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The eighth story of a student researcher.
Date
2023-02-06
Views
928

(UST Dr. Rohib, Fuel Cell Laboratory)





Hello. Please introduce yourself.



I am Rohib, an Indonesian student who will get PhD from UST on February 2023. I became a graduate research student in the Fuel cell department. Specifically, I joined the catalyst laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Gu-Gon Park.

As a part of my PhD research, I am focusing on developing non-platinum group metal (Non-PGM) catalysts for fuel cell applications. Our research group aims to develop an alternative catalyst material that is cheaper, more abundant, and performs better than the current commercial catalyst.




What is the daily routine in the researcher?



As a graduate student researcher, I begin my day by making a cup of tea and reading a paper that correlates with my topic research or articles from online media about current issues in energy and other fields. I spend 10 to 30 minutes on these activities in the morning. Afterwards, I reviewed my previous experiment by looking at my laboratory notes and decided what I needed to accomplish in the laboratory throughout the day. After break time and getting lunch in the cafeteria, I usually continue the remaining experiment. At the end of the day, I usually make checklists and notes on my laptop or laboratory notes.

My daily experiments data and all information are summarized every Thursday evening, and I present them at weekly meetings on Friday. Approximately every 3 - 4 months, I will compile the data from the weekly meetings and present it at the "join meeting" of the fuel cell department.




Do you remember any episodes from your research career?



It is always a good reminder to me that life as a researcher is like riding a roller coaster, up and down. Failure and success during the experiment are something ubiquitous in my research activities. However, regardless of the results of our experiment, understanding why those results occurred is an essential part of the journey. When we obtain good data, we must explain the reason for that result. Conversely, if the result is unsatisfactory, we must also determine the reason. For dealing with the "roller coaster" life of a PhD student, having a kind lab-mate and good supervisor is vital. 

I remember the first semester of my research career in KIER when my ability to handle the laboratory equipment and my Korean speaking was insufficient. While working in such a challenging environment, my lab mates were always willing to assist and teach me patiently. I really owe them a lot. In addition, I will never forget how my supervisor encouraged me to use creative and critical thinking when conducting experiments during my PhD. He shared some papers for the references and also told me his opinion and advice for my work. This kind of research atmosphere in our group will be memorable and unforgettable moments








What do you do now? 



Starting in April 2023, I will become a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of research on catalysis and the environment of Lyon (IRCELYON) - France. IRCELYON is a joint research unit of the French National Centre for Scientific Research (Centre national de la recherche scientifique / CNRS)-Universite Claude Bernard. It is among the most prominent French joint laboratory of CNRS and the university entirely devoted to catalysis. IRCELYON is a world-class research center dedicated to the overall understanding of catalyzed reactions applied to industrial and societal issues in the fields of energy, chemistry and environment. IRCELYON combines all competencies in heterogeneous catalysis over the Lyon area and forms the largest catalysis laboratory in France and Europe.

At IRCELYON, I will become part of the Catalytic and Atmospheric Reactivity for the Environment (CARE) team and will be responsible for the “new catalysts for SAFe HYdrogen Release and use” (SAFHYR) project. My duty is developing catalysts for the transfer hydrogenation reaction and for the direct isopropanol fuel cell. My target is reducing the use of noble metals of the catalyst design in both cases, using optimized bimetallic or non-noble catalysts. Moreover, I also have an opportunity to be part of the Electrolysis of Biomass (ELOBIO) project. This project is granted by the European Innovation Council in the framework of the Pathfinder challenge "New routes for green hydrogen production". ELOBIO brings together a consortium involving researchers from three French CNRS labs (IRCELYON, LCH, IC2MP), two German institutions (KIT, Fraunhofer ICT), two Spanish universities (UCLM and UPM) and a Dutch research institute (DIFFER), covering a wide range of expertise, ranging from material science, electrocatalysis, chemical engineering, atomistic and macro-scale modelling as well as life cycle analysis.




What was most helpful when you got a job?



In a PhD program, a student scrutinizes his/her career in a particular research area. However, in my humble opinion, we have the privilege of doing, learning and discussing many things during our PhD time; therefore, exploring what we wish to know is critical. That is what I gained from my PhD time. My supervisor provided me with an opportunity to gain insight into what I need to know as a "future scientist" in electrochemistry, especially electrocatalysts for fuel cells. He gave me a route or research pathway for understanding the electrocatalyst, both noble and non-noble metal. In addition, I have the opportunity to explore uncommon synthesis processes of catalysts, which gives me a deeper understanding of nanoparticle synthesis. Due to those experiences during my PhD, I am confident during the selection process for the postdoctoral fellowship and well-suited for my current duties.

Also important is to understand the trends of our field research and to identify the "players" in this research. As part of our efforts to keep up with the latest trends and issues, we must read not only scientific publications but also news articles or reports from energy agencies and institutions. According to the news article, we can usually determine which country or group is currently working and focusing on our research field. This information will assist us in identifying which institutions or universities will be a good fit for us after graduation.








What are your goals or things you want to do in the future?



When I discussed my future career with my supervisor, he told me that after finishing the PhD, PhD graduates usually have enough knowledge in their research field. However, to become an expert, they need more time and experience to sharpen their understanding. I completely agree with his advice. Since I intend to build my career in academia, I will join in a postdoctoral program for several years ahead. In the future, I would like to become a professor with an outstanding academic record. The most important goal for me is to contribute and share what I know and understand about renewable energy fields for the advancement of technology and for the benefit of mankind.