Meet the People: Helena Butkiewicz

Foto of Helena Butkiewicz.
For me, as a young scientist, it is extremely important to present the results of my studies in a refreshing form, using colours and hand-drawn pictures.

Helena Butkiewicz presented her fascinating research about Crystal strucutres of host-guest complexes of carboxylated pillar[5]arene with drugs at the 30th DGK conference and won one of the Lightning Talk Award sponsored by STOE. Her amazing presentation is part of her PhD studies under the supervision of Oksana Danylyuk at the Institute of Physical Chemistry Polish Academy of Sciences. Helena has a master’s degree in Chemical Technology of the Warsaw University of Technology.

In addition to her PhD studies, she is also a populariser of science, a member of a foundation that supports people with chronic diseases, and she is currently the secretary of the Young Crystallographers group within the European Crystallographic Association (ECA). She is a very open-minded, cheerful and creative person.

Poster of Helena Butkiewicz

Poster from Helena Butkiewicz.

When did your interest in guet-host complexes start?

During my engineering studies, I had a obligatory internship outside the University. I don’t remember why, but I insisted on doing it in the Institute of Physical Chemistry. Having no contacts at all, I wrote an e-mail to all the lab managers at the Institute. One of them, dealing with crystalline host-guest complexes, wrote back to me. During this internship, I met my current supervisor, with whom I did research for both my engineering and master’s thesis, too. All of them are based on host-guest complexes in their crystal form. If you want to read something about it, here are my three latest articles, related to my PhD thesis:

  • H. Butkiewicz, S. Kosiorek, V. Sashuk, M. Zimnicka, O. Danylyuk: Inclusion of Pentamidine in Carboxylated Pillar[5]arene: Late Sequential Crystallization and Diversity of Host–Guest Interactions, Cryst. Growth Des. (2022) DOI: 10.1021/acs.cgd.1c01201
  • H. Butkiewicz, V. Sashuk, O. Danylyuk: Incorporation of carboxylated pillar[5]arene and strontium(ii) into supramolecular coordination complexes of different nuclearities, CrystEngComm, 23 3265-3269 (2021) DOI: 10.1039/D1CE00334H
  • H. Butkiewicz, S. Kosiorek, V. Sashuk, O. Danylyuk: Unveiling the structural features of the host–guest complexes of carboxylated pillar[5]arene with viologen derivatives, CrystEngComm, 23 1075-1082 (2021) DOI: 10.1039/D0CE01579B

For first and the third one I designed the covers by myself.

How does your typical working day look like?

There are two most important things at the beginning of the day: walk with my dog and coffee with my teammates. Without it, I know the coming day will not be a good one. After some chit-chat about the latest research ideas (of course!) I go to my regular tasks, like processing data, solving and refining some structures, writing a doctoral thesis or looking for some post-doc positions, that I’ll be able to take in a few months. So, you know, I’m open for offers.

You can find me on LinkedIn or via e-mail.

What was the biggest difficulty you faced during your work/thesis?

During my PhD studies I had two surgeries. Both were pretty serious and required quite a long recovery. The hardest thing was to come back and start working again, as well as to continue studies that had been carried out earlier. Fortunately, I had great support from my supervisor and colleagues, thanks to whom this most difficult period turned out to be not so bad.