The PhD thesis was supervised by José Giner Planas, from the Inorganic Materials & Catalysis (LMI) Group at ICMAB-CSIC.
The PhD Committee that evaluated the Thesis was formed by Josep Pugimartí-Luis, Universitat de Barcelona, (President), Xavier Sala Román, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) (Secretary) and Felipe Gandara Barragán, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid (ICMM-CSIC) (Vocal).
Doctor Zhen Li's PhD thesis was part of the PhD Programme in Chemistry from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB).
Zhen Li with the PhD committee at the UAB | ICMAB-CSIC
Why did you choose ICMAB for your PhD?
Because my supervisor's (Jose Giner Planas) research focuses on the design and synthesis of metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), which is highly related to my previous research.
How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
I would propose an example that could be commonly observed in our daily life and make a comparsion or connection with my research. For example: I synthetize small chemical compounds that can be used to make sure that the money is authentic.
What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
The main applicaiton of my research is for antercounterfeiting and barcoding applicaiton. For example, cash (in paper form) is nessary for our daily life. To aviod the counterfeit money, some of advanced antercounterfeiting technologies should be used. Our mixed lanthanide-based MOFs could be printed onto paper and exhibit a time-dependent color variation and bar-code changes. Such a unique property make our materials and the printed figures difficult to copy, thus showing a potential applicaiton for advanced antercounterfeiting technology.
From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
Failure is the mother of success. I cannot count how many times I have failed during the past four years. It is my superviosor, who frequently encouraged me to figure out the failure reason and find out promising solutions independently. Even if some “terrible data” were transferred to him, he still felt optimistic for my experiments. During the whole PhD stay, he showed me how to keep going forward, rather than directly giving up when facing challenges. It is his encouragement and patient guidance to make me who I am now.
What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
I will miss the four-year time I spent here. During my PhD stay, I made a lot of friends from various countries.
How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
Apart from the abilty to do a research, my English improved a lot after the four-year PhD training. I also learned how to keep going forward rather than giving up when facing a big chanllenge. All these will become a precious treasure in my future.
What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
Have a good rest and think about my career plannings for the future. I did not do the outstanding reseach during my four-year PhD, would I get more success in the next 2 years? Should I insist on scientific research for the rest of my life?
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
Except for research, I wanted to learn Spanish before I came here. Unfortunately, I am not good at languages. Practising English has made me exhausted. I sill highly recommed all the PhD students to try our best to learn Spanish, which is one of the prerequisites to fully enjoy your life in Spain.
Why did you become a scientist? Who have been your role models?
It was my dream to go abroad to pursure my PhD. It was the encouragement of my Master supervisor to fuel me to do some research.
Let us know who are your favourite scientists (man and woman). Why?
As I mentioned above, It is my PhD supervisor (Jose Giner Planas) who frequently encourages me to figure out the failure reason and find out promising solutions independently. Even if some “terrible data” were transferred to him, he still felt optimistic for my experiments. During the whole PhD stay, he showed me how to keep going forward, rather than directly giving up when facing challenges. It is his encouragement and patient guidance to make me who I am now. I highly appreciated for his great help and patience.
Do you have any other comments you would like to say?
I know that all the technicians in ICMAB have tried their best to solve all the problems, but I still feel disappionted for our internet (our WiFi). Disconnection happens from time to time and it would take us serveral weeks or even serveral months to solve the problems. As far as I know, there is an open-access WiFi in Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) and also in UAB campus. I cannot understand why ICMAB could not provide a public open-access WiFi for everyone. Without internet, how could we do the research?
Congratulations, Doctor Zhen Li!
More information and photos.