1. What made you want to be a chemist?
When I was an undergraduate, I spent much of my leisure time in a chemistry lab because of my great interest in various fantastic chemical reactions. In my Ph.D. studies, I began research work on molecular sieves due to my supervisor’s suggestion. At that time, I was attracted by the magical porous materials which made me go further along this way.
2. If you weren’t a chemist and could do any other job, what would it be – and why?
I like the kind of work where I can invent and create with my head and hand, and enjoy the whole process from raising ideas, to drawing papers, and to making the final objects. Indeed, if I wasn’t a chemist, I have a dream to do detective work like a policeman, because investigating and solving a law case is similar to scientific research. I like to ask myself questions and understand why.
3. How can chemists best contribute to the world at large?
Generally, there are two points: vision and ability. A chemist must stand higher to have a panoramic view of the world and make some judgments and predictions. At the same time, he should have certain abilities to realize those ideas.
4. Which historical figure would you most like to have dinner with – and why?
It must be Edison, my idol, the most outstanding inventor in the world. I wish we could share some ideas and opinions with each other, especially the unsuccessful experiences in our careers. I wonder if I am similar to him…
5. When was the last time you did an experiment in the lab – and what was it?
In 2007, I made some attepmts to scale up the production of FDU-15 by myself. After so many years of experience of small-scale laboratory syntheses, I am now paying more attention to the production of new materials on a large scale, which is the prerequisite to their real applications.
6. If exiled on a desert island, what one book and one CD would you take with you?
The book, Advanced Inorganic Chemistry, by F. A. Cotton and G. Wilkinson should be with me all time, which would take me far from loneliness and sadness, and bring the happiest time with me. The symphonies of Beethoven, the greatest German composer, would always encourage me to face and overcome the difficulties encountered.
Dongyuan Zhao is in the Department of Chemistry at Fudan University, and works on the development of novel synthesis/assembly methods for microporous molecular sieves and mesoporous materials, and the exploration of their properties and applications.