Santa was born and grew up in Latvia, a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Latvia, where she majored in chemistry and developed a passion for organic synthesis of complex molecules. At the same time, she gained research experience by working at the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis in parallel to her studies. In 2009, she moved to Texas to pursue graduate studies in Dr. Jeremy May’s group at the University of Houston, where she investigated the synthesis of a natural product (Maoecrystal V) and developed a new chemical transformation for the synthesis of complex polycyclic compounds. After graduation with Ph.D. in chemistry in 2014, she joined the Chemical Separations group in Chemical Sciences Division at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where she is a staff scientist and a principal investigator on several projects. Her research interests include synthesis of structurally complex and diverse organic compounds for applications in nuclear science (An/Ln separation), rare earth recovery, and ion-conducting polymer research.