Month: September 2023

Meet our postdocs: Celebrating National Postdoc Appreciation Week

National Postdoc Appreciation Week (PAW) is a celebration of the fantastic contribution postdocs and researchers make towards research and academic life. Held every year from 18 – 22 September, the week is a chance to thank our postdoctoral researchers and everything that they do!

To celebrate this week, we hear from five postdocs from the Department of Materials.

Dr Jerry Sha – ‘Our community enables me to address challenges in my research and career development every day’

Dr Jerry Sha is a Research Associate in the group of Professor Stephen Skinner. He joined the Department as an undergraduate student in September 2013.

Jerry is part of a project called Epistore, funded by Horizon 2020. The group are aiming to revolutionize the energy storage sector by developing new innovative cells that could efficiently store renewable electricity and cater to applications where the use of conventional batteries is impractical. This includes overcoming size limitations or long-term storage needs. Applications for this research could include off-shore power generation and transportation.

Outside of research, Jerry enjoys playing piano, photography, reading, and karting.

He comments: “I greatly appreciate the inclusivity and support within the postdoc community, which has enabled me to address various challenges in both my research and career development every day. I am also grateful for the opportunity to develop friendships with people from diverse backgrounds.’

Dr Anna Winiwarter – ‘ I enjoy the events organised by my peers’

Dr Anna Winiwater is a Research Associate in the group of Professor Ifan Stephens. She joined the Department of Materials this year.

She is involved in creating an eco-friendly method to produce ammonia, a vital ingredient for fertilizer that feeds half the world’s population. The traditional method, known as the Haber-Bosch process, emits a lot of CO2, contributing to global emissions. Using air’s nitrogen and renewable electricity, the group are working on an electrochemical approach that offers a cleaner alternative. Her research focuses on detecting ammonia and unwanted side products using online mass spectrometry.

Outside of research, Anna enjoys like dancing (in particular Argentine tango), baking sourdough bread, hiking and generally being in nature as a balance to the busy life as a postdoc.

She comments: “I feel very welcome and supported by the postdoc community, both through events organised by peers (like the monthly breakfast for Materials postdocs) and the wide range of services provided by the PFDC.”

Dr Pankaj Sharma – ‘Becoming a member of the postdoc community has been a wonderful experience’

Dr Pankaj Sharma is a Research Associate in the group of Professor Fang Xie. He joined the Department of Materials this year.

Pankaj’s research involves the synthesis of plasmonic photocatalysts for green energy production and environmental applications. He engages in activities related to photoreduction and electrochemical conversion of CO2, the valorization of biowaste, the intergration of catalytic processes for valuable chemicals, and the exploration of photocatalysts for medical and cosmetic applications.

Pankaj is also involved in exploring seawater batteries for hydrogen storage and production, nanomaterial development, synthsising multifunctional porous/hybrid materials, investigations into gas separation, and membrane fabrication.

Outside of research, he enjoys watching regional cinema, occasionally cooking, and savouring delicious food.

He comments: “Becoming a member of the postdoctoral community at Imperial has been a wonderful and novel experience.”

Dr Megan Owen – ‘Our research could impact clean energy generation’

Dr Megan Owen is a Research Associate in the group of Professor Sir Robin Grimes. She joined the Department of Materials in 2022.

Megan’s research uses simulations to model nuclear materials like fuel and cladding. She works to analyse materials during operational temperatures and beyond operational temperatures to better our understanding of materials’ properties.

The group are aiming to develop an understanding of future nuclear materials for new reactors, which will be beneficial for clean energy generation to meet net-zero targets.

Outside of research, Megan enjoys Côr Llundain (London Welsh Choir), attending the gym, and baking.

She comments: “I’m happy to be a part of the postdoc community at Imperial. The PDFC provide excellent support for progression, and monthly coffee mornings and social events within Materials allows me to meet and collaborate with other postdocs.”

Dr Apostolos Panagiotopoulos – ‘I feel constantly inspired to excel and innovate’

Dr Apostolos Panagiotopoulos is a Research Assistant in the group of Professor John Kilner. He joined the Department of Materials in 2018 as a Research Postgraduate.

The group’s research aims to pioneer upscalable and sustainable routes for the processing and manufacturing of electrochemical energy storage components towards high performance devices. His research focuses on exploring their operating intricacies, benchmarking and unveiling charge storage mechanisms. This allows him to re-envision components with superior design, streamlined supply chains and safer function. Apostolos hopes to integrate these innovations in trusted and bold new industrial landscapes, pushing us a step closer towards net zero.

Outside of research, he enjoys competitive fencing and sailing. Apostolos also enjoys cycling, weight-lifting, dancing and has recently started badminton at college.

He comments: “I feel constantly inspired to excel and innovate by the Imperial community. Every day, presents an opportunity to learn and enhance a variety of skills.”