Catching Up with the Nano Letters Early Career Board - ACS Axial
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Catching Up with the Nano Letters Early Career Board

The Nano Letters Early Career Board (ECB) was created in 2015 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 to organizing virtual issues.

Now in its fifth year, the board is led by co-chairs Nicolò Maccaferri and Weiyang (Fiona) Li, with returning members Michael Saliba and Deep Jariwala. The board also added three new members at the end of 2019.

Get to Know the Newest Members

Sophie Meuret

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am a Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) researcher in France, working in the Centre d’Elaboration de Matériaux et d’Etudes Structurales (CEMES) laboratory in Toulouse.

Describe your current research.

I am currently working on the development of transmission electron microscopes. My main focus is on using electron-matter interaction to measure the optical properties of materials at the nanoscale. My field of research is mostly Cathodoluminescence spectroscopy and time-resolved electron microscope.

What do you hope to bring to the Nano Letters Early Career Board?

Nano Letters is one of the major journals in my field, and some of the most important papers in my area of research were published in Nano Letters. I hope to be able to help identify important papers and participate in highlighting them to the community.

What are the major challenges facing early career researchers?

I would say the major challenge facing early-career physicists is to install your independent research (which often means setting up a lab, recruiting students, and applying for grants) without losing the fun and excitement that drew you to research in the first place. In the case of experimental physicists, setting new experiments can be quite expensive and especially in nanoscience, where studies often require expensive and state-of-the-art equipment.

Po-Chun Hsu

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I am an assistant professor at Duke University, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. I am a materials scientist by training with a Ph.D. degree at Stanford University in 2016, followed by a postdoctoral research experience in mechanical engineering, also at Stanford. In my (very scarce) free time, I enjoy running, music, and watching movies.

Describe your current research.

The overarching theme of my research group is light- and heat-managing materials for energy and health application. Examples are adaptive smart building envelopes, mid-infrared personal thermal management, novel thermometry, and so on. I am also exploring new opportunities to apply machine learning and additive manufacturing to chemical and biomedical engineering.

What do you hope to bring to the Nano Letters Early Career Board?

I hope I can use my expertise in both materials science and mechanical engineering to link the nanoscale materials design with the macroscale energy application and bring the Nano Letters reader community new insights on the pursuit of transformative nanoscience. The ECB is very active, diverse, and has solid research backgrounds. I hope I can contribute from an engineering point of view and expand the future roadmap of the board.

What are the major challenges facing early career researchers?

To me, the largest challenge is to juggle a lot of new roles simultaneously: teacher, research mentor, fundraiser, writer/reviewer, father, etc. It needs exponentially more brainpower, switching speed, and parallel computation.

Nikolay Kornienko

Please tell us a little about yourself.

I studied at the University of Pittsburgh (B.Sc.), University of California, Berkeley (Ph.D.) and University of Cambridge (Postdoc) before starting at my current position as an assistant professor at the University of Montreal in the department of chemistry. I was always a curious person growing up, so chemistry was a natural fit for me. Outside of work, I enjoy exercise and the outdoors, travel, and simply spending time with family.

Describe your current research.

My current research focuses on the overarching theme of energy conversion and storage. Specifically, I develop catalysts geared towards the conversion of electricity to the fuels and chemicals that drive our society and probe their function with operando spectroscopic techniques. With this, I aim to integrate aspects of materials science, chemistry, and engineering into my research program while also collaboratively working with researchers on complementary areas such as artificial intelligence-driven catalyst discovery.

What do you hope to bring to the Nano Letters Early Career Board?

I wish to bring my unique perspectives to the nanoscience community, both as a researcher in renewable energy electrocatalysis and as a young academic. Specifically, I can imagine highlighting emerging areas of nanoscience via virtual issues, ACS Axial posts, and mini-reviews, as well as collecting the opinions of leaders in the fields on exciting areas for growth through the newly introduced Viewpoints.

What are the major challenges facing early career researchers?

I can speak from my own experiences on this topic. In general, it was quite the transition from working as a postdoc, where my primary focus was my own research, to initiating my own lab as an assistant professor where all of a sudden, my list of responsibilities greatly increased. These include administrative duties, fundraising/grant writing, building up a functional laboratory and research program from the ground up, mentoring students, and in my case, rapidly learning a new language. Further, as nanoscience is often very instrumentation-driven, carrying out cutting edge measurements in a new lab is not so straightforward, though the use of shared facilities in Montreal and help from colleagues helped me out quite a bit here.

These interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and style.

Early Career Board members contribute to the curation of journal content including virtual issues and the popular #ECBRecommends series on Twitter.

Recently, Early Career Board Members, Umberto Celano, and Nicolo Maccaferri guested edited the Chasing Plasmons in Flatland virtual issue in which they, “report the most recent advances on the coupling between the field of plasmonics and 2D materials published in Nano Letters in the past decade.” The issue also discusses, “how [researchers] can exploit this coupling to achieve better performance in some specific areas, above all photodetection.” Check out the virtual issue here.

You can also read previous ECB virtual issues:

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