A solid platform for starting a career


Life imitates science in SARCOS, a COST Action on self-healing concrete. A young researcher strengthened her career by starting the network, while its ‘thesis clinic’ has helped PhD students to learn new approaches to their research.

Dr Mercedes Sánchez Moreno has built a 10-year career investigating how to make concrete more durable. She and colleagues wanted to attract leading experts to a new line of research on the preventative repair of new and existing concrete structures, both by self-healing concrete – which self-repairs cracks – and innovative external techniques.


Above: cracks in concrete

In a bold move, they proposed a COST Action, “Self-healing as Preventive Repair of Concrete Structures” (SARCOS). Sánchez Moreno chaired the Action. The experience helped her land one of Spain’s highly competitive Ramón y Cajal postdoctoral fellowships.

Sánchez Moreno had already been the top runner-up for one of these five-year contracts three times.

“The main difference this time was that I had obtained the COST Action as main proposer and been selected as Chair,” she explains.

She is now pursuing her fellowship at the University of Córdoba where she expects to progress to an Associate Professor position.

Support for young researchers

SARCOS did not neglect other young researchers. It organised a special workshop where doctoral and early-career investigators (ECIs) could solve each other’s research issues and learn new lab techniques.

Feedback was so positive that the Action is organising a second PhD-ECI meeting at the March 2020 convention of the International Union of Laboratories and Experts in Construction Materials, Systems and Structures (RILEM).

View the Action

View the Network website