Science is crucial for any nation to keep up with the ever growing challenges facing the world which is why I chose to become a science teacher in high school. I have always felt a strong passion for science and in order to pass on this passion to my students, I used to run a chemistry group which we called "kurjuk". This involved conducting chemical experiments designed to challenge and engage my students. The aim was not only to inspire students but to teach them to search for new things - the world of the unknown! However, I needed more of a challenge and it became crystal clear to me that going back to university was the right choice.
I feel science is interesting - as it is quoted in "bilimning dengizi kaynak hem chongkur" (meaning: Ocean of knowledge is hot and deep). I've found real pleasure in doing science at the University of Sydney and I am fortunate enough to be working with my supervisor Professor Brendan Kennedy and other academics such as Associate Professor Chris Ling, Dr Siggi Schmid, Dr Peter Blanchard (XANES expert), and others. As my research progresses, I have had some really exciting results from my studies on transition metal oxide perovskite materials. We have published some of our results in various scientific journals but still have more findings to write and share with others. I think this is due to my supervisor's expertise in this field, our accessibility to world class advanced research facility such as the Australian Synchrotron for SXRD and XANES, neutron diffraction and the project itself. Perovskite materials with basic general formula of ABO3 are known to be the largest class of minerals and multifunctional materials on Earth. Besides, the materials are susceptible to partial replacement with other element at A, B , and O sites. This provides the possibility to design new materials with required properties. Our research group is called the Solid State Chemistry group, a small group in the School but a productive one.
I love observing how smart people tackle tricky problems and conferences and seminars are a good place to see this in action. I have had the opportunity to present my work at conferences in New Zealand, Adelaide, ANSTO and even as far away as France. These conferences are extremely rewarding and have given me the chance to talk, and to learn from, eminent scientists from around the world.
Aside from research, I was able to tutor first and second year students for a few semesters. This, in addition to my scholarship, assisted me in supporting my family. As English was not my first or second language, tutoring helped build my confidence to teach in English and has rekindled my passion for teaching. It was extremely rewarding to hear one student say "I wish I had a high school teacher like you".
Apart from more than ten years teaching experience, I studied extraction, separation, and chemical analysis of natural medicinal plant – Hypericum (also called St John's wort) for my Master's degree. Later, and just before I commenced my current PhD candidature in the School of Chemistry, I had some research experience in the field of zeolite and phosphors materials in Seoul, Korea. This could partially get me closer to my current dream, which is to teach at a university, but definitely I have to do more to prepare myself for this dream.
Now I am racing against time to finish my PhD thesis. As soon as I have finished, I hope to find a postdoctoral position and swim in the ocean of knowledge and science. This may not be easy, but I believe "where there is a will, there is a way".