Introducing one of our PhD researchers: Zunain Ayaz

His research is based on the challenges of global warming.

Zunain Ayaz joined the IMPRS in May 2021. He said the IMPRS/OVGU joint program is the best match for what he was looking for in his doctoral studies because the institute can provide him the opportunity to materialize his ideas and concepts. Moreover, for him, the positive support in the technical issues and course work from the academic and research staff were among the major factors that played a decisive role in choosing this program.

His scientific focus has its roots in the problems of global warming. He underlines that since the industrial revolution, humans have been unmerciful towards the environment. One of the biggest problems is the rise of temperature, which causes the melting of the glaciers. Zunain Ayaz indicates that cutting or stopping fuel consumption is not possible at the moment. Therefore, he says renewable energy sources need to be targeted and utilized to slow down the deformation process. For Zunain Ayaz this was one of the reasons why he applied for the research fieldEfficient Energy Conversion and Storage Based on Renewables”. His aim was to utilize his extensive hands-on experience in nanomaterials synthesis and characterization for carbon dioxide capture and sequestration techniques in the specific and electrochemical analysis of photocatalysts in photoelectrochemical and photocatalytic reactions for hydrogen generation in general.

Within the program Zunain Ayaz is working in the group of Prof. Dr. Franziska Scheffler, where they are designing and synthesizing the hybrid metal-organic frameworks (MOF), modifying them, and testing them for CO2 adsorption processes. The goal is to target the industries, the major CO2 emitters, design and synthesize the MOFs that can adsorb CO2 efficiently at atmospheric conditions and can withstand an ample amount of regeneration cycles.

Besides his research, Zunain Ayaz is also enjoying the benefits of Magdeburg. He lists that here it is possible to practice the German language intensely because few people in the city know English. That is why he has to communicate in German, which he finds helpful. Furthermore, he thinks the city transport is very good and he further mentions that there are also some historical festivals in Magdeburg, like the Kaiser Otto Fest and the Spectaculum Magdeburgense.

Unfortunately, Zunain Ayaz's arrival in Germany did not take place without complications. Magdeburg does not have an International Airport, that is why he had to use the airport in Berlin Brandenburg. Here, he had some issues because there was no direct connection to Magdeburg from the airport by train and he had to change the connections five times with all of his luggage at hand. In the end, the whole journey from Berlin to Magdeburg took him ten hours, which would normally be just a one and half hour journey by car. However, he also explained that this is not the usual case when you travel from Berlin to Magdeburg by train.

Despite the bumpy start he had in Germany, Zunain Ayaz highlights that he is very content with the IMPRS program. He says the magnanimous technical and moral support from the principal investigator, co-advisor, and mentor is very helpful. Further, he describes, the program unleashes a professional researcher out of the students by providing a professional and supportive working environment. Along with this, the IMPRS also emboldens the PhD researchers to improve their management and interpersonal skills by arranging a series of workshops, seminars, and summer schools.  The IMPRS encourages the PhD researchers to find an international collaboration for their projects and supports them to visit and practice their research there for three months. The IMPRS coordination office itself is very much active and always there to hear from the PhD researchers, guide them and provide them with the required help and support.

Ayaz also explains how he likes that the IMPRS helps PhD researchers to improve their soft skills by providing them with a number of workshops and courses. From his experience, the tutors and trainers invited by the IMPRS for such activities possess excellent capabilities in their specific fields. They are helpful to improve skills by the teaching of alpha and beta of respective subjects. Therefore, he is very much satisfied with all of the soft skill courses that he took so far.

He further outlines that one should keep in mind that the IMPRS is not only about research. Life at IMPRS is also full of fun as PhD researchers are encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities. The creative events that are held at or sponsored by the IMPRS, help to develop circles by bringing the scientists and researchers from different fields together in one place. This helps to find peers and colleagues that have the same research interests and provides the opportunity to build fruitful connections.

When Zunain Ayaz was asked whether he would recommend the program to other PhD researchers, he answered:

“If you have thrust to do something fruitful for humanity with your groundbreaking ideas and the skills, IMPRS is the best place to materialize your dreams. I have already recommended this program to a number of my friends and colleagues and would be happy to recommend it to anyone who wants to prove him- or herself.“

Thank you a lot for taking your time to give us some insights into your research at the IMPRS! We wish you every success with your further research!




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