Langmuir Early Career Advisory Board Members Announced

Earlier this year, Langmuir announced the creation of and began accepting nominations for an Early Career Advisory Board. After an overwhelming response from the community, the journal is excited to introduce the members of the group who will serve on the inaugural board. Please join the journal in congratulating the group, and welcome them to the Langmuir team.

I sat down with each member for a brief Q&A to get to know them a little better.

Zhichao Dong

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I graduated from Jilin University with Bachelor’s of Science in Polymer Chemistry in 2011 and obtained my Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2016. Currently, I am an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. I have published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles across numerous journals, including ACS Nano.

Describe your current research (or areas of interest).

My research interests focus on bioinspired materials and interfacial science with an emphasis on the role of surface multi-curvatures and liquid-solid dynamic interactions on manipulating water transport dynamics. Overflow behavior of liquid at a curved surface or a surface border is one of my main areas I study because accurate control of overflow is beneficial for improving the convenience of life and efficiency of production has great importance for applications.

Overall, my mission is to advance science and technology on the interfaces between fluids and substrates for addressing grand societal challenges in agriculture, water and the joy of living in a bio-inspired way.

Why is interface science important/why did you decide to work in interface science?

Interface science is very important for us not only in the lab but also in daily life. I like to observe and investigate every detail of interesting phenomena. For example, the interface behavior of liquid dynamic interaction with solid edges is a familiar phenomenon. It may be commonly observed in situations of people walking, automobiles driving, or even aircrafts landing on the wet ground after raining, where flowing liquids in a wide flow velocity range tend to flow over a curved surface from the bottom and then separate at a certain point, sometimes leading to a splash of muddy water, which is normally undesirable. Can I wear white shoes on rainy days? I want to solve this problem. I understand this kind of phenomena through an interfacial science lens and designed superhydrophobic shoes that greatly reduce the ‘unavoidable’ splash. I believe the developments in interface science are bringing us a better life.

Rebecca Welbourn

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am an instrument scientist at the ISIS Neutron & Muon Source in the UK where I work on the INTER reflectometer. This gives me a special opportunity to work with researchers from across academia and industry, helping them learn more about the interfacial behavior of their systems, alongside developing my own research program. Outside of the lab I like to spend my time outdoors, particularly hiking, running and playing touch rugby.

What are the major challenges facing early career researchers?

This is not an easy question to answer, as I believe that early career researchers can all face quite different barriers to success. That being said, these often relate to how someone can build a strong reputation in their chosen field.

“How can I increase the number of people reading about my work? How do I get people to take my results seriously? Where should I publish it and how can I promote it? How can I secure more funding? How can I get a permanent position? When can I find time to develop my exciting ideas around my other commitments and responsibilities?”

Why is interface science important/why did you decide to work in interface science?

Despite making up only a small fraction of a system, interfaces usually control the response to environmental changes: acting as a barrier and/or first point of contact. This makes understanding interfaces really important for controlling properties and understanding fundamental behavior. However, they are also difficult to measure, requiring specialist techniques, and I think that this combination makes for a really exciting challenge.

Gregg Duncan

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I earned a Bachelor’s (Florida State University ’09) and Ph.D. (Johns Hopkins University ’14), both in Chemical Engineering. I then completed postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. In 2017, I joined the Fischell Department of Bioengineering at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor.

What do you hope to bring to Langmuir?

I hope to be an asset in this role at Langmuir, as my work bridges fundamental colloid and interface science with biomedical research. Interfacial interactions are central to a variety of biological processes such as biofilm formation and cellular uptake of drug delivery vehicles. In this role, I look forward to highlighting many of the new exciting developments on interfaces in biology.

What are the major challenges facing early career researchers?

With the growing number of highly qualified and talented early career scientists, competition for academic positions is a major challenge. In addition, with many Ph.D.s moving to careers outside of academia, it can be challenging to get the training needed during your graduate training to find & successfully move into other sectors. It will be important in the coming years to re-think how we train Ph.D. students and what resources are made available to them.

Wee-Jun Ong

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I received my Bachelor’s of Engineering and Ph.D. degrees in Chemical Engineering from Monash University in 2012 and 2016, respectively. At present, I am the Associate Professor in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at Xiamen University Malaysia. This year, I have been a Visiting Scientist in the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) in Prof. Xinliang Feng’s group at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany. In 2019, he is invited to be a Visiting Professor at Shandong University (China) for the “Shandong University Distinguished Overseas Lectureship.” He is the Visiting Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley from August 2019.

My research interests focus on photocatalytic, photoelectrocatalytic and electrochemical H2O splitting, CO2reduction and N2fixation using nanomaterials. In 2018, I have been named the Emerging Investigator in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A. I have authored, corresponding-authored, and co-authored more than 55 papers published in journals such as Chemical Reviews, ACS Nano, and others.

Describe your current research (or areas of interest).

My research interests include photocatalytic, photoelectrocatalytic and electrochemical H2O splitting, CO2reduction and N2fixation using nanomaterials. My current research focuses on energy conversion and storage using nanomaterials to address the seriousness of energy security and environmental issues by mimicking the ingenuity of nature.

Apart from photochemistry, electrochemical energy conversion by using the electricity driven by the solar cells to align with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7: Affordable and Clean Energy) is another area I am researching. As such, I hope these projects will uncover clean energy resources to substitute fossil fuels toward sustainable energy production using the fundamental knowledge of interface science.

What do you hope to bring to both Langmuir and the Early Career Board?

My plans for the Langmuir Early Career Advisory Board includes actively provide new ideas on how to promote promising energy applications by understanding the interfaces and charge transfer, which could affect the technology globally. Furthermore, I will also be suggesting Virtual Issues on specific topics to underscore the timely significance of these subjects to the research community. I will act as a Langmuir ambassador when attending international conferences. Lastly, I hope to make Langmuir among the top 50 journals for materials science and chemistry.

Bas van Ravensteijn

What do you hope to bring to Langmuir Early Career Board?

As a member of the Early Career Advisory Board I hope to contribute constructively to the high-quality research published in Langmuir and to further strengthen the respected position of the journal in the physical and surface science communityTo achieve this, I will rely not only on my eagerness to learn something new every day, but also on my combined expertise in physical chemistry and synthetic (polymer) chemistry. Facilitated by this broad scientific background, I am able to connect various (sub)disciplines and identify overarching scientific goals. This multidisciplinary view is an absolute necessity to make an impact in soft matter science, where chemistry, physics, and biology are indisputably intertwined.

Describe your current research (or areas of interest).

My research interests focus on the synthesis and understanding of (colloidal) model systems for self-assembly purposes. The overarching aim is two-fold. First, to achieve a deeper understanding of the mechanisms, driving forces, and dynamics of assembly processes and the resulting structures. Secondly, to gain control over assembly processes, so that materials with tailored properties can be rationally engineered. In my view, employing chemical design to obtain physical particle characteristics required for self-assembly is pivotal to advancing the soft matter field. In pursuit of this, I methodically combine synthetic polymer, colloid, and physical chemistry.

What is the most exciting trend in interface science right now, in your opinion?

The most exciting trend I see in interface and colloid science right now is the development of new classes of synthetic materials that are able to form and operate under non-equilibrium conditions. Inspired by intriguing dynamic self-assembling systems found in nature, e.g., microtubules or motor proteins, these synthetic analogues will lead to materials with new spatiotemporal properties and internal structures. In addition to leveraging this biological inspiration for the next-generation of functional materials, I foresee that the pursuit of synthetic model systems will generate a better fundamental understanding of the processes that drive life.

Long Luo

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Wayne State University. I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2009, and my Ph.D. from the University of Utah in 2014. I am an electrochemist who is interested in developing new electrochemical methods for analytical applications and functional materials synthesis.

What do you hope to bring to Langmuir?

I hope to bring more attentionand contribution from early career researchers to Langmuir. I plan to achieve this goal by delivering a clear message to early career researchers: Langmuir is a perfect journal where you can start your successful career.

What are the major challenges facing early career researchers?

A major challenge facing early career researchers is to raise the visibility of their work in the scientific community. It is often very difficult for early career researchers to publish in high-profile journals, attract audiences at conferences, and receive media coverage of their work.

What is the most exciting trend in interface science right now, in your opinion?

In my opinion, the most exciting trend in interface science is its constant evolution with cutting-edge research in other fields.

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