Gamechangers: ESRs of WP3 works on residual matrix valorization

Hello all,

We are the researchers of Work Package 3 (WP3) of the SOCRATES project working on ‘Residual matrix valorization’. In today’s business-as-usual setting, a low-grade, solid or slurry, industrial-process residue remains after the recovery of the valuable metals. This solid residue is normally stored in tailing ponds, landfilled or, at best, the coarse fractions are used as an additive in concrete. In SOCRATES this approach is challenged. In WP1 and WP2 the critical and economically important metals that are present in the investigated tailings, sludges, slags and ashes are extracted and recovered, thereby leaving behind residual mineral matrices. In WP3, we will develop three complementary applications from these residuals as supplementary cementitious materials with calcium aluminate binders, and/or, iron-rich inorganic polymers, and/or heterogeneous catalysts.
Below you will find more information about two of the three ESRs of the WP3. The recruitment of our the last colleagues is ongoing – we hope to welcome him/her soon in our work package!

Christina Siakati

Christina Siakati

Hello all!
My name is Christina Siakati (ESR12) and I am from Greece. I grew up in a beautiful small village, called Emporio, situated near Kozani in north Greece. There I spent all my school years, till I went to university. As long as I remember, I had a special interest in physics and maths. From a very young age, I knew that I wanted to be a researcher. During the last year of high school, I confirmed my feelings about it.

My teacher in physics used to deliver the course by writing on the board using many chalks of different colors. One day, I was staring at that colorful board thinking that it was like a painting, and in that very same moment, the teacher looked at us, pointing at the board and said: ‘‘If someone can imagine this board as a painting, he is qualified for this job’’. I was really shocked because it felt like he was reading my mind. I was sure that I wanted to be a physicist! And I became one!!!

After high school, I moved to a bigger city where I studied Physics at the University of Ioannina in Ioannina. During my studies, the most appealing courses were the ones in the field of experimental and applied physics, more precisely in solid state physics and materials science. Holding onto this thought, I decided to focus on solid state physics for my bachelor thesis and fostered my knowledge in this field by pursuing a MSc degree in Basic Physics with an emphasis on structural, electronic and magnetic properties of solids.

I was (and still am) really passionate about most of the subjects I have studied and I finished both my degrees with flying colors. Currently, I am doing my PhD within the EU MSCA-ETN SOCRATES project at Materials Engineering department of KU Leuven in Belgium. I belong to the research group of Secondary Resources for Engineered Materials (SREMat) coordinated by the Associate Professor Yiannis Pontikes. My research topic is: ’’Iron-rich inorganic polymers derived from residual matrices’’, deepening the knowledge of the structure and formation mechanism of Fe-rich inorganic polymers, following both experimental and computational approaches.

Finally, I would like to share with you a quote of Aristotle which is the motto of my academic life:
‘’The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet’’

If you are interested in my topic and you wish to learn more about it, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me at

Geia sas!

Ioannis Nikolopoulos

Ioannis Nikolopoulos

I am Ioannis Nikolopoulos (ESR13). I was born on 15th September 1989 in the second most beautiful city of Greece Patra, the first one is Thessaloniki for sure. I have one brother, who is a Material Scientist. I graduated in 2014 from the Department of Chemistry, University of Patras. During the last year in University, I joined the Greek Army as a Military Policeman for 9 months, which is mandatory in Greece. In November 2014, I started doing my Master in the laboratory of Heterogeneous catalysis in the Department of Chemistry of the University of Patras. The goal of my research was to synthesize and characterize nickel supported catalysts for the transformation of already cooked oils to Green Diesel. Now, I started my doctoral studies at the University of Utrecht (Group of inorganic chemistry and catalysis) under the supervision of Dr. Gareth Whiting and Prof. Bert Weckhuysen.

My biggest passion is basketball, as I played in a local team for 8 years! When I don’t play basketball, I like reading detective novels and watching TV series. My favorite fictional character is definitely Sherlock Holmes and his “Science of Deduction” inspired me in many ways in my life.

But what do basketball, detectives and research have in common. The answer is TARGET. By changing the way you and others see the target you always try to reach the goal. This is why I am excited about research and every day in the lab is a totally new experience!

If you are interested in my topic and you wish to learn more about it, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me at


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