Being a member has also allowed me to learn how to manage groups – which is something I might not have learned how to do in my job. I hope to use this experience to build an RSC member group here in Nanchang.
Professor at Nanchang University
Specialism: Advance Materials and Catalysis
Membership classification: Member (MRSC)
He currently works with visible light photocatalysis and one of his goals is to promote sustainable practice in chemistry. He tells us how the RSC has helped him in his career and explains how he wants to widen its reach in Nanchang.
Yuxing’s interest in sustainability began when he was doing his PhD in the Netherlands – a project on using first-row transition metals to replace precious metal that is scarce as catalysts when doing organic transformations. Later, he moved to Denmark where he worked on CO2 activation and conversion. Today, he works on advanced materials involving visible light photocatalysis at Nanchang University, China, where his interest in sustainability was cemented. “I want to do research around and unite all areas of chemistry to focus on sustainability,” Yuxing says.
He explains that traditional organic transformations often involve high temperatures and catalysts that are difficult to recycle and reuse after the reaction. This is not a very sustainable practice as higher temperatures use more energy and catalysts can be expensive and scarce. And so Yuxing is focused on creating sustainable methods of catalysis using visible or natural light which allows reactions to happen at lower temperatures. He also uses semiconductor nanomaterials as catalysts which are reusable and recyclable.
Yuxing believes that visible light photocatalysis is vital to making improvements in the pharmaceutical industry, adding that: “one goal is ultimately to use this technology to develop new drugs.”
In 2015 he joined the RSC while studying in the Netherlands.
I decided to join when I was doing my PhD because my professor was a fellow of the RSC. I was a bit nervous about whether I was eligible for membership.
Adding that only after four years and having earned a permanent position as an associate professor, he felt confident in applying. “Apparently this was a big mistake as I realise now that I should have applied for membership four years ago since RSC provides so many kinds of support to its members.”
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He adds that his desire was further fueled by the benefits that the RSC offers. “I really like the Chemical Science and Green Chemistry journals. I also really like having access to the RSC’s global network which gives me the chance to communicate and collaborate with chemists from around the world.”
Yuxing also relays his pride at making the front cover of RSC’s Green Chemistry journal, adding: “I am so proud that my first publication with the RSC was a front cover! I boast to my friends all the time.”
Yuxing is also a fan of RSC events. “The society provides a lot of opportunities to join online conferences where I can learn about new developments in my field. I really love it, it’s like a big family.
Even with the pandemic limiting in-person events, Yuxing is hopeful for the future of the RSC global community. “It’s a pity a lot of events are only online now, but I am looking forward to attending in-person activities in the future which will allow me to make more friends and meet potential collaborators.
There are RSC events in bigger Chinese cities like Beijing but in a smaller cities like Nanchang, there are fewer activities. I would love to volunteer and help organise local events.
When asked about whether the RSC gives chemists an edge in their career development, Yuxing is unequivocal: “The RSC is a well-recognised organisation. When people find out you are a member of the RSC, they know that you are a professional and doing serious work in chemistry. It’s very helpful. My wife is a chemist and a member as well and I’m trying to persuade my friends to join!
I really appreciate that RSC give us funding, I didn’t know that before I joined. Young chemists in China are under a lot of pressure because there’s fierce competition for government funding. Lots of them in their early career have great ideas, but there isn’t always the money to help them and their work, so it would be good if the RSC could provide even a small amount for them to be able to pursue their dreams.
And his support for the chemists of tomorrow doesn’t stop there. “My son also really loves chemistry so maybe the RSC could organise some activities for kids to let them discover chemistry.”
The pandemic has impacted billions, but Yuxing believes that people are reassessing their views on chemistry in light of the pandemic. “Many people thought negatively about chemistry – that it’s the reason for pollution and other negative views. Many just didn’t realise how important chemistry is. But the fast development of the COVID-19 vaccine has helped to change this.
“People have seen that tackling the virus isn’t just about biology, but chemistry as well. You need chemistry to help define the structure of the virus as well as design the drugs to fight it. It’s been shown how chemistry can save lives and I hope the view of chemistry continues to improve.”