María del Mar Contreras obtained the Bachelor Degree in Environmental Sciences at the University of Jaen, 2003. In 2005, she got a predoctoral grant (CSIC I3P) for working at the Inst. of Industrial Fermentations (IFI, CSIC) in Madrid. Her doctoral Thesis was supervised by Dr. I. Recio and L. Amigo obtaining the PhD degree in Food Science and Technology, with the highest score (Autonomous Univ. of Madrid) (2010). She also was awarded with a research fellowship from Danone Inst. (2009-2010) and contracted by a food company (4 months) to continue her research studies at the Inst. of Food Science Research (CIAL, UAM-CSIC, Madrid). After this period, she got a Juan de la Cierva contract (2012-2014) and a postdoc contract (Proyecto de Excelencia) (2014-2015) to join the Dep. of Analytical Chemistry, Univ. of Granada (UGR). Currently, she works at the Univ. of Cordoba (Dep. of Analytical Chemistry) (UCO), collaborating with Prof. L. Arce.
- In IFI, she learnt about peptides analysis from milk proteins with biological properties: casein phosphopeptides, antihypertensive and antioxidant peptides. Her research involved the characterization of proteins, enzymatic hydrolysis, purification (using ultrafiltration and semi-preparative liquid chromatography (LC)), identification of peptides by mass spectrometry (MS), and bioactivity testing in vitro. Moreover, she also applied statistical tools to optimize enzymatic hydrolysis, common technological processes in dairy industry, and sensory analysis applied to formulate new functional ingredients and evaluate the stability of bioactive peptides. These investigations were complemented with in vitro absorption studies on allergen proteins and bioactive peptides using epithelial cell lines.
- In UGR, she faced a new challenge: the optimization of MS-based methodologies to evaluate the metabolism of phenolic compounds in cell cultures and human biological fluids. For that, advanced analytical techniques, including miniaturized LC coupled to MS, and sophisticated processing data software were used. In this period, other key research topics were the characterization of phytochemicals, such as phenolic compounds and alkaloids, in medicinal plants, plant foods (fruits, vegetables, and legumes) and their by-products, as well as the standardization plants extracts with bioactive properties to formulate new functional foods/nutraceuticals.
- In UCO, she is currently involved in several contracts with the industry to develop volatolomic approaches for the classification of olive oils using gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (IMS).
She has been actively involved in teaching activities, including several subjects of bachelor degrees (UGR), specialization (UGR) and PhD-courses (UAM) and a master degree (UCO), as well as in educational seminars at several Universities from Jordan and “Universitat Rovira i Virgili”. These tasks have been complemented with the participation in one project, publications and courses about innovation in teaching and learning.
She has collaborated in several research contracts to transfer analytical methodologies to olive oil and pharmaceutical industries. She is also co-author of two patents; one of them was licensed by a biotechnology industry.
Experience in other universities
- Spanish centres: of Industrial Fermentations and Inst. of Food Science Research of CSIC in Madrid, Univ. of Granada, Functional Food Research and Development Centre (CIDAF) in Granada, Centre of the Inst. of Bioengineering of Catalonia and the Univ. of Barcelona.
International centres: Institute of Food Research (UK) and University of Jordan.