1. What made you want to be a chemist?
I’m still a chemist wanna-be! I’m a chemical engineer by training and I work closely with several chemistry collaborators. The precision of chemistry amazes me. I am always in awe how my collaborators can derivatize and functionalize organic compounds as prescribed with such ease.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?
I would like to be a science show/documentary host with PBS or the equivalent. I was always told that I connect with my audience. I think I would really enjoy engaging the public with what we do.
3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?
Given the interdisciplinary nature of research today, I believe that we have to reach to work with scientists and engineers in other disciplines to really contribute to the world at large. Underlying the energy challenge today, for example, is the need for the development of new materials as renewable energy sources. Chemists are uniquely equipped to tackle this task. But to really contribute towards solving the world’s energy challenge, we will have to engage researchers in other disciplines, be it to scale up production, or to incorporate these new materials into functional devices.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
He’s by no means a historical figure but, if granted the opportunity, I would love to have dinner with Bill Nye, the science guy. His love and curiosity for science is infectious! And he inspired me as a child.
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
Yesterday! I was running some near-edge X-ray absorption fine structure spectroscopy experiments at a soft X-ray beamline at the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Labs. Long hours – but I really enjoy being involved in the experiments.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?
Book – Maria Shriver’s Ten Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Went into the Real World. This book grounds me and provides perspective whenever I am stressed out. I think I would be quite stressed out stranded on an island!
CD – Carla Bruni’s Quelqu’un m’a dit