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Dr Santi Nonell, the First ICREA Researcher at IQS

Interview with Dr Santi Nonell, tenured professor at the IQS School of Engineering and the university’s first researcher to form part of the ICREA Academia community for excellence in research at Catalan universities.

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Dr Santi Nonell, a tenured professor at the IQS School of Engineering and the coordinator of the Applied Photobiological Chemistry (AppLightChem) research group, has been recognized for his excellent work as a researcher in the 14th edition of the ICREA Academia programme in the “Experimental Sciences & Maths” area. Together with Dr María Giné from the Faculty of Psychology, Education Sciences, and Sports at Blanquerna, they are the first two ICREA researchers at Ramon Llull  University (URL). This year is the first time in which the URL has participated in the programme.

The ICREA Academia programme was founded in 2008 with the goal of promoting and rewarding excellence in research conducted by professors from universities in Catalonia. The programme thus contributes to intensifying the research carried out by university professors who are at a fully active stage in their career and looking to expand their research horizons. Selection into the ICREA Academic programme includes a five-year research grant.

ICREA researchers form a dynamic community of scientists and researchers from all areas of knowledge who contribute to the progress of humanity with their studies, interpretations, and questions. The grants are awarded based on criteria of excellence including: the candidate’s publications and their importance; the projects that the candidate leads or has led and their leadership capacity; international visibility; and their research plan, among others.

Interview with Dr. Santi Nonell 

What does earning this recognition mean to you?

I’m really happy and appreciative. I’m truly excited! On the one hand, I’m happy for the recognition given to my professional career, and proud to be able to form part of the ICREA community, the leading group of researchers par excellence in Catalonia. On the other hand, I’m appreciative and excited by the possibilities to advance in more ambitius research thanks to the ICREA grant.

“I feel proud to form part of the leading group of researchers par excellence in Catalonia”

What would you highlight about the experts’ decision when choosing new members?

They highly value research capacity, which is reflected in the candidate’s professional career, but also the research proposal submitted, always on the basis of excellence in research.
ICREA grants are highly competitive. This year, 231 candidacies were submitted and 40 grants were awarded, two of which are for professors from Ramon Lllull University, which participated in the call for grants for the first time this year.


Apart from scientific recognition, is this an important grant in terms of funding?

Yes, it’s very important! The ICREA recognition comes with a five-year grant to incentivize the researcher to dedicate themselves further to research tasks and to be able to hire professors who take on part of the teaching tasks.

What does it represent for you in the future?

The ICREA grant will allow me to spend more time on my research, following the lines of the AppLightChem group, while also incorporating new, more ambitious lines of research. This future challenge is highly important for me. I’m aiming to achieve research goals that I have not been able to until now, such as projects that require a lot of dedication, in particular European projects. Now’s the time to go for it… I’m thrilled!
This grant is not a career capstone. I take it to mean that I have reached this point in order to do even more ambitious scientific research. I have this five-year window to be able to go “all out.”.

“This grant will help me to do even more ambitious scientific research”

How do you feel as the first ICREA professor at IQS?
I feel a little bit like a “big brother” who is blazing the trail. I want to be the first of many and, in the future, I hope that other highly dedicated IQS researchers striving for excellence in research can also receive the ICREA grant. IQS boasts an extraordinary research staff!
Together with Dr María Giné, I’m really excited for us to be the first URL researchers to receive the ICREA Academia grant. It is the beginning of a new era. I’ve been fighting for this for years and I want to clearly state my appreciation to the vice rectors of research at the URL and IQS for all the support I’ve received throughout the years.

“I hope that this ICREA Academia grant opens a new path and that it is the first of many grants that other IQS and URL researchers will receive.”


Santi Nonell Marrugat, PhD

Head of APPLIGHTCHEM Group - Professor - ICREA Academia




Applied Photobiological Chemistry

School of Engineering

Applied Photobiological Chemistry

Specialised research in biomedical applications (antimicrobial resistance with phototherapy) and development of theragnostics in the diagnosis and treatment of tumours.