What is your main area of research?
My research focuses on developing microbial-electrochemical technologies for the efficient degradation and selected conversion of environmental pollutants. The applications of such systems are spread across fields including wastewater treatment, resource recovery, renewable energy generation and biogeochemical cycles.
What aspect of your work are you most excited about at the moment?
My team is investing a lot of effort into understanding the electron-transfer mechanisms of microorganisms, because microbial redox reactions play such an important role in environmental degradation and biogeochemical processes.
We’ve made great progress after conducting a successful series of experiments, developing a hypothesis as to how bacteria carry out electron transfer through extracellular polymeric substances, which differs from previous published studies.
What do you find most challenging about your research?
A large part of my research has involved multidisciplinary work, crossing into electrochemistry, microbiomics, analytical chemistry and environmental microbiology. That can be a challenge.
But on the whole, I really enjoy collaborating with scientists from different fields around the world, many of whom have become my close friends.
What difficulties have you faced during the COVID-19 lockdown, and how are you overcoming them?
The outbreak of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on human health and the global economy. Meanwhile, my research has been experiencing a range of challenges – especially when it comes to the long-term operation of experiments. We are also learning how to communicate, teach, and collaborate on virtual platforms.
Balancing exponential population growth with environmental issues is key to the field of Environmental Chemistry. Global pandemics cannot be predicted, but science always steps forward into the unknown.
Why did you decide to become an Associate Editor for RSC Advances?
After acting as guest editor for several special issues, I became an Associate Editor for RSC Advances in 2016. The role is one of my most significant contributions to this field of research.
The most rewarding thing about being an Associate Editor is that the manuscripts submitted to me are subsequently recognised as high-profile papers by a broad global audience.
How does your role as an Associate Editor contribute to the journal and to the scientific community?
The area that I work in is environmental chemistry, a subject which covers broad topics including the movement and effects of contaminants in air, water and soil, and the risks for ecological and human health. In my work as an Associate Editor, I’m trying to increase the journal’s visibility to the international community working in all aspects of this field – from fundamental studies right up to engineering applications.
If you had one piece of advice for authors submitting to RSC Advances, what would it be?
Write a good story!
Did you always want to be a scientist, and did you ever consider a different career path?
I’ve had many role models in my life, most of whom were just ordinary people. When I was young, I wanted to be a scientist, a doctor, or an IT engineer. But I realised I’d chosen the right career path when I was a PhD student, able to freely explore the biochemical research that most interested me.
The most enjoyable thing for me has always been to explore the unknown. So, if I weren’t a researcher, I’d like to be an engineer, putting knowledge into practice.
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