Martina works as a chemist, developing materials that are ionic conductors to be used as solid electrolytes. To obtain these kinds of materials, she performs chemical reactions starting from commercial raw materials that are produced in the salt flats of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina (lithium carbonate and its derivatives). These materials are characterized using physical and chemical techniques (such as spectroscopies, X-ray diffraction, microscopies, etc.) and their final properties (textural, structural, electrical and mechanical properties) are evaluated.
In her routine work, Martina is moved by several questions: Who profits from the knowledge that she and her colleagues generate in the public labs? How can this knowledge interact with society in the context of a planetary energetic crisis? How are chemists related to the materials with which they work?
Her contribution to the WOL project arises from those questions and the tensions that appear between her laboratory work, the socio-environmental consequences of lithium extraction in South America, and the energy paradigm that is imposed globally, where lithium technologies appear as the great promise of the future. From the laboratory and through interdisciplinary dialogue with the PI of WOL Cristobal Bonelli, she problematizes scientific activity, its impact on society, and the relation with materials extracted from nature that are generally presented as reagents with no past and no history.
Martina’s field of research is located in chemistry laboratories, mainly laboratories where lithium-based materials with applications in batteries are developed. Currently, her permanent position is in the Argentinian Ceramic and Mineral Resources Technology Center (CETMIC). It is a public laboratory belonging to the National University of La Plata, the Scientific Research Commission of the Province of Buenos Aires (CICPBA), and the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET) of Argentina.
It is worth mentioning that Argentina is one of the countries of the so-called “Lithium Triangle”. While huge multinational companies perform the extraction of lithium carbonate, more than 30 research groups in the whole country carry out basic and applied research in public universities, and no connection between this knowledge and the extractive activity is established nor taken into account in the public policies concerning “the lithium problem” in Argentina.
Throughout her career, Martina had the opportunity to visit and work in other labs of South America and Europe, gaining with those experiences a broader perspective on the work as a chemist in the field of materials for energy storage.
Martina has a degree in Chemistry from the National University of Córdoba (2010), and a PhD in Exact Sciences from the National University of La Plata (2017). In her doctorate thesis, she studied the use of mineral adsorbents in the treatment of effluents from fruit production. Since her postdoc, she has focused on materials with applications in lithium-ion batteries. Since November 2019, she gained a position in CONICET as an Assistant Researcher for the development of solid electrolytes for post-ion lithium batteries. In addition, since 2017 she is part of the Geopolitics and Commons Studies Group of the National University of Buenos Aires, where she contributes in the study of the intersection between science-government and industries related with lithium in South America.
In 2022 she started collaborating with the WOL project.
Orsetti, Nicolás Gabriel, Martina Gamba, Sofía Gómez, Juan Pablo Yasnó, Gustavo Suárez. 2022. “The Transcendental Role of Lithium Zirconates in the Development of Modern Energy Technologies.” Ceramics International 48 (7): 8930-59.
Zícari, Julián, Bruno Fornillo, Martina Gamba. 2019. “El Mercado Mundial del Litio y el Eje Asiático. Dinámicas Comerciales, Industriales y Tecnológicas (2001-2017).” Polis Revista Latinoamericana (Chile) 52: 186-213.
Fornillo, Bruno, and Martina Gamba. 2019. “Industria, Ciencia y Política en el Triángulo del Litio.” Ciencia, Docencia y Tecnología 30 (58): 1-38.
Gamba, Martina. 2021. “Detrás del Boom del Litio. Controversias en Torno a un Metal con Brillo Propio.” Revista Maíz (Facultad de Periodismo y Comunicación Social de la Universidad Nacional de La Plata). ISSN 2314-1131.
Gamba, Martina. 2019. “La Importancia Estratégica del Litio en Sudamérica.” Investiga Universidad Nacional de La Plata, October 16, 2019.