Ramón y Cajal researcher

Researcher affiliated at CRETUS (Cross-disciplinary Research Center in Environmental Technologies)

GEMAP (GI-1243). Departamento de Edafoloxía e Química Agrícola
Facultade de Farmacia. Pavillón A - Soto. Campus Vida
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela (USC)
15782 Santiago de Compostela (A Coruña)
Ph. : +34 881814984
email: patricia.sanmartin@usc.es 

Scopus Author ID: 26534910200 
Web of Science Researcher ID: I-2669-2015


Editor of the Collection "Conservation of Cultural Artefacts against Microbial Deterioration" published in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology. WoS-JCR journal.

Associate Editor of Trabajos de Geología.

Editorial Board Member of Int. Biodeterior. Biodegradation. WoS-JCR journal.

Editorial Board Member of Coatings. WoS-JCR journal.

Editorial Board Member of AIMS Microbiology. WoS-ESCI journal.

Editorial Board Member of Heritage. WoS-ESCI journal.

Guest Editor of Sci. Total Environ. S.I.: "Biofilm ecology and biodeterioration of stone monuments and historic buildings". WoS-JCR journal.

Reviewer of Spanish Journal of Soil Science. WoS-ESCI journal.

Review Editor for Terrestrial Microbiology and Systems Microbiology - Front. Microbiol. WoS-JCR journal.


  Research Experience

My major research interests include stone microbiology, biofilm at the stone/air interface, bioreceptivity and the development of innovative environmental technologies aimed at managing, assessing and mitigating natural and human impacts on stone resources. My research activity has mainly been developed at the Universities of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Alicante (2008 and 2009), Milan (2010, 2012 and 2015), Harvard (2013-2014) and Oxford (2019).

I started conducting research in the field of cultural heritage conservation science with contemporary art materials in collaboration with the Galician Centre of Contemporary Art (CGAC) under a Research Collaboration Grant, MEC (2003-2004), at the Dept. Physical Chemistry (USC), then with materials for protecting and consolidating heritage stone under a Third-Cycle Research Fellow, Xunta de Galicia (2006-2007), at the Dept. Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry (USC).

During my PhD studies (2007-2012) as an FPI researcher at the Dept. Soil Science and Agr. Chem. (USC), I undertook extensive research on the early detection of damage based on the quantitative determination of colour of biological colonization on stone, with special focus on granite, to obtain further knowledge about the development of subaerial biofilms (SABs). I completed three grant-supported doctoral research stays at the universities of Alicante (2008 and 2009) and Milan (2010), broadening my knowledge of heritage microbiology and biofilms and optical technologies applied to cultural heritage. Studied a variety of cases mostly involving cyanobacteria, pioneering organisms on lithic substrates. The studies have greatly advanced the understanding of the role of different environmental parameters on SAB formation. My PhD thesis (cum laude with European Doctor Mention) is a compendium of eleven papers, which received the Extraordinary PhD Award (with the highest score) from the Faculty of Pharmacy, USC, and the Best PhD dissertation in Science and Technology Research Prize awarded by the County Council of Pontevedra.

In 2012, I was accepted for a research stay at Harvard University, selected as a Barrié Foundation Research Fellow and awarded a postdoctoral contract from the Xunta de Galicia. Between 2012 and 2015, I worked at Harvard University and the University of Milan, with Prof. Ralph Mitchell and Prof. Francesca Cappitelli, as Principal Investigator (PI) on the BIOREMOGRAF project, aimed at developing a complete methodology for using microorganisms to remove graffiti from construction materials, and have published pioneering studies in this field. My studies remain the only ones obtaining successful results regarding the bioremoval of graffiti. For this work I received the Best Professional Career Award at the 3rd Meeting of Young Researchers Abroad (INIBIC).

participated in the COST action ‘COSCH-Colour and Space in Cultural Heritage’ between 2012 and 2016. In mid-2015, I returned to the USC with a one-year contract for return from the Xunta de Galicia, then under a Juan de la Cierva-Incorporation contract and later a postdoctoral contract from the Xunta de Galicia. During this most recent period (2016-2019), I began research on the effect of public lighting on the biological colonization of the built heritage, working as PI on developing lighting-based strategies to control biological colonization and to manage the chromatic integration of biofouling at laboratory scale (LIGHT4HERITAGE project).

In July 2019, I received the I3 Certificate - awarded for an outstanding research track record by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities. A year earlier, I had received the Galician counterpart certification by the criteria described in BOE-A-2005-14601 from the ACSUG (Agency for Quality Assurance in the Galician University System).

In autumn 2019, I was an Academic Visitor in the School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford. This allowed me to begin to develop a new research line on Biological Cultural Heritage (BCH), as well as to work intensely on the bioreceptivity concept with Prof. Heather Viles. In January 2020, I was awarded a DAAD grant for research stays in Germany to work with Prof. Anna Gorbushina that I had to decline due to the COVID-19 crisis.

I am the Scientific Director of the CROMALUX project: Third SMARTIAGO Challenge - Smart lighting system for Heritage Conservation, an innovative Public Procurement project with European funds, with a first phase of research within the Innovative Public Procurement -CPI- tender (2020-2022) and a second phase of research within the conservation and maintenance plan of the proposal (2022-2024), awarded €613,581.43.

In August 2021, I was selected as a Ramón y Cajal researcher (2020 call), scoring 99.20 out of 100 and ranking position number four on the general list (with 26 granted) for the area of Environmental Science and Technology (CTM) and position number one in the sub-area of Environmental Technologies (CTM-TECNO).

In June 2022, the BIOXEN project: BIOcleaning of XENobiotic materials in granite stone heritage (PID2021-123329NA-I00), of which I am the PI, was granted funding (€121,000.00) by the Spanish State Agency for Research. In September 2022, the FONTES project: Optimization of surrounding vegetation factors and ornamental lighting to reduce biodeterioration in artistic-historic fountains (ED431F 2022/14), of which I am the PI, was granted funding (€115,000.00) by the Xunta de Galicia.


  Teaching Experience (as Lecturer and Supervisor) 

I have solid experience in teaching subjects related to environmental science,geology and soil science, with 723 hours of teaching at BSc and MSc levels, in the Teaching Organization Plan (POD): area 240 Edafología y Química Agrícola, University of Santiago de Compostela. I have obtained 4 very good accredited ratings (score 4.87 - 4.58, out of 5) and 4 good accredited ratings (score 4.28 - 3.73, out of 5) in the students’ assessment of teachers.

I have been conceded teaching merits (Quinqueniosfrom the University of Santiago de Compostela (01/01/2023) for the 2 five-year teaching periods completed (from 01/09/2007 to 29/04/2014 and from 30/04/2014 to 29/09/2022).

I have received the accreditation from ANECA required for the position of Associate Professor, as Profesor Contratado Doctor in July 2013 and Profesor Titular de Universidad in July 2021.

I have supervised 10 Masters theses and 10 End-of-course projects in Italy and Spain, 4 Erasmus+ and an external academic practices student, contracted 3 postdoctoral research assistants and 3 PhD assistants. I am currently co-supervising 4 PhD students.

I have also acted twice as president, twice as ordinary member and once as external examiner on the examination boards of 5 PhD theses.