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SciMeetings Spotlight: Benjoe Rey B. Visayas

This interview is part of a series highlighting exceptional chemists who have shared their conference poster or presentation through SciMeetings. Launched by ACS Publications as a virtual science sharing platform in March 2020, SciMeetings helps presenters increase the global visibility and extend the longevity of the research they present at conferences.

Benjoe Rey B. Visayas is a Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He is a computational chemist and is currently a graduate research assistant in the Mayes Computational Chemistry and Materials Computation Group led by Dr. Maricris L. Mayes.

Below, he discusses his research interests leading to his oral (Optimizing Solubility of Active Materials For Non-aqueous Redox Flow Battery) and poster (Force Field Parameterization and Viscosity Calculations for an Anionic Nonaqueous Redox Flow Battery Active-Material: A Molecular Dynamics Study) presentations during the ACS Fall 2022 Meeting

SciMeetings Spotlight: Benjoe Rey B. Visayas

What’s your research focus? What attracted you to this field?

In my current work, I apply theory, computation, and machine learning methods to the discovery and development of redox-active materials (RAMs) for non-aqueous redox flow batteries (NRFBs).

Considering the inherent intermittency of renewable energy sources, energy-storage solutions prove to be our biggest obstacle to a fully renewable and reliable energy supply. It is the complexity of addressing this problem, based on developing an industry-ready energy storage technology, as well as the urgency of such a technology that has drawn me to this line of research.

Who are your mentors? How have they impacted your work so far?

As a result of collaborations, I have been able to learn from several esteemed experts from different fields. I appreciate the guidance, knowledge, and insights I have gained from my Ph.D. supervisor, Dr. Maricris L. Mayes. Dr. Patrick J. Cappillino has also been an integral part of my research and has provided a great deal of practical experimental insights and validated our computational results, both of which are invaluable to a theoretical chemist like me. In addition, our RAMs were tested by Dr. Ertan Agar, whose expertise in flow-assisted electrochemical systems provided the final proof of concept. Without their help, guidance, and mentorship, I would not be the researcher that I am today.

Where did you get the idea for the research presented in your talk?

I believe that development should begin with necessity, which is how my research began. Initially, we were asked to explain an experimental observation regarding RAM solubility trends that needed more fundamental understanding. We developed computational workflows from there, which have been insightful. As new problems such issues with viscosity and other transport properties emerge, we expanded on them and developed additional methods to further increase RAM performance. My research has evolved as needed as a result of ongoing discussions with our collaborators.

What do you think is the most important unsolved problem in your field right now?

In terms of improving the synthesis of a very stable RAM for NRFBs, we have made tremendous strides. Additionally, significant progress has been made to increase its solubility. Furthermore, work is being done to enhance the transport qualities relevant to its flow-battery applications. The integration of these various elements into a fully operational and deployable NRFB, to determine whether such technology is practical for grid-scale installations, is, in my opinion, the most significant remaining obstacle.

What advice would you give to anyone presenting a poster or talk for the first time?

Any presentation can be daunting to deliver for the first time, but as poet Robert Frost once said, “the only way round is through.” Find courage in the fact that you are the only person who truly understands your work and that you are the one presenting it. Everyone is there to hear what you have to say; nobody is there to get you.

Is there added value in presenting your research on SciMeetings?

The SciMeetings platform is excellent for both participants and presenters. Attending every session and viewing every poster at an event as large as the ACS Meetings is practically impossible. As a presenter, SciMeetings gives you the possibility of extending the reach of your presentation beyond the duration of the conference.  Similarly, participants would also be free to see all of the previously recorded presentations whenever they wanted. A citable presentation is also a fantastic approach for students to showcase their work, particularly for graduate students who are just starting their careers.

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