Célia Fonseca Guerra appointed Professor of Supramolecular Quantum Biochemistry

Célia Fonseca Guerra has been appointed Professor of Supramolecular Quantum Biochemistry at Vrije Universiteit, Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, effective February 1, 2018.

02/26/2018 | 2:11 PM

Célia Fonseca Guerra is a theoretical chemist with an interest in supramolecular and biochemical processes. She is an expert in the quantum chemical theory of weak intermolecular interactions with applications in molecular recognition and artificial supramolecular aggregates. With the quantum chemical models she has developed, it is possible to establish the mechanism and underlying physical factors behind biological and pharmacological activity or (bio)molecular self-organisation, also in cases which are inaccessible to experimental techniques.

Fonseca Guerra’s research focusses on situations in which a correct description of intermolecular forces requires a quantum chemical treatment. Pertinent topics are molecular recognition through strong hydrogen bonds, but also halogen bonding and coordination bonding in bioinorganic chemical processes. Research lines include the role of metal ions in DNA, proteins, and other biological systems. One aspect of her work that Fonseca Guerra is particularly proud of, is that it has led to paradigm switches of fundamental textbook knowledge (cf. telomere stability or stability rules for multiply hydrogen bonded aggregates).

Westerdijk Talent Scheme

On 10 February 2017, it was exactly 100 years ago that the first female professor, Johanna Westerdijk, was appointed in the Netherlands. Now in 2017, women fill just 18% of professorships in the Netherlands. Unless additional measures are taken, an equal male-female ratio among professors in the Netherlands will not be achieved until 2054. As an extra boost to ensure that all scientific talent in the Netherlands is utilized, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science has decided to make a one-off sum of 5 million euros available for the appointment of 100 female professors. With this extra investment in the ‘Westerdijk year’, universities will be encouraged to make greater efforts to increase the number of female professors over and beyond the target figures that they have set for themselves for 2020.