa at TechConnect
Ivonne González-Gamboa with the Student Leaders Conference participants at TechConnect

González-Gamboa spent her time as a Material Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) Postdoctoral Fellow in the Steinmetz Lab of the NanoEngineering Department of the University of California at San Diego (UC San Diego) researching the effectiveness of pesticide delivery. Specifically, the lab researches the use of pesticide delivery via degradable protein-based nanoparticles to target nematodes that contribute to crop loss. This will eventually lead to more sustainable pest control methods in agriculture.

This project on “Nanoparticle Embedded Pesticides for Reduced Environmental Toxicity” won first place and the Diversity Award at the 2023 National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) Nanotechnology Entrepreneurship Challenge (NTEC). NanoEarth’s Multicultural and Underserved Nanoscience Initiative (MUNI) sponsored her travels to TechConnect, where she presented her research and met with NNCI personnel across all 16 sites. The NTEC experience has inspired her to bridge academia and industry, promoting entrepreneurship to her students. She is extremely grateful to the Program Manager for Education and Outreach Programs at Qualcomm Institute Department, UC San Diego, and Director of Education and Outreach at San Diego Nanotechnology Infrastructure (SDNI), Yves Theriault, Ph.D., PMP, and NanoEarth’s Associate Director for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Matthew Hull, PhD. for their insight and assistance throughout the program.

Ivonne González-Gamboa and advisors
Ivonne González-Gamboa with her NTEC advisors Yves Theriault and Manual Martinez
Ivonne Gonzales-Gamboa with NTEC Award
Ivonne González-Gamboa with her NTEC award

Ivonne González-Gamboa fell in love with science at a young age. Inspired at age five when her father gave her a toy microscope, she instantly knew she wanted to research tiny and unseen particles. With encouragement from her parents, she pursued her passion for nanoscience with a Bachelor’s in Biotechnology Engineering from Tecnológico de Monterrey in Monterrey, Mexico. She then studied Neuropedagogy, to learn the best way for students to understand science.

González-Gamboa’s experience led to a fellowship from the Spanish government to study plant viral nanoparticles at a Plant Biotechnology Center in Madrid, Spain. While in Spain, she pursued a Master’s in Agrobiotechnology at the Polytechnic University of Madrid and a Ph.D. in Plant Molecular Biology and Nanobiotechnology under Fernando Ponz, Ph.D. Her research included engineering virus nanoparticles in agriculture and biomedical applications.

Returning full circle, González-Gamboa returned to the Tecnológico de Monterrey to work in the Alvarez Trujillo Lab as a postdoctoral associate. She fabricated nanostructured hydrogels for tissue engineering applications using viral nanoparticles. This interest in nanoparticles and problem solving led to her most recent MRSEC postdoctoral fellowship in the Steinmetz Lab at UC San Diego, studying the sustainable delivery of pesticides for crop protection.

Ivonne Gonzales-Gamboa in Lab
Ivonne Gonzales-Gamboa in Lab

Recently, González-Gamboa started as an Assistant Teaching Professor at UC San Diego in the Molecular Biology Department. She has taught K-12 and mentored college students throughout her career. One focus will be introducing students to bioentrepreneurship and how it blends with academia. She believes every student should have the knowledge to manage their own intellectual property from the lab to the market.

González-Gamboa spends her free time reading at the beach and coffee shops. She enjoys singing, playing guitar, watching movies, and hosting game nights. Her advice to current students includes asking questions, collaborating with peers, and networking. She encourages students to consider the ethics of their research and find the right work-life balance.