The PhD thesis was supervised by Martí Gich, NN group, ICMAB, CSIC. The PhD Committee that evaluated the Thesis was formed by Javier Blasco Carral, Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain (President), Joan Manel Hernàndez Ferràs, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain (Secretary), and Nathalie Viart, Université de Strasbourg, France (Vocal).
Zheng Ma's PhD thesis was part of the PhD Programme in Materials Science from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB).
Joan Manel Hernàndez Ferràs (Secretary), Dr. Zheng Ma, and Martí Gich (Supervisor). On the screen: Javier Blasco Blasco Carral (President) and Nathalie Viart (Vocal).
Why did you choose the ICMAB for your PhD?
Because of the fun science that is in action here, the leading scientists and its attractive international flavour, all in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
How would you explain your research to a non-scientific audience?
The attraction between lodestone (a naturally occurring iron oxide magnet) and pieces of iron is the first described magnetic phenomenon; it has been used for navigation as a compass by both the ancient Chinese and the ancient Greeks. Even now, not only do iron oxides have vast technological applications, ranging from steel production, magnetic recording media, sensors, pigments, catalysts, to biomedical diagnosis and therapeutics, they are also of tremendous interest in fundamental research.
The Thesis research concerns exploring the synthesis and characterization of a rare and much less-studied iron oxide polymorph, ε-Fe2O3, aiming at advancing our knowledge of this particular iron oxide. The research is useful for evaluating the application potential of this oxide in information technologies.
What are the main applications of your research? Could you give us an example?
My PhD research is fundamental in nature, it contributes to our understanding of the physics of transition metal oxides; nevertheless, it is anticipated that the finding will inspire the future design and engineering of ε-Fe2O3 based IT devices (such as millimeter-wave absorbers).
From the lessons learnt here, which one do you value the most?
Keeping good records of work.
What will you miss the most from ICMAB?
The friends and colleagues who are always willing to help, as well as the great atmosphere that we have in the N&N Group. All of these have made my research easier and funny.
How do you think this experience will contribute to your training and to your future?
It offered the opportunity to touch upon a variety of experiential toolsets that I could not imagine before. I stand also to gain from cooperation with other experienced co-workers, and this prepares me well to integrate easily in a multidisciplinary team.
What are your plans once you finish your PhD?
Finding a postdoctoral position with an interesting topic.
What do you wish you had known at the beginning of your PhD, that now you can recommend to the ones who are starting?
Publish papers early. It will help you find postdoctoral positions before finishing your PhD.
Why did you become a scientist? Which have been your role models?
I was lucky enough to constantly find pleasure and joy from understanding or solving something in classes and laboratories as well. During the course of my study, many brilliant minds have positively influenced me to pursue science, including the math teacher from high school and the dissertation advisor from my university, who shall remain nameless.
Who is your favourite female scientist? And why?
Alexandra Elbakyan. The Sci-Hub website she created has facilitated free access to science.
Describe in 3 keywords…
Your research: fun, collaborative, creative
Barcelona: colorful, friendly, beach-y
Your experience at ICMAB: fulfilling, happy ≫ sad
Any other comments you would like to say:
To ICMAB: Live long and prosper 🖖
To ICMABers: thank you all and see you another day.