Four professors at DICP were recently recognized at Outstanding Young Scientist in Dalian: Feng Wang, Yan Liu, Xianfeng Li, and Zhaochao Xu. All four of these talented researchers took some time from their busy schedules to share some thoughts about their research, motivations, and views. “The Dalian Outstanding Young Scientist Award” is a program that focuses on the contributions of individual scientists under 40 years old on the technological frontier and in new industries. Every year, ten scientific researchers are chosen for this award. They are expected to undertake significant scientific and technical duties in the relevant industries and research directions in Dalian.
Professor Feng Wang
Prof. Wang received his Ph.D. in 2005 from DICP and had post-doc appointments -- one at University of California, Berkeley and the other at Hokkaido University in Japan. Following his post-docs, he is now working at DICP as the group leader of the Bioenergy Chemical lab.
Q: Would you please talk about your main research interests?
A: Our research field is interfaces heterogeneous catalysis, homogeneous catalysis and material chemistry. We are interested in the design and synthesis of crystalline solid materials, which have well-defined structures. Ongoing projects include developing new synthetic routes to ordered nanomaterial architectures, such as crystalline oxides, zeolite, and metal nanoparticles, and the evaluation of their catalytic performance in searching for green and environmental benefit processes.
Q: what is the biggest challenge you’ve met in the past few years? And how did you handle it?
A: For me, to be a good Principal Investigator may be the biggest challenge. I have to think about research funds, human resources, instruments, and make reasonable arrangements. I have been working hard at that.
Q: In your view, how does one become an excellent young scientist?
A: first of all, a good platform is very important. And DICP is such a stage that provides researchers with word-class hardware, while also offering young researchers substantial opportunities. Then, you need an outstanding group. Through communication and cooperation, more achievements can be realized. For yourself, having the ability to select topics is necessary. You should persist in doing research work yourself as a young group leader, and try your best to help your students build their confidence and develop their talents and professionalism.
Prof. Liu received his Ph.D. in 2006 from Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry and had post-doc appointments at University of Brandeis, US. In 2010, he is now working at Group 503 of DICP. Prof. Liu shared some thoughts on his decisions and challenges in his exciting scientific journey.
Q: What are your main research interests?
A: We are focusing on chiral emulsion catalysis and photo catalytic reaction of organic synthesiswith combination of homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis. We try to put physical chemistry methods into chiral emulsion catalysis. Also we utilize inorganic semiconductors to catalyze the organic synthesis reactions.
Q: What is the motivation of your journey into science?
A: It was the strong desire to learn new things and progress in life that drove me to give up a very stable job in Sichuan and restart my study at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry.ThenI went abroad for further study as a post-doc. After that, I decided to make scientific research my career. It brings great happiness from self-satisfaction when my ideas are realized. That leads to even more passion.
Q: What do you think are the most important characteristics leading a scientist to success?
A: In my opinion, concentration on scientific research is themost important. Great discoveries and excellent work can be achieved if you have enthusiasm for it. Also, diligence should not be ignored. Without diligence, it is hard to come up with good ideas.
Professor Xianfeng Li
Prof. Li received his Ph.D. in 2006 from Jilin University and had post-doc appointments at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in the same year. In 2009, he is now working at Group DNL 17 of DICP. In 2011, Prof. Li was appointed the leader of the Battery Materials and Technology groups. As a full-professor, he has the authored more than 60 peer-reviewed papers and 20 patents.
Q: What are your main research interests?
A: Well, my main research interest is membrane science, include functional membranes for different applications (separation, fuel cells, energy storage etc.), nanotechnology, and polymer chemistry. As energy storage is a key technology for widespread application of renewable energies,I have also extended my research fields into key materials and components and system integration of redox flow batteries.
Q: Have you encountered many difficulties since you came back from abroad? How have you managed those difficulties?
A: Of course I’ve been met with many difficulties -- even huge ones! Actually, it is common when you decide to be a scientific researcher, especially when you chose to work at DICP, a world-class institute that has the best researchers and excellent students. But, I remember to not be sluggish and get frustrated. Enthusiasm about your research field is the key, and diligence is also an essential.
Q: You must be busy with your work. What do you like to do in your spare time to relieve work stress?
A: Usually, I like to find a quiet place and meditate. For me, meditation can be a great stress reliever because we naturally let go of everything when we settle into the meditative state.
Professor Zhaochao Xu
Prof. Xu received his Ph.D. in 2006 from Dalian University of Technology.From 2008 to 2011, he was a Herchel Smith Research Fellow at University of Cambridge. In 2011, he became a professor at DICP.
Q: What are the research interests of your group?
A: Research in the group is focusing on the development of molecular probes for the selective recognition and fluorescent imaging of biologically important species. In particular, we are interested in the construction of fluorescent probes for metal ions, anions, and protein labeling. For these projects, our group makes use of molecular design, organic synthesis, analytical chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, luminescence spectroscopy, and cell culture techniques.
Q: Can you talk a little about your experience of doing research?
A: Sure. I my interest in science research began to grow when I finished at the university. Frankly speaking, I had no idea of what the real science research was before that. But, I met two famous professors coming back from abroad at that time, and I changed my mind. I told myself that I need to go abroad for further study. And, I also realized that there is much shortcoming in basic theories and systematic, specialized knowledge. Since then, I’ve devoted myself to my research, and I feel very lucky to be here now.
Q: To the young students in your group, what kind of suggestions do you have?
A: For my students, I give them three words, “enthusiasm”, “open-mind” and “persistence”. Enthusiasm is your limitless power when you meet with difficulties. Open-mind is the pathway to your success. Persistence or diligence is the key you should not ignore.