Getting to Know the New Members of the Nano Letters Early Career Advisory Board

Nano Letters started its Early Career Advisory Board with the mission of developing a channel for early career scientists to share their experiences and perspectives on scientific publishing. As the future of the field, members also provide insights into emerging disciplines. In addition, Early Career Advisory Board members organize virtual issues highlighting topics such as nanomaterials and perovskite nanocrystals.

Now in its third year, the Nano Letters Early Career Advisory Board is pleased to announce four new members. Take a few minutes to get to know them.

Weiyang (Fiona) Li

Tell us a little about yourself

I graduated with B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Nankai University (Tianjin, P.R. China), and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. I then worked as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at Stanford University from 2011 to 2015.  I joined the Thayer School of Engineering of Dartmouth College as an Assistant Professor in 2016.

Describe your current research (or areas of interest).

The research in my group primarily focuses on the development of functional materials with finely tailored composition and architecture to tackle critical problems in diverse energy-related applications, especially in cost-effective and high-energy battery systems.

What are the major challenges facing early career chemists?

Some of the challenges include: achieving a balance between curiosity-driven and problem-solving research, difficulty in securing jobs, and intense work demands.

Deep Jariwala

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am an early career scientist who has recently (Jan. 2018) started a tenure-track position in Electrical and Systems Engineering at University of Pennsylvania. Before that, I was a Resnick Fellow at Caltech, and prior to that, I received my Ph.D. from Northwestern University. I am originally from Mumbai, India, where I completed my undergraduate degree in 2010 at the Indian Institute of Technology in Varanasi. I am passionate about my work and making a positive change through science education and technology related research.

What do you hope to bring to the Early Career Advisory Board?

The younger generation of scientists has the important responsibility of communicating science and the merits/impact of science and science education to the broader section of the society, not just in the U.S. but also beyond the U.S., particularly in Asia where the science community is growing at a much faster pace. Thus, as a member of the Early Career Advisory Board, I hope we can take some initiatives to reach out to more people through Nano Letters and engage the community to communicate the impacts of nanoscience and nanotechnology in everyday lives to the layperson. Besides that, I hope to interact with the editors and have a positive impact on the journal’s future.

What are the major challenges facing early career scientists?

One of the biggest challenges facing early career scientists is competition and hence lack of resources. It is important to note that there are more people in scientific careers today than there have ever been in the past. On the other hand, the resources available for science, particularly in the western world have not increased proportionately. This puts an enormous pressure on the resources available to do science. A major contributor to this is the public perception that scientific research does not contribute much to society as well as the lack of public trust in scientific discoveries and findings. Therefore, unless the science community can help change this public perception of science, the younger generation of scientists will continue to face an uphill battle to make breakthrough discoveries and have successful career trajectories.

Michael Saliba

Tell us a little about yourself.

My research group at the Merkle Institute in Fribourg, Switzerland is working on novel materials for a sustainable energy future. I was a Marie Curie Fellow at EPFL, obtained a Ph.D. at Oxford University, an MSc with the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, and BSc degrees in mathematics and physics from Stuttgart University.

I was awarded the Young Scientist Award of the German University Association, the Postdoctoral Award of the Materials Research Society (MRS); I was also named as one of the World’s 35 Innovators Under 35 by the MIT Technology Review. I am a member of the National Young Academy of Germany as well as the Global Young Academy working, for example, on improving science awareness in society.

Describe your current research (or areas of interest).

I study novel materials focusing on perovskites and interfaces for a sustainable energy future. Solar cells and optoelectronic research are very exciting as they sit at the intersection of physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, etc. This brings diverse research communities together creating a very stimulating environment.

I also have worked in the fields of plasmonics, lasers, LEDs, and nanostructuring. I am always excited to look at the combination of two topics.

I particularly enjoy working with students/colleagues/collaborators who have a different research background or seemingly unobvious ideas. This creates some of the most interesting research and can open entirely new directions.

What are the major challenges facing early career chemists?

I believe one major challenge is changing gears and to learning new skills. We often get very good at one thing during our training. For many, this is the necessary process of producing good research that gets published.

Then, all the sudden, we need to write grants, supervise students, prepare lectures, manage administration, etc. This transition frequently occurs without much formal training and is very challenging for almost anyone. It takes years to become good at anything and the same is true here. It is therefore essential to keep an open mind to learning new skills, moving out of the comfort zone, taking courses if necessary and being open to changing gears.

At the same time, it is important to maintain the original enthusiasm that led most of us to science – the joy of discovering new things and to advance scientific knowledge one-step at a time.

Nicolò (Nico) Maccaferri

Tell us a little about yourself.

I obtained the B.S. and M.S. in Physics at the University of Ferrara (Italy) in 2010 and 2012, respectively. From 2013 to 2016, I was Ph. D. student at the Nanoscience Research Center CIC nanoGUNE (Donostia-San Sebastian, Spain) under the supervision of Prof. Paolo Vavassori. During my Ph.D. studies, I contributed to the development, of a new class of magnetically tunable nanophotonic and bio-sensing applications. I am a dynamic and energetic person with a real passion for science in general. I am also a philosophy and history enthusiast. I am also a really meticulous and detail-oriented person. For me it is very important to do things in the best way in all aspects of life.

What do you hope to bring to the Early Career Advisory Board?

First, I hope to be able to bring within the Early Career Advisory Board a nice atmosphere of collaboration. I also hope that we could identify specific conferences or events to attend all together to better expand our knowledge in nanoscience and interact directly between us and with young colleagues to find new topics suitable for the journal, or new perspectives that can help the journal to face the challenges of the world of scientific publications. I also plan to bring new ideas that help bring together the community of young scientists working on different fields of nanoscience.

What are the major challenges facing early career scientists?

Despite phenomenal accomplishments in chemistry, young researchers are facing a new paradigm in science, namely the interdisciplinary aspect of every forefront research project nowadays with respect to the past. As scientific inventions become embedded within human societies, the challenges are further multiplied. Here are some additional challenges:

  • Interlinking theoretical knowledge and experimental approaches from different backgrounds (for instance applied physics, biology, medicine);
  • Implementing the principles of sustainability at the roots of the chemical design;
  • Defining science from a philosophical perspective that acknowledges both pragmatic and realistic aspects thereof;
  • Instigating interdisciplinary research within the projects they handle;
  • Learning to recognize and appreciate the aesthetic aspects of scientific knowledge and methodology, and to promote truly inspiring education in chemistry.

In conclusion, nowadays the evolution of human knowledge inherently depends upon our ability to adopt creative problem-solving attitudes towards a multidisciplinary scientific environment, which should embrace not only the academia but also the whole society.

Nano Letters Early Career Advisory Board Virtual Issues

The members of the Nano Letters Early Career Advisory Board organized three virtual issues on important topics in nanoscience. Check them out today:

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